AUGUSTA, ME -- After a difficult re-election campaign facing Zephyr Teachout in the primaries and the Green Party of New York's Howie Hawkins, both of whom made a ban on fracking central to their campaigns, New York's governor Andrew Cuomo has signed a bill banning fracking in New York. Cuomo's challengers made a ban on fracking a clear policy plank, while the Democratic Party incumbent waffled on the issue, taking money from fracking industry donors. This is a significant victory for environmental activists, that policy was made by listening to the scientists instead of the lobbyists.
While there had been a moratorium in place while studying the impact of hydraulic fracturing, New York now has a state-wide ban on the practice. Input was received from scientists, nutritionists and doctors before this thoughtful decision was reached. The Maine Green Independent Party fully supports New York's ban. Although Maine has no shale deposits, and fracking is unlikely to ever occur here, this process still has a very direct impact on Maine citizens.
Pipelines are being proposed to transport fracked gas and oil to areas where it can be exported with the profits going to gas and oil companies. The cost of the infrastructure for these pipelines may be borne by citizens of the states where the pipelines are installed. The Maine Green Independent Party stands with those opposed to reversing the oil pipelines from Canada to South Portland for the purpose of exporting Canadian shale oil, also known as "tar sands."
The Green Alliance to Stop the Pipelines (GASP) is an alliance of state Green parties standing in solidarity with the Marcellus shale communities who will suffer the consequences of the unwise decision to continue depending on fossil fuels. The Maine Green Independent Party is proud to stand with the Green Parties of those allied states to oppose the trasport of these dangerous petrochemicals.
Air pollution levels in Maine can rise from fracking in other states down-wind from Maine. Ed Miller, the Lung Association's Vice President for Public Policy in Maine, has called Maine the "tail pipe of the United States" and has expressed concern over the potential air pollution effects of increased oil and natural gas drilling. Water, soil and food supply sources are also affected by the polluting impact of injecting water and dangerous chemicals into the ground to release the gas and oil deposits.
Of course, there is also the issue of keeping the carbon in the ground, rather than putting it in our atmosphere where it has damaging effects on our global climate. Satellite imaging has allowed scientists to estimate that around 1 trillion cubic feet of methane (a far more dangerous greenhouse gas than CO2) is leaked per year at fracking wells across the United States.
In a press statement released today, Maine Green Independent Party Chair, Gil Harris had this to say,
"While the Maine Green Independent Party opposes hydraulic fracturing, we believe that the solution to reducing our dependence on fossil fuels is to invest in renewable energy. Unlike many other states, Maine does not offer incentive programs for citizens or municipalities to install solar panels to take advantage of energy from the Sun. We call for politicians to support tax incentives for residents to install solar and wind devices to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. We're calling for Maine to offer financial help to cities and towns that want to install solar or wind infrastructure to help control local property taxes while helping to protect the environment. The Maine Greens ask all Maine citizens to contact your state senators and representatives to demand that they support renewable energy production, and then work to get Green Party candidates elected so that we can be sure that our policies are put into law."