by Kerry Barger
In contrast to the cool, crisp air and the beautiful sunshine outside Mount Kisco Village Hall Monday, State Sen. Greg Ball delivered a heated speech on hydraulic fracturing, calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to extend the state’s public hearing on the controversial method of extracting natural gas from the earth.
Also known as fracking, Ball condemned the natural gas industry for the lack of precautionary measures it takes in safeguarding from potential drilling errors, as well as the government for its inefficiency in enforcing regulations to protect private homeowners and others that utilize the land.
“[The fracking industry] is on the precipice of receiving red carpet treatment here in New York State,” Ball said. “We saw just miles from our border, not far from away here, what has happened with an industry that has been greatly unregulated–many of the lessons that should’ve been learned in Pennsylvania could save millions of dollars for private property owners and make sure that undue influence doesn’t result in sportsmen, farmers and property owners being abused by an extremely powerful industry.”
Coming off a recent trip to Bradford County, Pa. with documentary filmmaker and “GASLAND” director Josh Fox, Ball urged Cuomo to take a trip to the state to witness firsthand the devastating affects fracking has had on the surrounding community. The senator also recommended expanding the state’s public comment period, which is set to expire on Dec. 12, another 180 days.
Vowing to make fracking a nonpartisan issue, Ball said both sides of the political spectrum are to blame for the growing influence companies hold over government, which Ball said, doesn’t have to do with party lines, but with money and politics.
“Those that control this industry have undue influence at the highest of levels, whether it be a Republican president or a Democratic governor, and they’re going to do anything they can do to push hurdles out of the way,” Ball said. “We’ve got to stop this.”
In addition to his demands, Ball is also lobbying for the passage of his Property Owner’s Bill of Rights legislation, which contains specific mandates to protect landowners. Under Ball’s law, such provisions include mandatory water and soil testing, reimbursements to owners for negligence and power to municipalities to enact their own forms of local laws regarding oil, gas and solution mining.
Craig L. Stevens, a sixth generation landowner from Silver Lake, Pa. and a member of Marcellus Patriots for Land Rights, was among the roughly 30 people who traveled from western New York and Pennsylvania to voice their opposition toward fracking within the state. Stevens referred to his region as “The Alamo,” a breaking point between the people and the natural gas industry set in a national spotlight.
“This industry has a lot of lawyers, and they’re full of liars,” Stevens said. “My five generations before me did pass my land with clean water, fertile land and clean air and I’m not going to be the one on my watch that poisons it so my children, the seventh generation, can’t even come to visit it.”
In an effort to continue the discussion, Ball will be hosting a “GASLAND” screening at the Peekskill Neighborhood Center with Fox and Frack Action co-founder Claire Sandberg this Saturday, Oct. 22 at 1:30 p.m.
“Sen. Greg Ball is one of the only politicians on either side of the aisle who has the heart to actually go and see firsthand the horrific and abusive conditions the gas fracking industry is forcing on citizens and one of the only public servants with the convictions and the guts to stand up to the gas industry,” Fox said in an official statement. “Touring the gas land of Pennsylvania should be required of every New York representative.” (ARTICLE)