On Wednesday, April 25, The Environmental Task Force (ETF) and members of the New Paltz community boarded a bus to Pennsylvania to tour sites of the controversial drilling process known as “fracking.”
The Task Force, which is a coalition of campus and community groups promoting environmental education, planned the trip for interested members of the New Paltz community see “first hand” the drilling process and environmental concerns fracking causes.
“Fracking is considered the environmental crisis of our time,” ETF member Rosalyn Cherry said. “Those attending will be able to see for themselves the devastation both to the health and well being of the community and to the environment.”
The bus took members to Dimock, Penn., a town the task force said has experienced problems with local drinking water supplies. The bus took the group past drilling derricks, compressor stations and homes that have had their water supply contaminated by the fracking process, the Task Force said.
The Task Force said by seeing these sites, local residents can be inspired to prevent New York state from allowing fracking of the Marcellus Shale, a rock formation that extends from Pennsylvania to the Hudson Valley.
Eric Wood, the project manager of New Paltz’s NYPIRG chapter who co-sponsored the trip, said he hopes those who attended the trip will be inspired to take action upon their return.
“When an individual sees this first hand, it will make them more aggressive in the fight to keep this drilling process, under proposed regulations, out of New York state, so we do not see the same type of catastrophe that the people of Dimock are currently suffering from,” Wood said.
Wood said the bus was “just about filled up,” consisting of students, community activists and media members who will travel approximately 145 miles to the Pennsylvania town that boasts a 1,398 resident population.
In addition to the bus trip, those involved in the planning also collected bottled water donations as part of a campaign to aid those in Pennsylvania who had their drinking water affected by fracking, the Task Force said.
Cherry said she hoped the trip would raise awareness in New Paltz because she believes most community members are only aware of the practice through ads sponsored by drilling companies.
“What many people know about fracking is what they have seen and heard on the gas and oil industry ads in print and on television,” Cherry said. “Hopefully participants will share the truth they experience on the trip.”
Cherry said the key of the trip would be to start a discussion in the New Paltz community upon their return.
“We must keep the topic alive,” Cherry said. “With potential letters to the editor participants can share from their own experiences in a deeper and more passionate way.”