NEW YORK—Environmental activists delivered 15,000 petitions to the offices of New York Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand Wednesday demanding that they vote against legislation that would legalize the export of natural gas overseas.
Environmentalists believe that if the export of natural gas is legalized, demand for the product would swell and fracking would increase.
Fracking is short for hydraulic fracturing, an underground gas mining technique, which uses chemicals and explosives. Environmentalists believe that fracking contaminates soil and water. Many also said it is a misguided investment in an age of renewable energy sources.
The legislation to legalize the export of natural gas was introduced in the House and Senate in response to the crisis in Ukraine. The country relies on gas from Russia at a time when tensions between the two nations are high.
But environmentalists believe the intent of the legislation is less about aid and more about profits for gas companies. They said that exported natural gas can be sold at a higher price and can ultimately drive up prices in the United States.
“Supposedly this legislation is supposed to help Europe wean itself off Russian gas. But don’t you believe it. This legislation is about profit, profit over the planet,” said Patrick Almonrode, a member of the environmental advocacy organization 350NYC.
Gas companies would need to liquefy the natural gas to export it, a process performed at specialized plants. “The infrastructure that the industry would build if this legislation were to pass would cost billions of dollars and building it would lock us into using and fracking for natural gas for decades to come,” said Almonrode.
New York has had a moratorium on fracking since 2008. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has delayed his decision on the matter, saying that he wants to make his decision based on science.
Schumer’s office could not be reached for comment.