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Farmers oppose fracking to release natural gas

Sunday, January 20, 2013
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Forest Byrd/For The Sunday Gazette
Forest Byrd/For The Sunday Gazette

If Gov. Andrew Cuomo isn’t busy this weekend, he might drop by the NOFA-NY Winter Conference in Saratoga Springs. Or just come for lunch at the annual membership meeting Saturday, Jan. 26, at noon in the Saratoga Hilton and City Center. They have guaranteed that the food is local, organic, healthful and delicious.

NOFA-NY has a resolution or two he might want to read, considering that his State of the State address didn’t mention a couple of the topics these folks are very concerned about.

NOFA-NY is the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York, founded in 1983 as a non-profit organization of consumers, gardeners and farmers who want a sustainable regional food system that is ecologically sound and economically viable. That means we won’t destroy the soil, water and air and will grow the meats and plants we need to be healthy and to sell to each other to make a living.

NOFA-NY has about 1,500 members, and the whole Northeast Association about 5,000, farms and individuals. Their subsidiary, NOFA-NY Certified Organic, LLC, is one of the oldest certifying bodies in the United States.

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For a related opinion, click here.

Promoting stewardship

NOFA-NY promotes land stewardship, production of organic food and local marketing to make high-quality food available to everybody. Sounds like the agrarian society our sainted forefathers (and mothers) wanted for this land when they came here in the first place, before we forgot the difference between AgriCulture and AgriBusiness.

When our Winter 2012 NOFA-NY Magazine arrived, describing this year’s resolution about liquid natural gas exportation, I was unaware of NOFA-NY’s previous very strong statements about the process of horizontal high-volume slick water hydrofracking. A phone call to NOFA-NY offices in Rochester found Elizabeth Henderson, who explained the cumulative resolutions since 2009.

Henderson has been a NOFA-NY board member since 1989 and co-chairs the Resolutions Committee for New York state and the Interstate Council — the seven state members are New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Their 2009 resolution was a response to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation’s draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) concerning hydraulic fracking of horizontal gas wells.

NOFA-NY supported legislation that would overturn exemptions to the federal Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act regulations (that exempted oil and gas drilling in the 2005 energy bill written by the industry and then-Vice President Dick Cheney).

And if that weren’t possible, they wanted protections added to New York state law.

They wanted state laws that would require all oil and gas drilling companies to report publicly all chemicals used in drilling, how and where waste materials were disposed of, and a prohibition of the use of water from our aquifers for the purpose of gas drilling and fracking.

Going further

NOFA-NY’s 2012 resolutions went much further, changing the language from “support” to “demand” and rejecting this drilling technology outright as “an acceptable human activity.” They said “it is ultimately necessary to stop the practice world-wide,” and called for all local/state/federal governments to end it and ban it.

They greatly expanded their criticisms of the draft SGEIS, asked for laws to protect citizens from having to pay for the damage that drilling causes, and for the state of New York, the United States and the world to reduce drastically the use of petrochemical products as synthetic fertilizers and transition to organic methods.

For the complete lists of these whereases and resolutions, click here. They are science-based, fascinating and comprehensive reading. NOFA-NY gets it.

Next step

The 2012 resolution regarding liquid natural gas goes the next step, opposing not only export but the development of liquid natural gas export facilities. That could include pipelines, refineries, liquefiers, tanks and ships.

This resolution would keep our state from becoming a Third World colony of the petroleum companies that are selling these products for huge profits outside the United States, doing nothing to ensure our energy independence, as well as harming all farmers, both organic and conventional, and endangering locally produced food by putting our soil and water at risk and adding greenhouse gases to the air.

How would you vote on that, Gov. Cuomo?

Karen Cookson lives in Sharon Springs and is a regular contributor to the Sunday Opinion section.

 
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