The gas industry – by a company called “Southern Tier CO2 to Clean Energy Solutions” – recently announced a proposal to drill and frack in New York using carbon dioxide (CO2), including test wells as soon as this spring. Almost a decade after New York historically led the nation and protected public health and the environment by banning high-volume hydraulic fracking, this dangerous proposal to get around our state’s fracking ban using CO2 poses many of the same threats to our water, health, and climate.
Today, more than 90 organizations released a letter to Governor Hochul, Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, Speaker Heastie, and DEC Commissioner Seggos calling for a ban on CO2 fracking. Signatories include groups from the Southern Tier and across the state, including Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter, Natural Resources Defense Council, Food & Water Watch, Frack Action, NYPIRG, Earthjustice, Catskill Mountainkeeper, Concerned Health Professionals of NY, Physicians for Social Responsibility-NY, Environmental Advocates NY, and many others.
The letter is available here: https://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/letter-to-nys-leaders-to-ban-drilling-and-fracking-with-co2/
As the letter details, the proposed plan to transport waste CO2 to New York from other states, drill and inject high-pressure CO2 to release sequestered methane, and build new gas-fired power plants is reckless and would perpetuate our reliance on fossil fuels. As countless scientific studies about drilling and fracking demonstrate, fractures are not controllable and could cause the CO2 as well as naturally occurring radioactivity in the shale to migrate, threatening to contaminate our drinking water.
High pressure CO2 is itself very dangerous, and ruptured pipelines can result in asphyxiation. This was tragically illustrated in Satartia, Mississippi when a CO2 pipeline exploded, leading to mass CO2 poisoning that left 45 people hospitalized. Additionally, high pressure CO2 injection underground poses significant risk of earthquakes.
The organizations noted that they are deeply concerned that the CO2 fracking proposal would violate New York’s nation-leading climate law, the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). Studies show that drilling and fracking operations and infrastructure are inherently leaky, releasing methane that is disastrous for the climate along with air pollutants that endanger public health. Drilling and fracking for fossil fuels, along with pipelines, gas plants, truck trips, and other infrastructure, is contradictory to the CLCPA.
Food & Water Watch Northeast Region Director Alex Beauchamp said:
“Southern Tier Solutions’ carbon capture fracking scam is as absurd as it is dangerous. This pie-in-the-sky proposal would endanger public health and the environment, while taking New York backwards on its critical climate goals. Governor Hochul must come out strong against this preposterous proposal and make clear that dirty energy has no place in New York.”
Julia Walsh, Director of Frack Action, said, “The gas industry’s new, extreme drilling and fracking scheme endangers our drinking water, health, and climate. An overwhelming movement of New Yorkers rejected gas drilling and fracking a decade ago and will do so again now. As a leader on the environment and climate, Governor Hochul must swiftly act to ban drilling and fracking with CO2.”
Sandra Steingraber, PhD, co-founder Concerned Healthy Professionals of New York, said, “Everything that’s wrong with fracking—earthquake risks, radioactive releases, air pollution, threats to groundwater and public health—doesn’t go away when CO2 is swapped for water. As health professionals, we are well aware that liquefied CO2 is corrosive, accident prone, and behaves as a terrible asphyxiant that can acidify lung tissue on contact. Governor Hochul must ensure that upstate New York will not be used as a laboratory for reckless experiments conducted by the fossil fuel industry.”
Adam Flint, Director of Clean Energy Programs, said, “My home is just fifteen minutes from Pennsylvania, where fracking has shown its true colors: contaminated wells, severe health impacts, boom and bust economics, and a countryside permanently degraded by an intensive industrial process. My job is to support New York’s communities in the transition to clean energy. CO2 fracking would be a giant step backwards, and is a dangerous distraction built on a misguided and unaccountable federal tax rule that would undermine the rapid expansion of New York’s climate-friendly economy. We call on Governor Hochul to ban CO2 fracking now.”
Roger Downs, Conservation Director for the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter said: “In 2020, the legislature and the governor came together to codify New York’s historic fracking ban and close loopholes that the oil and gas industry sought to exploit. Governor Huchul and the legislature must answer the call once again and protect all New Yorkers from this latest fracking threat that will most certainly drain limited DEC resources and divert us from our nation leading climate goals. Banning CO2 fracking and its harmful environmental impacts should be a primary objective of New York Lawmakers in 2024.”
Liz Moran, New York Policy Advocate for Earthjustice, said, “New York set a strong precedent when the state rightly banned high-volume hydraulic fracking, sending a clear message that New York’s water, air, and health, isn’t worth risking. Now, a new proposal that seeks to skirt New York’s fracking ban by using carbon dioxide, would once again put communities in harm’s way. The Governor and the Legislature must show leadership for New Yorkers again by not allowing CO2 fracking to move forward.”
Press conference recording is available here.