Justin Wagner criticized state Sen. Greg Ball (R, C — Patterson) and his stance hydrofracking Wednesday during a press conference in Peekskill Wednesday.
Wagner, a Democrat from the Town of Cortlandt, is running to unseat Ball in District 40. Both candidates are running write-in campaigns seeking the Green Party ballot line during .
“My opponent, Greg Ball has done his best to muddy the waters, pardon the pun, on my position on hydrofracking,” Wagner said at Riverfront Green Park in Peekskill. “And so let me be clear today, on my position. I favor a full ban on hydrofracking in New York State. Now Senator Ball has a different position. His position is a nine month moratorium that would expire in June of 2013. I think that’s too weak, I think it doesn’t go far enough.”
Hydrofracking, short of for hydraulic fracturing, involves injecting a mixture of water, sand and chemicals into oil formations such as the Marcellus Shale, which runs from upstate New York to West Virginia. The pressure from the blast opens up horizontal wells from which the oil can be extracted.
Opponents of hydrofracking say the potent chemical cocktail can contaminate drinking water while methane gas released from the wells endangers air quality. Industry officials say the practice creates jobs and funnels revenue to the state in the form of drilling permits while decreasing energy costs to local homes.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation is currently in the process of making a determination on how the impact the process would have on health and safety.
Wagner was joined by state Sen. Tony Avella, D-Queens,who introduced a bill to ban hydrofracking last year. Wagner criticized Ball and other senate Republicans for blocking the bill and not allowing it to come to vote.
“I believe that if it did come to a vote, it would pass,” Avella said. “As a senator, I will co-sponsor Sen. Avella’s bill to fully ban hydrofracturing in New York.
Joe Bachmeier, Ball’s Campaign Press Secretary, issued the following statement in response to the Wagner’s press conference:
“By accepting over $10,000 from firms defending polluters like Chesepeake, BP and Seacor Holdings Wagner has proven his allegiance to the frackers. Using Wacky Wagner’s trojan horse candidacy, big oil and gas is attempting to lay out the welcome mat in New York for fracking. Unlike Wacky Wagner, Greg Ball has not and will not accept money from fracking companies or those who defend them. From personally touring Pennsylvania's gaslands to introducing landmark, bipartisan legislation to hold big oil, big gas and fracking companies accountable, no Senator has done more to protect New York from the dangers of fracking than Greg Ball. Wacky Wagner's invitation of Senator Avella, who has personally attacked our Governor, is a fatal rookie mistake. Attacking Governor Cuomo and aligning with the one Senator who has so polarized himself from this good Governor is not the way to move forward on this complicated issue. We must partner with Governor Cuomo, appealing to his fairness, to institute a proper moratorium until the funding, manpower and regulations are in place to safely oversee this industry; an industry that has proven it is outright incapable of regulating itself.”
Wagner also issued these campaign promises:
- Close the hazardous waste loophole: wastewater from the fracking process is exempted from rules governing the treatment of hazardous waste, a huge loophole in New York’s existing laws. Sen. Avella’s bill to fix this, S. 4616, passed the Assembly and died in the Senate, even though Sen. Ball is a cosponsor and claims to support it. Conveniently, Senate Republican leaders – the same ones who have given Ball hundreds of thousands in campaign money – used tricks in Senate procedure to prevent this bill from getting a vote, so Ball has not had to vote on the bill and prove where he stands.
- Require full disclosure of chemicals in fracking fluid: fracking involves pumping a mix of chemicals, water, and sand into the ground, to fracture underground rock containing trapped natural gas, but the drilling companies believe they have the right to keep the composition of these chemicals a secret – even though that secret can endanger public health.
- Conduct a full assessment of hydrofracking’s health impacts: hydrofracking could introduce multiple carcinogens into our environment and potentially cause a new epidemic of cancer and other illnesses, but Sen. Ball’s Senate Republican backers have repeatedly fought off attempts to require a health impact study.