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
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
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.