Friday, February 22, 2013


Dear Friends:

I am writing to thank you for your support in stopping fracking in New York and also alert you to an urgent situation at the federal level that we are moving on. This email is only received by organizational leaders, and it's crucial that you take action and share this with your networks.  

First, the great news from New York, where the Commissioner from the Department of Health just put the brakes on fracking, saying that, "...the impacts on the public health are properly considered before a state permits drilling."  Our thanks to Governor Cuomo and Dr. Shah for listening to the concerns of countless scientists and health professionals, not to mention the will of the people.  This campaign is far from over and New Yorkers Against Fracking will continue to keep the pressure on, but this is a major development. This success came right on the heals of our running an ad in the Des Moines Register signed onto by over 100 of your organizations, which called on Governor Cuomo to proceed with, "NOT ONE WELL." The ad was covered in Politico, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere and sent a strong message that fracking is a major issue that national leaders must respond to our growing movement.

Americans Against Fracking, thank you!  

We now have another looming and urgent challenge on the horizon:  The Obama Administration is about to tap Ernest Moniz, a fracking cheeleader, as his Energy Secretary.  Moniz serves as director of MIT’s Energy Initiative, whose founding members include Shell, Saudi Aramco, ENI and BP Technology Ventures, Inc. He supports fracked natural gas as a “bridge fuel” and has testified to congress that the environmental problems associated with fracking are “challenging but manageable.” This appointment could come as early as later today.  

On Monday, while 50,000 people were marching in Washington DC opposing the Keystone pipeline, fracking, and climate change, the president was enjoying a day of golf with gas and oil executives at a private club in Florida.  If this is a sign of things to come, we're in big trouble.  

Take action - and share this in your networks!  We need to get the word out and send a strong message to President Obama that if he is serious about climate change, he should not appoint someone who promotes our reliance on fracked gas. Below are two action alerts from Food & Water Watch and CREDO Action.  We encourage you to circulate one of these alerts, or create a petition of your own to put a stop to this disastrous decision!  

See Food & Water Watch's alert here.
See CREDO Action's alert here

Also, click to share this meme on your organization's Facebook page.

As this decision could be imminent, we are going to submit the letter below later today to President Obama to tell him that we need a climate leader in the Department of Energy - and Ernest Moniz is not that leader.  

Finally, we are a young coalition and we have a lot to figure out, but in the coming weeks, we will be sending out a survey to help determine how we can increase our impact and more fully involve all the organizations that make up Americans Against Fracking!  Stay tuned. 

Thanks for all you do!

David and the Americans Against Fracking Team 

Here is the Letter to President Obama:

Dear President Obama,

We are writing on behalf on Americans Against Fracking, a national coalition of over 190 national, state and local organizations, to oppose the rumored appointment of Dr. Ernest Moniz to the position of Secretary of Energy. While we appreciate your recent public comments about the need to address climate change, appointing Dr. Moniz, a proponent of hydraulic fracturing with close ties to the oil and gas industry, would be a major step backwards.

Fracking and drilling for gas and oil gas pose direct threats to our water, air, health, and climate. The risks and impacts on air and water have been well documented and are supported by extensive research (see attached partial list of citations). While effects on air and water are reason enough to reject fracking, research shows that drilling and fracking for natural gas contributes to climate change. The carbon dioxide emitted from burning natural gas contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions driving global climate change (Myhrvold and Caldeira, 2012). And, in addition to carbon dioxide, high-volume hydraulic fracturing releases significant amounts of methane into the atmosphere during the extraction, transport and processing of the gas.  Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, 33 times more efficient at trapping heat than carbon dioxide over 100 years, and about 100 times more potent than carbon dioxide over 20 years (Shindell et al. 2009).

As such, even small amounts of gas leaked into the atmosphere make enormous contributions to global warming. (Myhrvold and Caldeira, 2012). Increasing evidence, including a study led by researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, indicates that methane emissions from high volume hydraulic fracturing and related operations have been significantly underestimated by both the gas industry and the Environmental Protection Agency (Petron et al. 2012). The widespread use of natural gas is not a solution to climate change.

This is why your rumored appointment of Dr. Moniz is so disturbing. Moniz serves as director of MIT’s Energy Initiative, whose founding members include Shell, Saudi Aramco, ENI and BP Technology Ventures, Inc. The rest of the sustaining and associate members read as a who’s who of the oil and gas industry. Moniz views natural gas obtained by drilling and fracking as a key piece of our energy plan over the “next couple of decades.” In testimony before Congress in July 2011, he called “environmental risks, which arise from shale development” including “contamination of groundwater aquifers with drilling fluids or natural gas” “challenging but manageable.” He referred to natural gas as “a cost-effective bridge to…a low carbon future,” but we know based on research that natural gas is a bridge to nowhere.

Mr. President, we were heartened when you proclaimed your intention to act quickly to combat climate change in your 2013 inaugural address, stating that “we will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.” Those words were inspiring, and last weekend 50,000 people came to Washington D.C., to support you in those efforts. But actions speak louder than words and appointing a strong proponent of extracting dirty fossil fuels as our nation’s energy secretary will lead us in the wrong direction.

The person you choose as Secretary of Energy will be key to charting how we address climate change. We desperately need to move away from dirty fossil fuels towards a clean energy future, and we need an energy secretary who has the vision and the independence to do this. Please select someone who will fill that vision and do not appoint Dr. Ernest Moniz.

Citations for documentation of risks and impacts to air and water:

Bamberger, Michelle and Robert E. Oswald. “Impacts of gas drilling on human and animal health.” New Solutions, Scientific Solutions, vol. 22, iss. 1. January 2012 at 51 to 77

Colborn, Theo et al. “Natural Gas Operations from a Public Health Perspective." International Journal of Human and Ecological Risk Assessment, vol. 17, iss. 5. September 2011 at 1041 and 1042

Entrekin, Sally et al. “Rapid expansion of natural gas development poses a threat to surface waters.” Frontiers in Ecology, vol. 9, iss. 9. October 2011 at 503

Finley, Bruce. “Drilling spills rise in Colorado, but fines rare.” The Denver Post. September 9, 2011.

Gilman, Jessica B. et al. “Source signature of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from oil and natural gas operations in northeastern Colorado.” Environmental Science & Technology. Accepted for publication January 14, 2013.

Kusnetz, Nicholas. “North Dakota’s oil boom brings damage along with prosperity.” ProPublica. June 7, 2012.

Lustgarten, Abrahm. “Buried Secrets: Is natural gas drilling endangering U.S. water supplies?” ProPublica. November 13, 2008.

McKenzie, Lisa M. et al. “Human health risk assessment of air emissions from development of unconventional natural gas resources.” Science of the Total Environment, vol. 424. May 2012 at 79 to 87

Myers, Tom. “Potential contaminant pathways from hydraulically fractured shale to aquifers.” Ground Water. April 17, 2012 at 3 to 4

Osborn, Stephen G. et al. “Methane contamination of drinking water accompanying gas-well drilling and hydraulic fracturing.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 108, iss. 20. May 17, 2011 at 8173 and 8175.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Advocates for Morris Was There!

Dangers of Hydrofracking

Dangers of hydrofracking revealed

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I expect our elected officials to do the right thing and look out for our common welfare. I also expect the press to call officials on their “stuff” when they try to deceive the public. So I was (once more) appalled by all the information that we have not been told about hydrofracking. For those who haven’t watched it, I am referring to the information shown on Canadian TV. The program was “the Nature of Things.” The show was “Shattered Ground.” I recommend that everyone who hasn’t seen it try to get a copy of this show.

I can’t go into all the issues, but I do want to mention the most important facts presented. The gas drillers do not know which wells will shatter as planned and which wells will shatter vertically into an aquifer. The drillers do not know how to clean up the contamination once it enters the aquifer. They do not know which wells will have their cement liners crack under the force of the high pressure water used in the process. What we do know is that contaminated water can’t be cleaned properly and changed back into drinkable water. I had thought that the water was being sent to filtration plants, but apparently it didn’t work.

We know that vast amounts of our drinking water are used to drill each well, and it is brought in by an army of huge trucks. This water must then be trucked away and buried deep underground, where it is lost for human consumption forever. This process has caused earthquakes. We are talking of whole lakes’ worth of our water gone forever with no one saying “No, we can’t afford to lose this much drinkable water!” Why is only this lone Canadian show talking about this?

The show also reported that the poisonous fumes from the operating wells are allowed to release over 1,300 tons of toxic fumes including neurotoxins into the air every day, and wells can be within 350 feet of a residence. Kids are coming down with all kinds of respiratory symptoms. No one has done any long-term studies of health effects. What has happened to environmental impact studies?

According to the show, methane gas levels reached explosive levels in homes after a well as put in..
The industry has rushed in for profits before the technology is ready and only Vermont has banned hydrofracking. Who really benefits from the drilling, and who is really paying the price?
The madness must end. The problems need to be solved first. Please write our state officials.
Claudia Smith

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

NYS Health Commissioner Shah: DOH Needs More Time

Shah: Fracking health review needs time (updated)

State Health Commissioner Dr. Nirav Shah has sent a letter to DEC Commissioner Joe Martens that says the DOH will need more time to complete its review of the health impact assessment of hydrofracking contained in DEC’s mammoth environmental impact statement.
From the letter:
The time to ensure the impacts on public health are properly considered is before a state permits drilling. Other states began serious health reviews only after proceeding with widespread HVHF.
In my view, that is not the right approach for New York to take if we are serious that public health is the paramount question in making the HVHF decision. And as Health Commissioner, protecting the public health is my primary job.
The Department of Health review of the EIS is on-going. In particular we are focused on the relationship of HVHF to the health impacts of drinking water contamination, but also other areas such as air quality and community impacts.
In recent weeks, work has been initiated or published by the scientific community to analyze these health impacts and which may help in addressing these areas. These are the first comprehensive studies of HVHF health impacts at either the state or federal level. They include:
  • The US EPA hydraulic fracturing study. This is a study of potential impacts of HVHF on drinking water resources. Commissioned by Congress, this includes 18 research related projects. The EPA published a 278 page progress report a few weeks ago which we are reviewing.
  • Geisinger Health Systems study. Geisinger, which cares for many patients in areas where shale gas is being developed in Pennsylvania, is undertaking studies to analyze health records for asthma and other respiratory diseases, accidents and injuries, as well as birth outcomes.
  • University of Pennsylvania study. A study of HVHF health impacts was recently announced, led by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and in collaboration with scientists from Columbia, Johns Hopkins and the University of North Carolina.
As we have been reviewing the scope of these studies, I have determined — and prudence dictates — that the DOH Public Health Review will require additional time to complete based on the complexity of the issues. My team and I will be in Pennsylvania and Washington in the coming days for first-hand briefings on these studies and their progress, which will assist in informing the New York review. I have also extended the term of the DOH outside expert researchers to continue to assist my review. I anticipate delivering the completed Public Health Review to you within a few weeks, along with my recommendations.
From the inception of this process, the Governor’s instruction has been to let the science determine the outcome. As a physician and scientist, I could not agree more.
Whatever the ultimate decision on HVHF going ahead, New Yorkers can be assured that it will be pursuant to a rigorous review that takes the time to examine the relevant health issues.
Here’s Martens’ statement in response:
Commissioner Shah advised me today that the Public Health Review of the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) of high-volume hydraulic fracturing is still on-going.
The Department of Health’s (DOH) Public Health Review, which was undertaken at my request, is important to our consideration of high-volume hydraulic fracturing and I will not issue a final SGEIS until that review is complete and I have received Dr. Shah’s recommendations. He has indicated he expects his review to be complete in a few weeks after he has had an opportunity to review recent studies underway which are pertinent to the evaluation of high-volume hydraulic fracturing impacts on public health.
The previously proposed high-volume hydraulic fracturing regulations cannot be finalized until the SGEIS is complete. However, this does not mean that the issuance of permits for high-volume hydraulic fracturing would be delayed. If the DOH Public Health Review finds that the SGEIS has adequately addressed health concerns, and I adopt the SGEIS on that basis, DEC can accept and process high-volume hydraulic fracturing permit applications 10 days after issuance of the SGEIS. The regulations simply codify the program requirements.
If, on the other hand, the DOH review finds that there is a public health concern that has not been assessed in the SGEIS or properly mitigated, we would not proceed, as I have stated in the past.
In either event, the science, not emotion, will determine the outcome.


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The sun'll come up tomorrow?

Yes, yes it will. And then the lawsuits will start. Whatever happens after the expected announcements about fracking on February 13th, we're in this together. See you on the other side of Wednesday.

Order Your Radon Test Kit Before Feb. 28th!

radon stove sm
We are testing the radon levels in the gas coming from our kitchen stoves, because if any of the 5 planned gas infrastructure projects surrounding NYC go online, the danger of exposure to cancer-causing radon could put city residents at grave risk.
Reserve your kit ASAP by completing the online application. Don't delay––the test program ends soon! This week, pick up a kit on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday nights. You can prepay online and have a kit mailed to you ($18), or bring exact change ($15) to any of the pickup locations. The more people who can pay full price, the more scholarships we can offer.
Watch the video explaining how easy it is. Still not up to speed on why radon from fracked gas is so risky? Check out this primer.

LAST DAY to Intervene in the Rockaway Pipeline

Just as we did with the Spectra pipeline, opponents to the Rockaway Transco pipeline must intervene before the FERC deadline if they wish to have legal standing to challenge the pipeline later. The Rockaway Lateral would carry high-pressure fracked gas into Gateway National Recreation Area, threatening a wetlands and beaches that thousands use every day. And this in an area hit hard by Hurricane Sandy.
Instructions on how to intervene are found on the website of CARP (the Coalition Against the Rockaway Pipeline). Opposed to fracking? Pipelines like this increase the demand to frack––YOU'RE a stakeholder. Live in the gas fields of Pennsylvania? That's where this gas is coming from––you're also a stakeholder. Know friends in Queens, Brooklyn, Long Island? Tell them too.

Emergency Rally, Today @ 2pm in Binghamton

blue banner MD
Meet at 2pm in the State Office Building
for a rally directed at Governor Cuomo, rumored to be floating a plan to drill between 10 and 40 test wells in the Southern Tier before the regulations are complete, with the intent of "studying" the effects. Southern counties must not be a test case for a proven toxic industry. Speakers include Dr. Sandra Steingraber, Craig Stevens and others.
Where: State Office Building
44 Hawley Street, Binghamton.

Weds., Feb. 13th: Two Big Fracking Events, NYC

A Community Forum On Hydrofracking; Our City, our State and our Future. Discussion of the news out of Albany will no doubt be high on the agenda, plus looking at how fracking affects NYC.
6:30pm at Ansche Chesed, 251 West 100th Street. Sponsored by: State Senators Adriano Espaillat and Jose Serrano; Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal; Councilmember Gale Brewer; District leader Marc Landis; Food and Water Watch; Sane Energy Project and Environment New York. RSVP to Ben Schachter at 212-544-0173 or
Sane Energy Project will have radon test kits available. Please complete the online registration beforehand if possible.
What's in the Water? 7pm, Cooper Union's Rose Auditorium, 41 Cooper Square (Third Avenue between 6th and 7th Streets). This event is free and open to the public, RSVP at link above. The Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) debuts "What's in the Water?," a poster that breaks down the fracking process and shows how it could impact the food and water supplies of New York City. CUP worked with Damascus Citizens for Sustainability and the design studio Papercut to create the fold-out poster (which was posted in over 200 subway locations). CUP will be joined by Al Appleton, a Senior Fellow at the Cooper Union Institute for Sustainable Design, and Barry Estabrook, author of Tomatoland, and well known for writing about issues of food safety and justice.

Thurs., Feb 14th @ 6pm, Spectra/Con Ed Hearing, NYC

CB4 Hearing on the Proposed Con Ed extension of the Spectra pipeline:
Until very recently, the community board of Chelsea/Clinton was unaware that the Spectra pipeline would affect them. Although the planned Con Ed extension is set to begin construction in April, no one at CB4 has seen a map, construction documents, an emergency response plan––Nada. But now that they've been alerted, CB4 has made their regular monthly meeting into a forum on the pipeline, inviting Spectra and Con Ed to answer questions from the community. Because of the larger-than-usual expected attendance, they've moved from their usual Chelsea meeting place to a few blocks north, in Clinton (what used to be known as "Hell's Kitchen").
The pipeline extension is slated to run up 10th Avenue to 15th Street, alongside the beloved High Line park and near galleries, shops, residences and hotels. The pipeline will sit a block away from Google's NYC headquarters and adjacent to the Whitney's collection of irreplacable art.
Since it's being held on Valentine's Day, we know you'll want to attend and show Spectra the love (especially since the sweet nothings they whispered at the last hearing left us wanting more). What happened when Con Ed and Spectra met with the community last December in the West Village? Read all about it, here, or watch the video. Questions about the route, the construction, an emergency response plan, and the lack of an environmental review remain unanswered, and questions about radon were thoroughly swept under the rug.
Public participation is highly encouraged: Community Board Four meeting, Thursday, February 14, 6pm, at 351 West 42nd Street (near 9th Avenue). Since we're likely to be feeling all electrified following our encounter with Con Edison, we'll meet up for a Valentine cocktail afterwards, at West Bank Cafe (42nd street at 9th Ave, just down the block).

Thursday, Feb. 14th, SRBC Hearing in Harrisburg, PA:

The Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) will hold a public hearing on February 14 at 1 pm regarding water withdrawal applications. These water withdrawals will have a detrimental impact on New York State and enable fracking. Then at 3pm, the Commission will hold another hearing on its new proposed rule to better protect small headwater streams. Where: Pennsylvania State Capitol, Room 8E-B, East Wing, off Commonwealth Avenue in Harrisburg, PA.
If you can’t make it to the hearings, written comments can be submitted until February 25. Send them by mail to SRBC, 1721 N. Front Street, Harrisburg, PA 17102–2391, by email to, or online. To learn more and take action to protect the Susquehanna, click here.

Saturday, Feb. 16th, Minisink Rally

Minisink residents’ fight to stop the insane compressor station is gaining support from people and organizations far beyond Minisink because the outcome will affect communities across the country. Actor/Activist Mark Ruffalo will rally next Saturday right across from the compressor station, along with John Feal, 9/11 first responder advocate and President of the Fealgood Foundation. Info here.

Climate Rally, Sunday, Feb. 17th, Washington DC:

350 end climate silnce
Forward on Climate Rally: MORE THAN 100 buses are going! Departures from Upper Manhattan, Midtown, 3 Brooklyn locations, the Rockaways, the Bronx, and Westchester. Register here. National buses, more info here.
Can't make it to the rally?
Check out this amazing way to still make your voice heard and watch the live stream!

Monday, February 11, 2013


Frackin’ Andy. Cuomo Gets Sued

Cuomo’s DEC, has done a pretty sorry job impersonating an environmental agency when it comes to fracking.  Hiding health studies.  Covering up draft regulations that the frackers did not approve of. Just generally behaving like he’d been bought. So now it’s time to pay the piper – and get sued. First ones to the court house looks like it will be Team Slottje. Imagine that. Why wait ? Beat the Valentine’s Day rush. Support Team Slottje.
Cuomo Refuses to Release Science that Proposed Frack Regulations are Premised Upon
oh frack
As the DEC  and Governor Cuomo contemplate their next step in the ongoing sham of a fracking review process, the DEC continues to refuse to release the scientific reports that the proposed high volume horizontal fracking regulations are required to be premised upon. Under New York law, the DEC must release within thirty days after being asked all scientific studies that are used as the basis for a proposed rule. On this past January 11th, we requested copies of all reports that formed the basis for the proposed fracking regulations.The DEC had until today, February 11th, to respond, and has failed to. Today CEDC sent a letter to the DEC demanding that the records be made available immediately and put the DEC on notice that if it fails to respond that we will bring a suit to compel production of the reports and to stop the proposed regulations from being enacted.Read the letter here: CEDC Letter to DEC

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Towns Will Face Significant Fiscal Impacts

Is hydrofracking an unfunded mandate? (video added)

That’s what a new group, Elected Officials to Protect New York, is saying, pointing to potential costs of dealing with a boom that could be created by allowing hydrofracking in New York, and to what they say are the uncertain long term benefits.
The group, which includes 612 members and includes outspoken officials such as Thompson County legislator Martha Robertson just held a press conference. Some of their concerns echoed those issued on Tuesday by the state Association of Counties, which is calling for the state to analyze local government costs of hydrofracking if it begins.
The process, of course, isn’t currently allowed in New York and the debate over whether it should or shouldn’t be allowed is taking much of the air out of broader environmental discussions such as the budget hearing earlier this week.
Update: Here’s video from the press conference:
Here’s their release:
On the heels of a statement from the New York State Association of Counties calling fracking a new mandate and questioning how fracking will impact municipal budgets, Elected Officials to Protect New York (EOPNY) held a press conference detailing the costs of fracking on local governments and economies and called fracking a new unfunded mandate. EOPNY is a nonpartisan, geographically diverse group of 612 local elected officials from all 62 New York State counties. New York State’s fracking review has exhaustively considered – and significantly inflated – potential benefits of fracking but has entirely neglected to analyze negative municipal and economic impacts, leaving local governments and communities in a dangerous position as a key fracking decision deadline closes in. They concluded that, given the many remaining unanswered questions, there should be no decision by the arbitrary deadline of February 27. But if a decision must be made by then, there is enough information to say “no” to fracking in New York, but not enough to say “yes”.
EOPNY also revealed that after 7 months of requesting a meeting to discuss their concerns, Governor Cuomo formally rejected their request, even though he met with representatives of the gas industry on May 9, 2012, yet to public knowledge has not met with anyone with concerns about fracking. They also revealed (attached) back and forth letters with DEC Commissioner Martens, in which the elected officials have been met with a frustrating level of secrecy.
“There are major costs associated with fracking that the state has acknowledged but not analyzed or planned for,” said Tompkins County Legislature Chair Martha Robertson. “Those include significant municipal, community, economic, public health, and environmental costs. As it stands, fracking stands to jeopardize our constituents’ health and well-being, meanwhile creating a new unfunded mandate on local governments.”
The elected officials noted that predictions of economic benefits have not held true in Pennsylvania and other states where fracking is already happening, and that they are based on inflated and outdated shale gas reserve estimates.
“The gas industry’s claims of job creation are wildly overstated and most of the drilling jobs go to non-local workers. Estimates of jobs and tax revenues are based on gas reserve estimates significantly greater than what the latest U.S. Geological Survey study shows,” said Town of Rochester Supervisor Carl Chipman. “It is unconscionable that New Yorkers are being asked to accept so much risk based on the pivotal promise of jobs and tax revenues, when the promises appear to be spin and propaganda.”
The DEC’s own study, consulted out to Ecology & Environment, Inc., identifies that local governments would experience “some significant negative fiscal impacts” due to fracking including “road construction, improvement, and repair expenditures…expenditures on emergency services such as fire, police, and first aid…additional expenditures on public water supply systems…local governments would be required to increase expenditures on other services, such as education, housing, health and welfare, recreation, and solid waste management to serve the additional population”.
Shockingly, that is where the state’s report ends, with no analysis and no numbers. There is no analysis or evaluation to inform a decision about fracking and there is no plan to avert heavy burdens on local governments and economies.
“Fracking is a new unfunded mandate on local governments. The DEC’s own report said so,” said Albany County Legislator Bryan Clenahan.
The officials noted that they have long called for the state to do a thorough socioeconomic analysis. Town of Otsego Councilmember Julie Huntsman said, “The DEC has failed in its responsibility to property analyze the socioeconomic impacts of fracking and as such does not fulfill basic SEQRA requirements.”
EOPNY has pursued a meeting with Governor Cuomo since June, as his partners in government who are concerned about fracking. They objected to the fact that the governor has met with representatives of the out-of-state oil & gas industry but will not meet with representatives of a group of 600+ elected officials from across the state. Town of Pulteney Supervisor Jane Russell said, “We question the Governor’s priorities if he has time to meet with representatives of the fracking industry but no time to meet with the representatives of our mutual constituents, the people of New York.”
Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan, Owego Mayor Kevin Millar, and Elmira Mayor Sue Skidmore released this joint statement, “As mayors from the largest cities in the Southern Tier, we are greatly concerned about the municipal costs and economic impacts of fracking. The Cuomo administration’s review noted potential impacts but entirely neglected to study them, instead only presenting potential benefits based on outdated and inflated gas reserve estimates. Governor Cuomo does not have the economic information to make an informed decision about fracking, and fracking threatens to jeopardize already-struggling local governments’ economic vitality, and the public health of our citizens.”
The officials also raised grave concerns about the secrecy and inadequacy of the state’s health review. EOPNY has called for a comprehensive health impact assessment, as well as for public comment and participation on the current review.
“Many health professionals have raised essential questions on this topic, but the administration has failed to answer them,” said Village of Cooperstown Trustee James Dean. “What are they hiding? We believe that a health review done in secret, with no public participation whatsoever, is insufficient to address the significant concerns to public health from fracking.”
The officials revealed a letter they received in January from DEC Commissioner Martens in response to a letter EOPNY sent him in early December. Martens’ letter was filled with empty assurances, continued the state’s secrecy around fracking, and contained no substantive responses to the concerns raised.
EOPNY released their January 28, 2013 letter responding to Martens, which ended, “We believe that New York State has not met its legal responsibility or its good government responsibility to thoroughly study all concerns related to fracking, allow public participation, and give adequate consideration to concerns raised by the public. For these reasons we believe the state does not have the grounds to allow fracking. If you must make a decision at this time, the precautionary principle dictates that your agency must choose to prohibit it.”
After the press conference, the officials delivered a letter to Governor Cuomo on behalf of EOPNY that raises concerns about speculation that the state is considering allowing ten to forty fracking wells potentially described as a demonstration project.
The letter states, “We do not see this as a viable option. We believe that under such a plan the gas industry or other entities would sue to open up other areas of the state, and that you would in effect leave the fate of all our constituents in the hands of the legal system. It is highly questionable that the state could have the ability to pick and choose permits for even a small fracking pilot program in the Southern Tier. Against your best intentions, we fear that opening the door to the gas industry for even one well could turn into an uncontrollable situation.”
Other elected officials at the press conference included Town of Clay Supervisor Damian M. Ulatowski, Albany County Legislator Doug Bullock, and Albany County Legislator Charlie Dawson, Albany Common Councilmember Dominick Calsolaro.

Monday, February 4, 2013


Reportback: Today's State Budget Hearing

Today's intense Joint Senate/Assembly Environmental Conservation Budget Hearing for 2013-2014 hosted DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens, in a room packed with activists. The focus of questions from many, if not most, was on hydrofracking. Some highlights below:
(Quotes may be somewhat paraphrased.)
Senator Tony Avella, from Queens, was direct: "You're doing a great job except for hydrofracking." Referring to the team of doctors reviewing the SGEIS, "My concern is that these three scientists are looking at nothing . . . the DEC is punting it back to Health [DOH], and Health is punting back to DEC." To Avella, it seems that the DEC has "already made a decision that no matter what the health impacts are, you're going to mitigate it, rather than ask whether or not you should go ahead with this." Martens responded, "I fundamentally disagree, there are no forgone conclusions."
Freshman Senator Terry Gipson, from Dutchess/Putnam, went after Martens with a pit bull tone of voice (while repeatedly thanking him for his patience), asking about costs to tourism, police and fire, roads and highways, and requested a dollar amount for what this will cost per well, saying the SGEIS glosses over the details, and "only 7 pages address these questions." Martens repeatedly begged off this and several other specific questions saying it is a GENERIC impact statement, therefore they can't be more specific because the activity hasn't happened here, so it's all hypothetical.
Assembly Member Barbara Lifton, from the Ithaca/Tompkins County area, focused on the Health Impact Assessment, chiding Martens for not having included health impacts from the beginning, adding, "Now, in the last 4 months, to tag on a health assessment that appears to be done by DEC," is an "unacceptable process." Martens responded that he "feels DEC has been very responsive to concerns for health by the public," has suggested the most aggressive mitigation measures to avoid release of chemicals, but that "clearly the public health community was not satisfied with that." Martens added he would "rather Dr Shah look at this and come back and tell us, 'Have you looked at all the impacts?' "
Senator Liz Kreuger, of Manhattan, asked about abandoned wells and unplugged, leaking wells, and asked whether it would be the obligation of the drillers to plug wells and do cleanup. Martens began, "We can compel," correcting himself to say, "We WOULD compel them," to do clean up as part of the permitting process. After conferring with an assistant, he clarified that, "plugging wells is a requirement under existing law." [Although as Kreuger had pointed out, thousands of abandoned "legacy" wells remain unplugged.]
Finally, Kreuger asked, "It's not in the budget so can we assume nothing will go forward in next 12 months?" Martens responded, "We are not going to permit anything we don't have funds to support." Senator Mark Grisante followed up by asking pointedly, "Is there any funding in this budget for HVHF?" Martens answered, "NO."
Assembly Member Steve Englebright, of Long Island, questioned Martens on aquifers and another legislator asked about setbacks near schools. Martens noted the [completely inadequate] requested increase to a 1000-foot setback [although laterals can project out more than a mile horizontally, making any setback meaningless].
Martens was hammered several times with questions about the speed with which the DEC has processed 200,000 new comments vs earlier processing of 60,000 comments, and whether there will be a formal public comment period on the HIA. Martens joked repeatedly that he "was sure the public would comment on it," until pressed by AM Lifton, when he answered he "doesn't know until he sees Dr Shah's recommendations," and "for all he knows" Dr. Shah could recommend HVHF not go forward (to loud applause).
In closing, AM Lifton noted how PA has a gag order on doctors which she assumed was put in place at the request of industry, rather than at the request of Pennsylvania's citizens, with that alone being just one instance of the industry's "record of incomptence and malfeasance." She then asked Martens, "Do you feel uncomfortable to allow that industry into this state?" and "Where are you on your overall thinking on doctors gag orders?" Martens said, "I feel the same as you do about doctors gag orders," but, "I'm afraid anything I say will be taken out of context" (which got a big laugh). He went on, "I don't feel it's fair to condemn a whole industry; there are charletans in the health industry too; the question is can you properly regulate them." Lifton finished by saying the problems were with the industry as a whole, not one company.
As the session ended, the audience took up a loud chant of "NOT ONE WELL" and exited the chambers chanting "Ban Fracking Now." Another opportunity to dialog with the DEC comes up on Wednesday in NYC (see, "Where to be for the Next 2 Weeks," below.

Case Dismissed.
Unhappily, our state level case against the HRPT/Spectra/Con Ed has been dismissed, with the judge ruling that our concerns should be addressed at the federal level rather than by the State. This is disappointing, but we still feel that it was worth the effort and was the right thing to do. It was necessary for someone to go after them and we're glad we did. We could not have stood by all these past months, not having tried every means available to fight the pipeline.
The case has, at the least, continued to draw attention to the issue. The Con Ed/Spectra Community Board 2 hearing, held in December, was required as a result of this case. In fact, CB4 is now holding a similar meeting with Con Ed and Spectra (on Feb. 14th) as a result. We are happy that the community has benefitted by this and our other efforts to alert the public.
Our attorneys feel there are good grounds for an appeal, and as much as we'd like to pursue that, the financial burden on a small grassroots group such as ours is too great, therefore we are unable to proceed with further actions.
Because of the way our regulatory and judicial system are organized, FERC has been able to delay the start of the federal lawsuits while allowing construction to begin. The federal case, which will be brought by Sierra Club and Food and Water Watch, along with several NJ plaintiffs, will not kick into action until later this Spring––possibly after construction on the final leg of the Manhattan portion goes forward, and while Con Ed is allowed to start their extension into Chelsea. Meanwhile, construction on the New Jersey portion has continued all winter. We're hoping for a better outcome on the federal suit, and with several members of Sane Energy Project and our community already members of the Sierra Club, we will continue to be involved.
We want to thank our legal team, and all our co-plaintiffs and individual petitioners for the work and sacrifices they've made to take on this suit with us. Thanks to the leadership and members of United for Action, NYC Friends of Clearwater, NYH20, Village Independent Democrats, and Food and Water Watch. Our thanks to everyone who has contributed or will contribute to the legal fund (the bulk of those costs remain to be paid), and to all our members, for your participation and investment in this venture. To continue to support us, please consider becoming a member today.

The Fight Goes On! Where to be for the Next 2 Weeks:

Every Day: Call Governor Cuomo: 866-584-6799
Tuesday, Feb. 5 @ 11:45 am, Binghamton:
Don't Frack Our Health! Protest the secret, rushed heath impact "study." Rally and press conference with Dr. Sandra Steingraber and others. Unitarian Universalist Congregation Social Hall. Potluck lunch immediately following the rally, 183 Riverside Drive, Unitarian Universalist Congregation, More info here.
Tuesday, Feb. 5 @ 7pm, Cooper Union:
Divesting from Fossil Fuels, NYC and Bill McKibben discuss divesting from fossil fuels. Sane Energy Project will be there, you can pick up a radon kit, too.
Wednesday, Feb. 6th @ 12 noon, Long Island City. Visit the DEC to send a direct message to Cuomo! Easy and fast subway via G train to the 21st St. Station, or the 7 to the Hunter's Point, or just over the Pulaski Bridge from Williamsburg and Greenpoint. 1 Hunter's Point Plaza, 47-40 21st St., Long Island City, NY 11101
Friday, Feb. 8th @ noon, Manhattan:
Rally outside Governor Cuomo's NYC office, make sure he knows downstate and upstate are in solidarity. No sacrifice zones! 633 Third Avenue (between 40th & 41st Streets).
Saturday, Feb. 9th @ 12:30pm, Minisink, Orange County:
Actor, Mark Ruffalo, and 9/11 first responder advocate, John Feal, will join the fight against the Minisink Compression station at a rally to be held directly across from the construction site at 107 Jacobs Road, Westtown, N.Y. 10998.
Saturday, Feb. 9th @ 7pm, Lower East Side: Keystone XL fundraiser. Sane Energy Project and OTP will also discuss the Spectra pipeline. Bluestockings Bookstore/cafe, 172 Allen Street, NYC (map).
Thursday, Feb. 14th @ 6pm, Chelsea:
CB4, the community board just north of the West Village, will host a hearing on the Con Edision extention to the Spectra Pipeline, location TBD (check our events page for updates). Con Ed and Spectra spokespeople will be present. And you know how much fun it was last time!

Sunday, Feb. 17th, in Washington, DC: Forward on Climate. 15,000-20,000 are expected. Buses depart from Upper Manhattan, Midtown, 3 Brooklyn locations, even the Bronx. Register here. Other buses, more info here.
Sunday, Feb. 17th @ 6:30pm, Binghamton: Attend the Broome County Comprehensive Plan meeting. Fight the pro-fracking agenda. Town of Chenango Town Hall (map.)
Where to Get a Radon Kit:

Our NYC Citizen Radon Test is so important because we MUST document existing conditions NOW, to safeguard our future. By documenting baseline levels in our current gas supply, we'll have proof, should radon levels rise as a result of the use of shale gas.
Pick up your kit TONIGHT at the OWS Environmental Solidarity meeting (5:30-7pm), the Atrium at the southwest corner of 42nd Street and Park Avenue (map). See Donna or JK. Please complete the online application. You can prepay online or bring exact change ($15). More locations here.
Watch the video explaining how easy it is. Still not up to speed on why radon from fracked gas is so risky? Check out this primer.
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