What do New York environmental activists know about science that the entire EPA and earth scientists in 20 states do not?
Well, nothing. But science and health was not the reason for New York state's recent decision to formally ban natural gas extraction using hydraulic fracturing - fracking.
Dr. Gil Ross, Senior Director of Medicine and Public Health for the American Council on Science and Health, notes in the New York Post that the issue had little to do with the public and more to do with standard scientization of politics - in this case, wanting a reason to ban fracking and finding someone who would dutifully compile a justification.
For that reason, New York appointing Joe Martens as Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner made perfect sense. Martens was well-known in anti-science circles for being the founding chairman of the "Catskill Mountainkeeper" group, created specifically to get hydraulic fracturing banned. He was President of the Open Space Institute (OSI), also devoted to the usual environmental causes, and stuffed his government fact-finding committees with his friends from both OSI and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) - NRDC founder and long-time President John H. Adams is the Chairman of OSI.
If those anti-science credentials are not enough, also working for the Catskill Mountaineer group was Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who serves as Senior Attorney for the NRDC and is one of the foremost vaccine denialists in America.
Martens did as he was told and created a precautionary principle rationale to implement his pet beliefs about science but Dr. Ross notes the decision is not really helping anyone if, as Martens says, health is at risk due to natural gas. To insure there are no brown-outs in Manhattan this summer, New York is going to buy all of the energy it can get from neighboring Pennsylvania - which will be supplied by the fracking industry. If natural gas extraction is bad for groundwater, which science disputes but environmentalists insist may be happening deep under the surface, surely it would be impacting the New York water table also. But New York s green elites don't care about the health of anyone else. Like the OSI, which seeks to buy up land and create government parks next to the homes of the millionaires that fund it, their movement is entirely self-serving.
The Martens mission to get fracking banned is now complete and so he stepped down and is returning to OSI, better-connected with anti-science corporations and foundations than ever (though it is already stuffed with over $200 million in assets). Now New York has replaced him with someone who knows even less about science - they have put an environmental lawyer in charge.