PO Box 177...
Morris, NY 13808... email: email@example.com
Monday, February 4, 2013
SANE ENERGY PROJECT FEBRUARY 4, 2013
Reportback: Today's State Budget Hearing
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.)
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."
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.
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?' "
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
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."
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
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).
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
The Fight Goes On! Where to be for the Next 2 Weeks:
Day: Call Governor Cuomo:
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.
Feb. 5 @ 7pm, Cooper Union: Divesting from Fossil Fuels,
NYC 350.org and Bill McKibben discuss divesting from fossil fuels. Sane
Energy Project will be there, you can pick up a radon kit, too.
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
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).
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.
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).
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!
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.
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:
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.
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.
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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