Hassig will give speech on fracking

At noon Friday, Donald L. Hassig, a Green Party candidate for New York’s 21st Congressional District, plans to walk into the outdoor plaza south of Barrington Student Union at SUNY Potsdam and give a speech on fracking.

Hassig, of Colton in St. Lawrence County, ran as the Green Party candidate in the race for the 23rd District (now the 21st) seat in 2012. He is an outspoken critic of hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking.

Fracking is a process where sand, water and chemicals are pumped into the ground at high pressure in order to fracture shale. Once the shale is broken, the natural gas is then captured and stored. There is much debate over the environmental costs of fracking, including whether it could taint drinking water. Despite that, it’s currently one of the fastest growing sources of gas in the United States, according to the energy company Chevron.

Hassig plans to use the speech as a rally for his campaign and to raise awareness about fracking so that it won’t occur in New York.

“I love the Earth Mother because she has given us the most important gifts of all: air, water, land and fellow inhabitants,” he wrote in a press release. “In my love of the Earth Mother, I know a great duty to protect her. I will do much to insure that no fracking occurs in New York state.”

Hassig has run an advocacy group called Cancer Action NY since 2000, dedicated to stopping the spread of chemical carcinogens he says are causing cancer.

“The petro-chemical industry has poisoned the earth with many toxic substances during the course of the past 100 years,” Hassig wrote. “Fracking is too much poison after too much poisoning already. I want the people to know that the petro-chemical industry has poisoned all of us.”

Environmental groups attempted to bring fracking into the media spotlight last month when they protested Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State address. The groups urged him to ban fracking.

Critics have also argued Cuomo should allow fracking, due to high energy costs. New York and New England have seen the largest natural gas price increases in 2013, according to a U.S. Energy Information Administration report.

Joe Martens, the state Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner, told reporters Monday after a legislative budget hearing that it was “extremely unlikely” permits for fracking would be issued before 2015.

In December, Hassig called people to action to reduce burning fuels at a public forum presentation at the St. Lawrence County’s legislative board room. During the speech he advocated people drive less or take the bus to cut down on pollution. He also said the county, state and the federal government should work together to create an affordable and effective mass transit system in District 21.

“I will do much to insure that no fracking occurs in New York state,” Hassig wrote. “I am willing to take any of a great variety of non-violent actions to protect against fracking.”