Calling on state legislators to support a ban on hydraulic fracturing, or “hydrofracking,” in New York state, a coalition of environmentalists were joined by both celebrities and concerned lawmakers during a rally in the Capitol Jan. 23.More than 600 New Yorkers from all regions of the state protested the process, which involves pumping a mixture of water, sand and chemicals into the ground to break up rock and release natural gas deposits.

While proponents tout hydofracking’s potential to create jobs and help the economy, opponents are trying to raise awareness of its potential to harm the environment.

Josh Fox, director of the Academy Award-nominated documentary Gasland, which exposed water contamination by natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania and in western states, spoke at the event.

“The environmental costs of hydrofracking greatly outweigh its economic benefits,” said Fox, who supports a ban on the process. “It is very important for New York state to lead the nation in opposition to fracking.”

Last summer, Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed lifting the state’s moratorium on hydrofracking. In his recent State of the State Address, however, the governor neglected to mention the process or the current review of proposed regulations by the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Fox believes Cuomo will “do the right thing” on this issue.

“The governor is an intelligent man and I have confidence in him,” said Fox. “He must know that for Ed Rendell, the former Pennsylvania governor, and Tom Corbett, the current governor, hydrofracking will be their landmarks.”

Debra Winger, a three-time Academy Award-nominated actress, reflected on how being a child of the 1960s inspired her to join the anti-fracking movement.

“I would always see these commercials for clean burning gas and I thought the blue flame the gas would create was so beautiful,” said Winger, who starred in films such as An Officer and a Gentleman and Terms of Endearment. “Now, however, I see all of the dangers behind that blue flame.”

Sen. Greg Ball, R-Patterson, who recently proposed legislation to impose a one-year moratorium on hydrofracking, called on members of both the Occupy movement and the Tea Party to hold the natural gas industry accountable. He also offered optimistic praise to the governor.

“I believe in the genuine goodness of our governor,” said Ball. “If he went to Pennsylvania and saw firsthand all of the negative impacts of hydrofracking, I believe he’d be on board with us.” (ARTICLE)

About Greg Ball

Assemblyman Greg Ball (R, C, I – Patterson) is the Senator for New York State's 40th district. A former Vice President of Exceed International Development Corporation, Ball holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from the United States Air Force Academy, is currently completing his Masters Thesis of Liberal Studies in International Affairs at Georgetown University, and received an honorable discharge in 2005 at the rank of Captain after service as an active duty officer in the United States Air Force. View all posts by Greg Ball →
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