Advocacy Priorities‎ > ‎Environment‎ > ‎

Hydraulic Fracturing

Resolution Calling for a Ban on Hydraulic Fracturing ("fracking")

(See also the Minute on Fracking from the New York Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, one of our member denominations.)

Adopted by the Council
September, 2012

The New York State Council of Churches:

  • Calls for a ban on hydraulic fracturing in New York State
  • Encourages the development of sustainable economies, renewable energy, and conservation measures, so that New York State may serve as an example of good stewardship for the earth and an advocate for the well-being of its inhabitants
We are entrusted by God to be good stewards of the planet, which requires that resources of land, air, and water be managed responsibly and sustainably, without destroying or despoiling God’s creation.  Consistent with the teachings of Christ, we have a moral obligation to prevent harm to our fellow human beings, including future generations who will inherit the earth. 

Is it not enough for you to drink of clear water, that you must foul the rest?  And must my sheep drink what you have fouled?  Ezekiel 34:19

In our current economic recession, we understand that signing a gas lease for one's land is tempting. The Council acknowledges with regret that people across our state are faced with such difficult choices. However, there are widespread and serious concerns about the safety of hydraulic fracturing ("fracking"). Each drill injects 50,000 to eight million gallons of water mixed with sand and chemical additives into a geologic formation below the surface of the earth. The drilling industry has resisted revealing exactly what chemicals are used in the fluid. The high pressure creates fracturing in the rock which then releases the natural gas into the well. According to Environmental Advocates of New York (eany.org), more than 1,400 cases of water contamination related to drilling have occurred across the country. Recently the University of Buffalo has discovered that the process may cause uranium that is naturally trapped within Marcellus shale to be released.
 
New information continues to emerge regarding the significant dangers of fracking, causing independent experts to conclude that the technology poses a serious risk of immediate, long-term, or even permanent harm to land, air, and water resources; said harm occurring through the migration of methane and toxic chemicals into groundwater supplies, airborn gas and chemical emissions, induced seismic activity, disposal of fracking fluids, and the widespread fragmentation of ecosystems and loss of wildlife caused by large-scale proliferation of drilling sites and related infrastructure.

Incidents of contamination and sickness in Pennsylvania and other areas where fracking has occurred has prompted leading medical professionals to question industry claims that natural gas can be extracted safely without endangering human health.  Moreover, an industrialized landscape created by the large-scale proliferation of fracking threatens to supplant existing and emerging economies which offer hope for a more sustainable future, protective of the earth and people, including but not limited to locally-owned family farms, wineries, organic agriculture, outdoor recreation, ecotourism, and businesses rooted in the rich history and rural heritage of upstate New York.

Due to the political, legal, and regulatory framework in which the fossil fuel industry presently operates, communities that have been subjected to intense and widespread fossil fuel extraction, including fracking, disproportionately suffer the consequences of extraction through environmental injustice and social-economic exploitation, without equitably sharing in the financial benefits enjoyed by industry.

Natural gas has existed within shale formations since early geologic time and will continue to reside there should alternative technologies be developed for its safe extraction in the future.  It is imprudent and morally objectionable to proceed with current methods of fracking in light of the inherent and significant risks posed to the environment, human health, and society.

From the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s 1993 statement “Caring For Creation:  Vision, Hope and Justice”:

Today living creatures, and the air, soil, and water that support them, face unprecedented threats.  Many threats are global; most stem directly from human activity.  Our current practices may so alter the living world that it will be unable to sustain life in the manner we know.

The idea of the earth as a boundless warehouse has proven both false and dangerous.  Damage to the environment eventually will affect most people through increased conflict over scarce resources, decline in food security, and greater vulnerability to disease.

In our ministry, we learn about the extent of the environmental crisis, its complexities, and the suffering it entails.  Meeting the needs of today's generations for food, clothing, and shelter requires a sound environment.  Action to counter degradation, especially within this decade, is essential to the future of our children and our children's children.  Time is very short.