Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for governor, says Gov. Andrew Cuomo has “brought fracking to New York, even though he hasn't approved drilling.”
Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for governor, says Gov. Andrew Cuomo has “brought fracking to New York, even though he hasn’t approved drilling.”
Under Cuomo’s watch, pipelines, gas storage facilities and gas-fired power plants are being built in New York, Hawkins said, even though Cuomo has kept the state’s de facto moratorium on horizontal hydraulic fracturing in place since he was elected in 2010.
“He is setting up the infrastructure for fracking,” Hawkins said during a press conference Thursday at the Southeast Steuben County Library in Corning.
Hawkins said he wants a permanent ban on fracking in New York, and for the state to convert entirely to renewable energy by 2030. He’s also calling for a ban on importing and treating drilling waste from Pennsylvania and other states.
“If Pennsylvania is dumb enough to frack, then they should have to deal with the waste,” he said.
During his campaign visit to the area Thursday, Hawkins visited the Holding Point industrial park in Horseheads, where roughly a dozen companies involved in shale drilling are located. He also visited the Chemung County Landfill, which accepts drill cuttings that critics say are dangerously radioactive.
Hawkins pointed out that Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino - who is pro-drilling - signed a ban on importing and treating drilling waste in Westchester County, where he’s the county executive, in 2012.
Hawkins also ran for governor in 2010 on an anti-fracking platform, finishing third among seven candidates. He got 59,906 votes, enough to secure a ballot line for the Green Party this November.
He’s realistic about his chances as a minor party candidate - but says he’s got a shot if he can get into gubernatorial debates and raise enough to do some statewide TV ads. He recalled how former pro wrestler Jesse “The Body” Ventura was elected Minnesota governor in 1998 despite sitting at 5 percent in the polls two months before the election.
“We’re a longshot,” Hawkins said. “I don’t know if we’ll win, but we’ll have an impact.”
Hawkins lives in Syracuse. He’s a Teamster who works as a freight handler for UPS. His running mate, lieutenant governor candidate Brian Jones, is a New York City teacher and union activist.
Hawkins’ platform also includes a $15 minimum wage, a publicly funded single-payer health care system, a progressive tax structure, and the elimination of high-stakes testing in public schools.
“The theme of my campaign is a green New Deal for New York, which is basically economic human rights - the right to a job, a living wage, affordable housing, health care, a good education - plus clean energy,” Hawkins said.