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Ban fracking in favor of safer, renewable energy

I am disturbed at the prospects of high- volume horizontal fracking coming to New York not only because of the polluted water and air it brings to communities, but also the risk fracking creates for local gas industry workers.

On May 19 the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health confirmed that at least four oil and gas workers have died since 2010 from chemical exposures during flowback operations, which involves transferring and storing dangerous chemical wastewater that returns to the surface after fracking. NIOSH even admits that they lack the information necessary from the oil and gas industry to truly address the risk from exposure to flowback from fracking and that they currently lack methods to limit this danger.

Further, April 30 newspaper reports stated that two people died and nine were injured from an oil well explosion in western Texas, and regular instances like these point to a disturbing trend. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that from 2008 to 2012 oil worker deaths rose 3.2 percent, totaling 545 lost lives.

The oil and gas industry has a death rate that’s eight times higher than any other industry. Many more workers have suffered injuries on the job, including amputations, being crushed and so on. Most of the data gathered on the deaths show that they were largely preventable, but the oil and gas industry does not put the health and safety of its workers first.

What’s worse is that due to the lack of transparency in the Department of Health’s review of fracking, we do not know if the state is even considering health hazards posed to workers by allowing fracking. Gov. Cuomo would be wise to ban fracking and create the jobs New York needs by investing in safer, cleaner renewable energy.

Roger A. Cook Grand Island