State Senate Democrats are trying to prevent hydrofracking in New York State while the Cuomo administration is considering whether to approve the controversial natural gas extraction procedure on a limited basis in parts of the state. On Wednesday, Senate Democrats held a forum in lower Manhattan. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
The testimony was entirely from those who oppose hydrofracking, including filmmaker Joshua Fox. Fox made the documentary "Gasland." His newest video is called "The Sky Is Pink" and it deals specifically with New York State.
"New Marcellus wells that are drilled instantly, there is a 6 percent rate of failure for the cement," Fox said. "That's the cement that protects the ground water. So they know that. The gas industry knows that."
It was recently leaked to the press that the Cuomo administration was considering limited hydrofracking in New york's southern tier, which borders Pennsylvania. That's where the Marcellus shale, an underground rock formation, is located.
"Comparing before and after drilling in Pennsylvania in the Marcellus shale, I find that low birth weight increases," said Cornell PHD student Elaine Hill. "The overall prevalence of low birth weight increases by 25 percent."
Senate Democrats have accused the Cuomo administration of sharing information about hydrofracking with the industry before making it public.
"One of the oil and gas companies that wants to drill here, that's under investigation in another state for possible illegal practices, got advanced notice of the proposed regulations here," said State Sen. Tony Avella. "That is highly unethical if not criminal."
At a public event upstate in Utica Wednesday, Governor Cuomo was asked for a response.
"They should be talking to the industry," he said. "They should be talking to supporters. They should be talking to opponents. They should be talking to people in Pennsylvania. They should be talking to everyone. This decision should not be made in secret."
A decision on hydrofracking is expected to be made by the Cuomo administration later this summer. In the meantime, opponents are using this opportunity to build as broad a coalition as possible. An anti-fracking march in Washington is being planned for later this month.