Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224
Dear Governor Cuomo,
We write from a place of great concern about your statement on the Capitol Pressroom on November 6, 2014, that you are uncertain if your administration's fracking health review will include climate impacts. Science is clear that natural gas drilling, fracking, and associated infrastructure pose a very significant negative impact to the climate. This has been verified by some of the world’s leading climate scientists as part of the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, as well as numerous peer-reviewed studies. Climate change is also inherently a public health issue and there should be no question that fracking’s impacts on climate should be included and given considerable attention in both the Department of Health’s review of fracking as well as the Department of Environmental Conservation’s Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement on High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing.
Climate change is an issue of great importance to New Yorkers. Both downstate and upstate have experienced grave hardship and loss as a result of extreme weather events linked to climate change. Hurricanes Sandy and Irene, and Tropical Storm Lee cost New Yorkers many lives and tens of billions of dollars in damages and lost business opportunities. These economic losses need to be considered when analyzing the long-term impacts that continued fossil fuel usage has on our economy. Furthermore, renewable energy offers great economic possibilities while addressing climate change. This September, more than 400,000 people marched in the streets of New York City to call for bold action on climate change and to show their commitment to renewable energy. Tens of thousands carried anti-fracking signs in the march because fracking terribly exacerbates climate change, in addition to causing direct harms to our water, environment and public health.
The science is clear that natural gas and fracking do not constitute a bridge fuel or a transition fuel. From clearing of well pads, drilling, fracking, transportation, storage, and combustion, the life-cycle impacts of unconventional natural gas are disastrous for the climate. Given considerable methane leaks, drilling and fracking are particularly dangerous for the climate in the critical short term; methane is 86 times more potent than carbon dioxide over 20 years and 34 times more so over 100 years, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. We urge you to ensure the thorough review and incorporation of findings from the Physicians, Scientists & Engineers for Healthy Energy database of many peer-reviewed studies addressing the climate impacts of natural gas and fracking , as well as the Compendium of relevant key findings and studies by Concerned Health Professionals of New York .
At the beginning of this November, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a new report on the threats of climate change , underscoring how climate change is inherently a public health issue, with dire consequences. The report is clear that addressing the worst impacts of climate change will require leaving the vast majority of fossil fuels in the ground. As United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said, “Science has spoken. There is no ambiguity in their message. Leaders must act. Time is not on our side.”
The climate change impacts of fracking must be considered, and scientific evidence confirms that the impacts are significant. Allowing fracking would undermine the state’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and your own leadership on renewable energy initiatives. Building new fossil fuel infrastructure and green-lighting new drilling and fracking would be setting New York on a dangerous course backward.
New York State must answer the challenge of climate change and take a leadership role nationally and internationally in building a renewable energy economy. Listen to the science and protect the health of all New Yorkers: say no to fracking, and instead forge a path forward built on renewable energy.