In spite of overwhelming evidence that fracking cannot be done safely, the New York State Senate has refused to act on legislation to protect New Yorkers from this dangerous, polluting practice. As the legislative session comes to a close, our elected officials need to know that their inaction will not go unnoticed.
That’s why concerned Buffalo residents joined community leaders, business owners and representatives from consumer, environmental and social justice groups at a rally last week in support of a statewide ban on the highly controversial practice of fracking. The rally targeted State Senator Mark Grisanti, chair of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee, who has yet to publicly support a ban on fracking in New York.
A broad-based array of community members gathered at Sen. Grisanti’s office to present the senator with 1,766 petition signatures from local residents and 102 letters from local organizations and businesses. Senator Grisanti was specifically urged to co-sponsor SB4220 and bring it up for a vote, as the bill has been languishing in his committee since last year. The bill would stop the NY Department of Environmental Conservation from issuing permits to allow drilling in the state.
Many of those who signed the petition, as well as several businesses that have asked Senator Grisanti to ban fracking, are located in the Southtowns of Buffalo, such as Hamburg and Orchard Park, which are part of his newly drawn district for this year’s re-election. Senator Grisanti is known for saying “I don’t want to be the senator who poisons New York State,” but he has yet to listen to the demands of his constituents.
The concern stems not only from environmental and consumer groups, but also from the entire community. Residents realize how much is on the line. Some of the small businesses that have signed on to ask Senator Grisanti to support a ban include Heart Animal Rescue & Adoption Team, Inc., Vito The Barber, Crazy 4 Bookz, Lexington Co-op, Gallery 164, Buffalo Tax Service, Hamburg Radiator, Jimmies Pizza Co., Filigree’s Gallery & Boutique, Thorpe’s Organic Family Farm, Squeaky Wheel, Chiacchia & Fleming, The Pilates Loft, and Great Harvest Bread Co.
Community, environmental, and social justice groups represented among the 102 ban-fracking letters presented to Grisanti included the Buffalo Board of Block Clubs, Forest District Civic Association, St. Joseph University Social Justice Committee, Canisius College Historical Society, Massachusetts Ave. Project, Rediscover Rivserside, PUSH Buffalo, Sierra Club Niagara Group, Occupy Buffalo, Coalition for Economic Justice, OUTSpoken for Equality, Citizen Action of WNY, WNY Peace Center, Working Families Party of WNY, and Green Party of WNY.
Many religious organizations urged Sen. Grisanti to support a fracking ban as well. Some of them include Lafayette Ave. Presbyterian Church, The Interfaith Peace Network, People of Peace at Pilgrim-St. Lukes U.C.C., Order of the Felician Sisters, Mary Queen of Angels Regional Catholic School, Riverside-Salem Congragation, and the Care for Creation Committee of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo.
We’ve seen accidents, spills, contamination, and economic hardships caused by fracking play out far too often in neighboring states. Western New Yorkers deserve to have these ominous warnings acknowledged.