OPINION: Fracking equals climate change
On Sept. 21, thousands will converge on New York City for the People’s Climate March. The event coincides with an important United Nations climate change summit featuring leaders from across the world. Among those taking to the streets will be many New York State residents calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to be a leader on global warming by banning fracking.
Fracking is a dangerous method of extracting natural gas that threatens our water, health and environment. Fracking also spells disaster for our climate. That’s because the production, transportation and combustion of fracked gas releases and generates massive amounts of pollution that causes global warming.
Natural gas is primarily methane. Methane is an extraordinarily potent greenhouse gas, meaning it’s very efficient at trapping heat in our planet’s atmosphere, much more so than carbon dioxide. There is growing evidence that large quantities of methane leak from fracking operations. Burning natural gas also releases large amounts of carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas. This is why Cornell University professor Anthony Ingraffea has referred to natural gas as a “gangplank to a warm future,” not the “bridge fuel” the industry portrays it as being.
Brooklyn neighborhoods are still coping with the destruction caused by Superstorm Sandy. The storm ruined lives, wrecked communities, and caused harm that our city is still struggling to repair. Unfortunately, increased fracking would mean more superstorms, devastating sea level rise, catastrophic droughts and floods and widespread damage to agriculture.
Like many communities, Brooklyn is also contending with another dangerous aspect of fracking. Fracking requires new gas pipelines, like the Rockaway Pipeline, and other infrastructure that, once built, will lock in decades of fossil fuel reliance and climate pollution. At the same time, this massive build-out of gas infrastructure will crowd out and stifle investment and progress for renewable energy.
New York State is at a crossroads between deepening our reliance on dirty old fossil fuels, and making the transition to clean, safe renewable energy. On Sept. 21, thousands of New Yorkers will be urging Governor Cuomo to be a leader by making the right choice for our city and state. “Fracking equals Climate Change” and “Ban Fracking Now” will be our calls.
Eric Weltman is a Brooklyn-based senior organizer for Food & Water Watch, a nonprofit advocacy organization.