New York is reportedly the United States’ third-largest producer of organic foods, with 1,600 organic farms scattered throughout the state. With this in mind, there could be a lot to lose if New York declines to extend its current ban on the underground fuel extraction technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” Many have begun voicing their concerns to New York state officials that, if fracking is allowed into the state, each and every one of those farms could be in jeopardy of losing its certified organic status.
The Hornell Evening Tribune spoke with Gael Orr, communications manager at New York-based organic nut butter producer Once Again Nut Butters, about these concerns. An organic certified company with the slogan “We Spread Integrity,” Once Again is a vocal opponents of fracking in New York, and released a newsletter in January noting that hydrofracking is exempt from such federal statutes as the Safe Water Drinking Act, the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, the Compensation and Liability Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act. If hydrofracking were to produce groundwater pollution within the state (a very real possibility), that could potentially render many current organic farms no longer fit for certification.
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“Once Again Nut Butter, we’re lucky,” Orr told the Tribune. “If there was a water contamination issue in Nunda, we could still operate here. We could truck in our own water here, potentially. There’s different things we could do.” Other farms wouldn’t be so lucky, however, and even then she noted that having to truck in water would raise costs significantly. Orr also pointed out that even groundwater pollution could change honeybee patterns and make local honey harder to source.
A public hearing on hydrofracking in New York is scheduled to take place on February 8. If the current ban is allowed to expire, the change will take place on June 1, 2012.