New York City

OPINION: New Yorkers need food, not fracking

June 5, 2013 By Hilary Papineau From Brooklyn Food Coalition
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New Yorkers enjoy the largest supply of unfiltered drinking water in the country. Our water travels from aquifers in the Catskills and Hudson River Valley to our homes and businesses in the city.  This water also reaches upstate farms, feeding New Yorkers who enjoy fresh local food through greenmarkets, community supported agriculture, co-ops, and more.  Much of this farmland is also home to the Marcellus shale, a region rich in gas reserves, and ground zero in New York’s fight against fracking.

“Fracking” is an extreme method of extracting gas from shale rock deep underground through horizontal drilling that involves the injection of water, sand and chemicals at a high pressure to releases gas.  Fracking is a toxic procedure that many advocates, scientists, food professionals and policy makers are working to ban in New York State.  Their work is critical to protecting our food and water. 

July 2012 Brooklyn Daily Eagle article about the film Gasland highlighted the danger fracking has on our water supply.  The New York City Department of Environmental Protection, the agency responsible for managing the city’s water supply, validates this concern, taking a strong stand against fracking. DEP takes the position that hydraulic fracturing “poses an unacceptable threat to the unfiltered water supply of nine million New Yorkers and cannot safely be permitted within the New York City watershed.” Fracking also poses a significant threat to our local food economy. 

New York State has the second largest number of farmer’s markets, apple growers and wine producers, and is the third largest producer of milk and organic food in the country.  These industries create jobs and economic growth.  Fracking threatens to undermine the safety of our food and security of our economy.  Food advocates are raising awareness around the impact of our food economy.  Here in Brooklyn, the Park Slope Food Coop, a retail food cooperative of over 15,800 members, purchases millions of dollars of New York State food products that could be jeopardized by fracking.

Experiences from other states demonstrate these risks are real; in Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Dakota, West Virginia and Texas, fracking has led to sickness and death of crops, livestock and farmers, often as a result of leakage and contamination in farm pastures and ponds adjacent to drilling sites.  Oversight is also weak, with the number of leaks across the nation’s 680,000 drilling sites unknown, and fracking exempt from key federal laws that protect our food and water. Meanwhile, claims that the drilling will boost New York’s economy by creating jobs are questionable and appear overstated. 

The fracking path contaminates our food, poisons our water, pollutes our air, and further, leads to explosions, public health and climate catastrophe.  New Yorkers need healthy foods, not fracking.

Advocacy against fracking is an economic imperative, one that our lives literally depend on! Join the Brooklyn Food Coalition and its partners build a sustainable, just and viable food system.  Visit to learn more about the growing statewide movement to protect New York’s food and water by banning fracking.  If you care about healthy food, the water we drink, and the air we breathe, please join us and get on the bus to Albany on Monday, June 17 for a Ban Fracking Rally and March and help us make this the biggest anti-fracking rally ever in New York state.

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