The global environment is changing rapidly. Hydrofracking is a new topic of concern and is a corporate issue that will be affecting Central New York.
Sarah Hahn, a junior at Oswego State and president of Students for Global Change, is involved in anti-fracking activism and believes that her club helps make students aware of issues both environmentally and socially.
Hahn wants to bring the issue of hydrofracking to the attention of more people. Hydrofracking is the process of drilling into the ground and then using water to pump gas out of natural oil composites. While hydrofracking is supposed to alleviate U.S.’s dependency on foreign oil, there are ethical issues such as the chemicals put into the ground during the process.
These chemicals could seep into the water supply and threaten the health of people in the surrounding area. The water is supposed to be treated to prevent harm to the public, but, according to Hahn, who recently attended a hydrofracking conference in Dansville, N.Y. with her club, there is a lack of supervision for this standard. She said that the chemicals often are dumped near the hydrofracking sites, killing plants, trees and animals while contaminating local bodies of water.
“They don’t ever follow through with the requirements that are supposed to make it safe,” Hahn said. “Older farmers were talking about how it’s going to ruin crops.”
Some corporations are trying to put hydrofracking into use in central and northern New York with help from Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York.
The organization is informational and educates New Yorkers on the benefits of hydrofracking and digging for natural gas.
In her article published in The New York Times “Report Outlines Rewards and Risks of Upstate Natural Gas Drilling,” Mireya Navarro reported that opponents of hydrofracking say that the process cannot be done without creating pollution in water, along with other environmental hazards. Hydrofracking is already being done in Marcellus, Broome, Chemung and the Tioga counties, and may occur near the Pennsylvania border and the Hewitt State Forest in Cortland County.
Navarro also wrote in a separate article for The New York Times that N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is “hesitant” to sign the document that would allow the drilling, due to concerns about public health coming from New Yorkers. In the article, Brad Gill, the executive director of Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York, comments on this by saying that he is “extremely disappointed in yet another delay.”
Hahn said that people on campus also do not recycle things that they could recycle, such as the to-go cups from the eateries around campus. She said to-go cups are “not trash” and can be disposed of in the recycling bins after they have been emptied.
“It’s such a simple task, yet people don’t do it,” Hahn said.
Hahn said she is further troubled when people waste water around campus.
“People turn the showers on and then use the bathroom while it’s running,” Hahn said. “People around the world don’t have clean water, and we are wasting it.”
According to Hahn, Students for Global Change does monthly cleanups by the lake and lagoon, where they find enough bottles and cans to get over five dollars in returns.
Oswego State student Lily Wood said that the city of Ithaca strives for sustainability by composting trash and separating the trash so that more of it can be recycled. She said that Oswego State dining halls have no way of recycling.
“The Ithaca Farmers Market, Ithaca Bakery and Viva Taqueria, along with many other businesses, all have separate bins for true trash, recyclables and compostable items,” Wood said. “This forces customers to think about their impact on the environment and to be more responsible for the waste they produce. It also is an effective way to reduce the waste created by a specific business.”
“I believe these practices could be very useful at SUNY Oswego as a way of reducing how much we contribute to landfills and also as a way of educating students and staff on being more sustainable,” Wood said.
Wood said that Oswego State should work harder towards educating students on the proper way to recycle.
“People don’t know how,” Wood said. “This is an issue because if you don’t know, you don’t care.”