April 18, 2013:
URGENT ACTION ALERT
Three upstate New York community members, charged with criminal trespass for blockading a gas company installation last month, were sentenced to 15 days in jail on Wednesday by a local judge in an upstate courthouse.
Among those sentenced was university biology professor and author Sandra Steingraber, who delivered an impassioned statement ahead of the sentencing explaining why she was compelled to civil disobedience and why she would refuse to pay the fine levied by the judge.
"My small, non-violent act of trespass," said Steingraber to the crowd, "is set against a larger, more violent one: the trespass of hazardous chemicals into water and air and thereby into our bodies. This is a form of toxic trespass."
Steingraber's full sentencing statement follows:
Good afternoon. My name is Sandra Steingraber. I’m a biologist and a Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Ithaca College. I’m 53 years old and the mother of an 11-year-old son and a 14-year-old daughter. I’m married to an art teacher, and we all live in the village of Trumansburg, which is about 15 miles to the northeast, as the crow flies.Sandra Steingraber. (Portrait by Robert Shetterly / Americans Who Tell the Truth)
On March 18, 2013, together with 11 other local residents, I stood in the driveway of this site, which is owned by the Kansas City-based energy company called Inergy and located on the west bank of Seneca Lake. In so doing, I broke the law and am charged with trespassing. Before my arrest, I and the others with whom I linked arms, temporarily blocked a truck carrying a drill head from going where it wanted to go. This is my first experience with civil disobedience. Here is an explanation of my actions.
First, and most importantly, this act of civil disobedience is a last resort for me. Prior to this, I and other community members have taken every legal avenue to raise the serious health, economic, and environmental concerns associated with the Inergy plant. However, time and again, we’ve been deterred from participating in the decision-making process. For example, Inergy has declared the geological history of the salt caverns to be proprietary business information, so that much of the basic science on the structural integrity of the salt caverns is hidden from view. How can we offer informed public comments and raise scientific objection when we are denied this fundamental information?
Inergy has asked for fast-track FERC approval and that we fear that authorities are poised to rubber stamp these applications before the public has had a chance to review all the relevant information and the full impacts of these combined projects have been considered.
This act of civil disobedience was also undertaken to bring attention to the fact that this company has been out of compliance with the Clean Water Act every quarter for the last 12 quarters—which is as far back as the data go–exceeding its effluent discharge limit. For this behavior, the company has been fined, not once, but twice, to the tune of over $30,000.
Effluent discharge means that the company dumps chemicals directly into Seneca Lake, which is a source of drinking water for 100,000 people.
It is my belief that paying trivial fines does not excuse the crime of salting the lake. And it’s because I have such a high respect for the rule of law that I will be choosing not to pay a fine for my act of trespassing and will instead will show responsibility by accepting a jail sentence.
Second, I seek by my actions to shine a spotlight on the dangerous practice of converting abandoned salt caverns into storage containers for highly pressurized hydrocarbon gases, namely propane and butane. Legal or not, this practice is tantamount to burying giant cigarette lighters in the earth.
This form of liquefied petroleum gas storage has a troubled safety record. Leaks, explosions, and collapses have occurred in at least ten other places. Additionally, the fleets of diesel trucks and the planned 60 ft. high flare stack—even absent calamitous accidents—will add hazardous air pollutants to our communities. Thus, my small, non-violent act of trespass is set against a larger, more violent one: the trespass of hazardous chemicals into water and air and thereby into our bodies. This is a form of toxic trespass.
Lastly, I desire to bring attention to the rapid build-out of fracking infrastructure in New York. Even as we are engaged in a statewide conversation about whether our governor should maintain or lift the current moratorium on shale gas extraction via horizontal fracking in New York, technology that further entrenches our dependency on shale gas—pipelines, storage, compressor stations, processing plants—is being rapidly deployed. These infrastructure investments make fracking in New York State more likely and aid and abet fracking in other states, where it is associated with sickness and misery among people causes devastation to land, water, and air quality.
In a time of climate emergency, the transformation of the Finger Lakes into a massive transportation and storage hub for climate-destroying fossil fuel gases that have been fracked out shale in other states is the absolute wrong form of development.
I am a biologist, not a lawyer. But when I looked up my crime on Wikipedia, here is what it said:
Trespass to land involves the wrongful interference with one’s possessory rights in [real] property. William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England articulated the common law principle… translating from Latin as “for whoever owns the soil, it is theirs up to Heaven and down to Hell.” In modern times, courts have limited the right of absolute dominion over the subsurface. For instance, drilling a directional well that bottoms out beneath another’s property to access oil and gas reserves is trespass, but a subsurface invasion by hydraulic fracturing is not [emphasis added].
In other words, trespassing laws are unjust. They make a criminals of people who stand on a lakeshore purchased by an out-of-state fossil fuel company only interested in the hollowed out salt chambers that lie 1500 feet beneath the surface, while, at the same time, allowing drilling and fracking operations to tunnel freely under homes, farms, and aquifers, shatter our bedrock, and pump the shards full of toxic chemicals.
I broke the law by standing in a privately owned driveway. Fossil fuel companies are not breaking the law by trespassing into the atmosphere with heat-trapping gases and so creating planetary crisis. There are the disparities that I seek to communicate with my actions and, out of respect for the fidelity of law, with my willingness to accept a jail sentence rather than pay a fine.
As a working mother of two school-aged children, this is a decision I have reached after much discernment.
See: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/04/18-7 for more details.
Sandra has requested that all of her supporters write letters to the editor on this issue, rather than make attempts to have her released from jail.
February 24, 2013
Sign a New Coalition Letter to Prevent DOH's Bogus Fracking Review From Being Completed Within a "few weeks."
A Message from Walter Hang
Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013
Please sign this SUPER IMPORTANT NEW COALITION LETTER by clicking here:
I write to implore you to become a signatory to a new coalition letter that aims to prevent Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah from completing a bogus Review of the Public Health Impact of High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing within a "few weeks."
The letter requests that formal public participation and major revisions for the DOH Review be adopted. As I will explain below, those essential goals must be achieved without delay or New York's shale gas fracking moratorium could end extraordinarily soon.
Please sign the letter by clicking here: http://www.toxicstargeting.com/MarcellusShale/letters/2013/02/24/public-doh-review
DEC's Revised Shale Gas Rulemaking Proceeding Failed Because Neither the DOH Review Nor a Final SGEIS Could be Completed by the Deadline
I alerted you earlier that Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah wrote on 2/12/13 to inform DEC Commissioner Joe Martens that the DOH Review of HVHF could not be finished in time to adopt a Final SGEIS (Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement) and complete DEC's shale gas Revised Rulemaking proceeding by a drop-dead deadline of 2/27/13.
Dr. Shah stated: "I anticipate delivering the completed Public Health Review to you [Martens] within a few weeks (emphasis added), along with my recommendations."
Joe Martens stated that DEC could adopt a Final SGEIS after the DOH Review is completed if Shah raises no objections.
Shale gas extraction permits could be issued ten days later. More than 50 permit applications are in the pipeline.
See Dr. Shah's letter to DEC Commissioner Martens: http://www.toxicstargeting.com/MarcellusShale/documents/letters/2013/02/12/shah-letter-to-martens
See Commissioner Marten's statement: http://www.toxicstargeting.com/MarcellusShale/documents/letters/2013/02/12/martens-statement
Governor Cuomo Stubbornly Refuses to Require Public Participation for DOH Review
It is imperative to understand that the Cuomo Administration did not voluntarily end DEC's shale gas Revised Rulemaking Proceeding, halt the DOH Review or withdraw the draft SGEIS to address its shortcomings as more than 25,000 signatories to various coalition letters requested. Our campaign efforts since last November simply made completion of the DOH Review impossible.
Governor Cuomo refuses to require public notice regarding the intent of the DOH Review or how it is being undertaken. He has not required any opportunity for public review or comment. He will not hold even one public hearing to receive testimony about how DOH should conduct its Public Health Impact Review.
In short, the Governor has not yet responded favorably to three major coalition letters which request that the DOH Review be put on-hold pending fulfillment of formal public participation requirements. It is crucial to keep cranking up the heat until he makes the DOH Review "open and transparent."
If this cannot be achieved, shale gas fracking could begin depressingly shortly.
New Coalition Letter Requests That Major Revisions to DOH Review Be Adopted
The new coalition letter requests that major revisions to the DOH Review be adopted by asking that it include a detailed analysis of all the gas/oil extraction incidents that DEC refused to include in earlier drafts of the SGEIS. Hundreds of those incidents are documented in an Appendix.
The coalition letter also requests that the DOH Review not be completed pending review of the final results of three investigations that Dr. Shah referenced in his letter to Commissioner Martens. Dr. Shah called them "...the first comprehensive studies of HVHF health impacts at either the state or federal level." The letter states: We believe "prudence dictates (emphasis added)" that the DOH Review must assess the final results of these "first comprehensive studies (emphasis added)."
Our backs remain against the proverbial wall.
BEAT THE BUSHES FOR SIGNATORIES.
PUSH HARDER THAN EVER. NO LET UP. WE ARE NOT OUT OF THE WOODS YET.
Thanks so much for your help.
August 8, 2012
URGENT ACTION ALERT
FOR ALL SOUTHERN TIER RESIDENTS
AND NEW YORKERS AT LARGE
Governor Cuomo wants to allow fracking to take place in BROOME, TIOGA, STEUBEN, CHEMUNG AND CHENANGO Counties, even though he has said it is too dangerous to risk the contamination of the water for New York City, Syracuse, the Finger Lakes and more than 200 towns that have enacted bans or moratorium to prevent fracking in their towns. Allowing this to occur in our community is referred to as “THE DEMONSTRATION PROJECT”. SCIENTISTS FIRMLY STATE THAT ALL GAS WELL CASINGS WILL FAIL BY THE NATURE OF THE MATERIALS FROM WHICH THEY ARE MADE. MORE THAN 6% FAIL AT THE TIME OF INSTALLATION; 100% WILL FAIL OVER TIME, allowing toxic chemicals and gas to migrate into ground water. States such as Pennsylvania, Wyoming, Colorado, Texas, West Virginia, etc., ARE OUR DEMONSTRATION PROJECT already. Their water, health, property values, and quality of life have been severely negatively affected. DON’T LET IT HAPPEN HERE TO US.
Here are 3 quick, but critical things that you should do NOW with your cell phone, to make sure we are not the next victims of the untrustworthy gas industry:
· Call GOVERNOR CUOMO’S OFFICE NOW: (518) 474-8390. Tell him that you “are requesting that there be NO DEMONSTRATION PROJECT IN THE SOUTHERN TIER OR ANYWHERE ELSE. IF IT IS NOT SAFE TO DRILL IN THE NYC AND OTHER WATER SHEDS, IT IS SURELY NOT SAFE TO DRILL ANYWHERE ELSE.”
· Send GOVERNOR CUOMO an email stating the message above, using the link: http://www.governor.ny.gov/contact/GovernorContactForm.php
· Sign the critical coalition letter to tell Governor Cuomo to protect the Southern Tier, at:
May 18, 2012
Greetings to all citizens who care about the quality of life in New York:
We have made great progress in halting the expansion of Fracking into New York State, but there is still a long way to go. There is currently a discussion among decision makers in Albany about allowing the Southern Tier of New York to be a "Demonstration Project" for fracking - i.e. an experiment to see how it goes. I don't know about you, but I don't want our beautiful home to be a science experiment for the gas companies to make a few billion dollars while the rest of the state watches. We need to tell Governor Cuomo that the Southern Tier of New York DOES NOT WANT fracking - and that we do NOT want to be a "Demonstration Project."
We urge you to immediately sign the coalition letter described below and to encourage family and friends to do the same. Even if you have already signed previous letters, we need your signature on this one TODAY - it only takes a minute and could be the difference between fracking and no-fracking in New York.
Please contact us with any questions about this - we need to generate as many signatures as possible right away because the decisions are being made NOW in Albany.
Thank you for your support,
Benjamin and Elaine Perkus
New York Residents Against Drilling
Heads Up!!! This is an urgent call to action.
You can help: 1) block a possible Southern Tier Horizontal Hydraulic Fracturing "Demonstration Project" and 2) require Governor Cuomo to fulfill the truly onerous requirements of Executive Order No. 41.
PLEASE SIGN THIS NEW COALITION LETTER: http://toxicstargeting.com/MarcellusShale/cuomo/coalition_letter/2012/demo-order-41
Excerpt from a letter from Walter Hang, www.toxicstargeting.com:
Bad Compromise Deals Alert
I recently reported that Governor Cuomo has been unable to render a "final decision" to permit horizontal hydraulic fracturing despite his February 8th promise to do that "in a couple of months."
It is also now apparent that no "statewide ban," "moratorium," "home-rule" or any other anti-fracking bills are likely to be enacted this legislative session.
Pressure on Governor Cuomo continues to build regarding the fate of Marcellus Shale gas extraction in New York. That is why we must make absolutely sure that no wretchedly bad compromise deals are struck to provide political cover for the powers-that-be.
Some environmental groups are reportedly discussing potentially allowing limited shale gas fracking in Broome, Tioga and Chemung counties. Those are the main areas where shale gas extraction has been proposed in New York.
See one national environmental group's "demonstration project" comments to DEC: http://toxicstargeting.com/sites/default/files/pdfs/ene_12011201a-p8-9.pdf
Sign This NEW Coalition letter
Please join me in signing a Coalition Letter to Governor Cuomo which requests that he withhold permitting for any horizontal hydraulic fracturing "demonstration project" in the Southern Tier or anywhere else in New York.
The coalition letter also requests that Governor Cuomo fulfill the mandates of Executive Order No. 41 without further delay. I urge you to read those mandates. They are extraordinarily powerful.
SIGN THE NEW COALITION LETTER TODAY!!!. GET MORE SIGNATORIES: http://toxicstargeting.com/MarcellusShale/cuomo/coalition_letter/2012/demo-order-41
Assemblywoman Lifton's Legislator Sign-On Letter Now has More Than 60 Signatories
I am immensely pleased to report that Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton's Sign-On letter to Governor Cuomo regarding six critical shale gas concerns now has more than 60 Legislator signatories, including Assembly as well as State Senate reps as well as Democrats and Republicans.
That is super heavy-lifting. Thank you for all the calls you made. Keep them coming.
PLEASE NOTE: THIS SIGN-ON LETTER IS ONLY FOR LEGISLATORS.
Read the sign-on letter: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/77076301/BarbaraLiftonLetter.pdf
Contact your Legislators: http://www.nysenate.gov/senators and http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/
Please call to thank Assemblywoman Lifton for her heroic efforts: Ithaca office: 607 277 8030; Albany office: 518 455 5444.
Hydraulic Fracturing Panel Pledge
In shocking contrast, not one environmental group on DEC's Hydraulic Fracturing Panel has signed either the Maintain the Fracturing Moratorium Pledge or the Withdraw the Revised Draft SGEIS Coalition Letter. That speaks volumes about one group's claim that it "stands with the grassroots..."
See the Pledge and the Coalition Letter, respectively: http://www.toxicstargeting.com/MarcellusShale/alerts/2012/02/02/advisory-panel and http://www.toxicstargeting.com/MarcellusShale/cuomo/coalition_letter/2011
Keep hammering away with emails and calls. More than 2,000 entreaties have been made. You cannot imagine what a powerful impact you are having.
NRDC/Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
I recently spoke with Frances Beinecke, President of Natural Resources Defense Council. She told me that NRDC was "not in a position" to sign the Fracking Moratorium Pledge or the Withdraw the SGEIS Coalition Letter.
I invite you to read what I wrote back to her: http://www.toxicstargeting.com/MarcellusShale/documents/letters/2012/05/06/nrdc
Various activists and I recently met with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who I have worked with before. I presented him with a copy of the Fracking Moratorium Pledge. He read it and said "I do not see any reason why I wouldn't sign it," but he wanted to show it to his colleague, Kate Hudson, who did not attend the meeting.
Last week, I had an informative conversation with Bobby and Kate. They promised to get back to me shortly about signing the Fracking Moratorium Pledge.
In conclusion, all the efforts I am asking you to make can require Governor Cuomo to resolve all the shortcomings of the Revised Draft SGEIS before lifting New York's horizontal hydraulic fracturing moratorium. That would require achievements unprecedented in our nation's history of inadequate regulation of extraction mining.
Our state's shale fracking moratorium has been in effect for nearly four years despite seemingly insurmountable efforts to rescind it. It is imperative to maintain the fracking moratorium. I implore you to focus intently on that immediate task.
On a final note, killing a possible Southern Tier fracking "demonstration project" is also important because hundreds of wells in northern PA cannot convey their gas to market due to a 30-mile infrastructure gap between the PA border and the Millennium Pipeline that runs through Chemung, Tioga and Broome counties all the way down to Rockland County. A "demonstration project" could bridge that gap. See: http://www.millenniumpipeline.com/about.html
Keep pushing. No excuses.
Thanks so much for your help.
March 13, 2012
CRITICAL ACTION ALERT
It was early February when Gov. Cuomo said that a decision about whether to frack for shale gas in NY would be made in "a couple months."
TIME IS GROWING VERY SHORT.
It is critical to contact the governor NOW and tell him your concerns about shale gas extraction.
If you are convinced there should be a BAN on fracking for shale gas, please tell Gov. Cuomo.
If you think we need a MORATORIUM while more study takes place, tell him that.
If you think we need a HEALTH STUDY before any decision is made, tell him that.
If you think we need a study of the CUMULATIVE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS of drilling tens of thousands of shale gas wells in NY, tell him that.
If you are worried about ADVERSE ECONOMIC IMPACTS--like devaluation of residential property, damage to farming, damage to tourism, etc., tell him that.
If you are concerned about the recent reports of CONTAMINATION in yet another area (Franklin Township in Susquehanna County, PA (see below)), tell him that.
Please urge everyone you know to contact the governor EVERY DAY.
Every phone call makes a difference.
The more calls and emails he gets, the better.
Here is Governor Cuomo's contact information:
The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224
Here are some links where you can find more info on the Franklin
Township water well contamination:
PUT UP A SIGN!
We have both of these yard signs available NOW.
Call (607) 798-0787 or write to firstname.lastname@example.org to get one for YOUR yard.
Let your neighbors know that YOU care.
Tell us where you are located - signs are too large to be mailed.
$5 donation per sign requested so that we can buy more.
Your help is much appreciated.
NYRAD EMERGENCY ACTION ALERT
Feb. 20, 2012:
TAKE ACTION NOW
KILL the Revised Draft SGEIS
Hello to all NYRADians and friends of NYRAD,
In the next few weeks, Governor Cuomo will be deciding whether or not to allow fracking in New York. The NY DEC (New York Department of Environmental Conservation) has been holding Public Hearings to review environmental impacts and regulations for fracking NY. Binghamton is considered ground zero for fracking in New York. It is critical to demonstrate that the Southern Tier is strongly opposed to shale gas extraction, particularly fracking. Governor Cuomo will use public response to gauge the level of opposition and the political consequences of fracking, so we are calling on all friends and neighbors across the state to tell the DEC and the Governor that WE DON'T WANT FRACKING in New York because it is NOT SAFE.
The governor has listened to the gas industry. Now he needs to listen to us. The time has come to show that we the people stand strong in our resolve; we are more important and more powerful than the gas industry's money.
Call Elaine for more info: 648-4959 or write to: email@example.com
To see a hair-raising and credible account of how DEC regulations have not protected New Yorkers that recently appeared on the front page of the Ithaca Journal, go to http://www.toxicstargeting.com/MarcellusShale
To sign a CRITICAL LETTER Demanding that the Fatally Flawed SGEIS be Withdrawn, go to:
Please support our efforts. Donate here .
~from all the folks at NYRAD.org
Petition: Ban Natural Gas Drilling in NY State
Sign the petition here:
Here is the text of the petition:
To: Governor Paterson, DEC Commissioner Grannis, State Senate & State Assembly, DEC dSGEIS Comments
We the undersigned CALL FOR A BAN ON GAS DRILLING IN LOW-PERMEABLE STONE DEPOSITS IN NEW YORK STATE
1. With a failure rate of between 2 to 8 percent, horizontal drilling and hydrofracking pose an unacceptable risk to our drinking water and the quality of groundwater, aquifers, lakes and streams
2. Drilling will introduce over 250 chemicals into our air and water, placing local residents, wildlife, and critical agriculture and watershed areas at risk
3. Communities where hydrofracking has occurred have experienced explosions, fires, spills, stream contamination, and well pollution as well as degradation of aquifers and other water supplies
4. Local emergency services, including volunteer fire departments, EMS units, and healthcare providers, will beseverely stressed and placed at considerable risk from accidents
5. Gas drilling in NYS will involve construction of a massive infrastructure of wellheads, pipelines, compressing stations, and processing centers spread across much of rural upstate NY
6. Infrastructure development will involve extensive clearcutting, 24-hour noise and light pollution, huge increases of truck traffic, and the permanent altering of existing landscapes
7. Industrialization is incompatible with agriculture, tourism, recreation; drilling and related development will significantly alter existing use patterns of rural areas
8. Compulsory integration of neighboring landowners to allow gas extraction against their wishes is an unlawful seizure of land and an unconstitutional abuse of power
9. Extensive drilling will undermine property values and increase tax burdens on local citizens, creating boom and bust economic cycles in local communities
10. NYC's Dept. of Environmental Protection has concluded that hydrofracking is too dangerous for the city's Catskill/Delaware watershed
11. NYS DEC's draft Environmental Impact Statement (dSGEIS) is fatally flawed in its open support of drilling, its minimization and dismissal of risks, and its failure to consider the total cost of drilling
12. NYS DEC is seriously understaffed and underfunded, and is in no position to regulate and effectively monitor drilling in NYS, and
13. Natural gas is not "clean energy" but rather just another polluting, non-renewable fossil fuel contributing to global warming
We call on you to put the people first and protect our health, environment, communities, and future by banning horizontal drilling and hydrofracking to release gas from low-permeable stone formations in New York State.
Sign the Coalition Letter to Governor Cuomo
Coalition Letter to Governor Cuomo Regarding Executive Order No. 41:
Requiring Further Environmental Review of High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing Combined With Horizontal Drilling
January 5, 2011
Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor, State of New York
Albany, NY 12224
Dear Governor Cuomo:
We, the undersigned, strongly support safeguarding the environment, public health and natural resources of the Catskills, Finger Lakes and Southern Tier regions that overlay New York’s Marcellus Shale formation, potentially the largest natural gas reservoir in America. That is why we write to thank you for your “continuation” of Executive Order No. 41: Requiring Further Environmental Review of High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing Combined With Horizontal Drilling.
That order requires your Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to:
“complete its review of the public comments, make such revisions to the Draft SGEIS that are necessary to analyze comprehensively the environmental impacts associated with high-volume hydraulic fracturing combined with horizontal drilling, ensure that such impacts are appropriately avoided or mitigated consistent with the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA), other provisions of the Environmental Conservation Law and other laws, and ensures (stet) that adequate regulatory measures are identified to protect public health and the environment;”
More than 10,000 citizens, elected officials, business owners, environmental groups and students are signatories to a letter that requested Governor Paterson to withdraw the draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (draft SGEIS) due to its fundamental inadequacies and send it back to the drawing board. We are very grateful that Executive Order No. 41 requires DEC to address those shortcomings “comprehensively” before lifting New York’s de facto Marcellus Shale horizontal hydrofracking moratorium.
A 12/13/10 article in The New York Times underscores the flaws of the draft SGEIS proceeding. Then Acting DEC Commissioner, Peter Iwanowicz, reportedly said: “many of the comments have criticized the proposed standards for failing to adequately address issues like the cumulative impact of multiple drill sites, disposal of wastewater from the drilling and the protection of drinking water.”
DEC deliberately excluded a broad range of critical issues from the scope of the SGEIS proceeding by ignoring extensive testimony at its scoping hearings. Moreover, a great deal of new information has become available since the scoping process ended. Against that background and in order to fulfill the goals of Executive Order No. 41, we respectfully request that you require DEC to:
A) Convene a Citizens Advisory Committee as well as a separate Technical Advisory Committee to guide the agency in its decision-making. At a minimum, these committees should be comprised of representatives from: 1) local, state and federal government agencies involved with regulating Marcellus Shale gas matters; 2) local governments, the State Legislature and Congress; 3) the natural gas industry; 4) property owners who leased their mineral rights; 5) civic, environmental, public interest and good government groups; 6) concerned citizens; and 7) academic researchers.
B) Provide public notice and accept comments for no less than 30 days regarding how the agency can best fulfill the requirements of Executive Order No. 41; respond in writing to all comments before beginning the process of revising the draft SGEIS; and afford the public regular, on-going opportunities for participation and comment.
C) Adopt the following proposed policies:
1. Discharges of natural gas flowback, drilling and production wastewaters must meet New York State’s GA (groundwater that supplies potable drinking water) effluent limitations when discharged into ground and surface waters or public and private treatment plants or re-used for hydraulic fracturing or injected into underground disposal wells. Natural gas wastewaters have been documented to contain high concentrations of Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), toxic chemicals and Technology Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (TENORM). These persistent pollutants can contaminate groundwaters, “pass through” “secondary” wastewater treatment systems, concentrate in residual sludges and cause worker hazards.
2. Marcellus Shale horizontal hydrofracturing must be regulated by Individual EIS proceedings instead of a Generic EIS. DEC proposed to require individual EIS reviews for the New York City and Syracuse watersheds, but not for the rest of the Marcellus Shale formation. Moreover, according to the draft SGEIS, “Flowback water recoveries reported from horizontal Marcellus wells in the northern tier of Pennsylvania range between 9 and 35 percent of the fracturing fluid pumped (emphasis added)” (Page 5-97.) Those meager recovery rates support the conclusion that horizontal hydrofracturing constitutes deep well injection of fluids that could threaten drinking water supply sources. DEC requires State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) permits for deep well injection of natural gas fluid. Those permits can only be granted on the basis of site-specific, individual EIS reviews.
3. An investigation must be undertaken to determine whether the 1992 GEIS is sufficient to safeguard public health and if “No known instances of groundwater contamination have occurred from previous horizontal drilling or hydraulic fracturing projects in New York State.” (See: DEC Marcellus Shale homepage.)
DEC concluded in its Final SGEIS Scope: “In the absence of a pattern of incidents that indicates a regulatory weakness or gap, the occurrence of isolated accidents or violations do not of themselves constitute reason to re-open the GEIS.” (See 8.3.2)
DEC’s assertion is directly contradicted by hundreds of spills reported to the agency as well as additional information compiled by Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany County Health Departments. Those data were not provided to DEC during its scoping hearings.
DEC’s investigation must include a review of the following information:
* On November 9, 2009, detailed DEC spill information was released for public review that identified more than 270 incidents involving drill rig fires, explosions, homes evacuated due to gas drilling hazards, polluted water supply wells, gas drilling wastewater spills and various other oil/gas releases that had not been cleaned up. Many of those problems have exceeded remediation requirements for decades.
* On April 5, 2010, extensive information was released documenting widespread natural gas impacts reported by the aforementioned health departments pursuant to a Memorandum of Understanding with DEC. Dozens of these problems were reported prior to the adoption of the GEIS in 1992 and have not been cleaned up.
* Documents and a video also were released regarding a gas development firm that reportedly impacted a home in Andover, NY and offered to compensate the homeowner.
See: http://www.toxicstargeting.com/MarcellusShale/documents/allegany_us_ener... and http://www.toxicstargeting.com/MarcellusShale/videos/andover_independenc...
4. DEC’s GEIS must be updated on a comprehensive basis. The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency wrote to DEC that its 1992 GEIS is out-of-date in so many respects that it should not serve as the basis for developing new horizontal hydrofracturing regulations. DEC must revise the GEIS to address all of the regulatory shortcomings identified by EPA, including: potential impacts to public health, water supply, water quality, wastewater treatment operations, local and regional air quality, management of naturally occurring radioactive materials and cumulative environmental impacts.
In conclusion, Executive Order No. 41 is an historic effort to require DEC to make sure that the environmental impacts associated with Marcellus Shale horizontal hydrofracturing are “appropriately avoided or mitigated” prior to the permitting of that activity. The actions we respectfully request you to undertake would help achieve that goal and serve as a model of effective government regulation for the nation as a whole.
Thank you very much for your consideration. Best of luck with your administration.
Very truly yours,
Click here to sign the letter.
Petition: Ask the DEC to WITHDRAW the Draft dSGEIS
Sign the coalition letter: http://www.toxicstargeting.com/MarcellusShale/coalition_letter
You can search the list of signatories if you aren't sure if you have signed it yet.
From Walter Hang of Toxics Targeting: "I write today because your help is needed more than ever to safeguard New York from natural gas drilling hazards.
I implore you to redouble your efforts to withdraw the Marcellus Shale draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS). We are very close to achieving that goal. One more big push might do it.
All else pales in importance to withdrawing the draft SGEIS and starting that regulatory process over again. Killing the draft SGEIS is paramount. So long as we prevent an SGEIS from being adopted, New York's de facto moratorium on Marcellus Shale horizontal hydrofracking continues.
If the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) adopts its draft SGEIS, Marcellus Shale horizontal hydrofracking drilling permits will be issued. Given DEC's severe regulatory inadequacies, irreparable pollution problems will likely result.
Nearly 10,000 concerned citizens, elected officials, businesses as well as local, state and national environmental groups have signed our coalition letter requesting withdrawal of the draft SGEIS. I believe that strategy offers the best defense against Marcellus Shale horizontal hydrofracking threats in New York.
Since November, our efforts have achieved historic results. Down the homestretch of the draft SGEIS comment period, Governor Paterson reportedly received hundreds of calls and emails each day requesting the draft SGEIS to be withdrawn. Judith Enck, Region 2 EPA Administrator, got so many calls urging a tougher stand on the draft SGEIS that EPA's phone system crashed. An incredibly hard-hitting EPA letter resulted. Resolutions requesting withdrawal of the draft SGEIS also were passed across New York. We now need to focus on DEC Commissioner Grannis. He is the key decision-maker we must persuade.
Additional Natural Gas Hazards Documented: I just released extensive county health department data documenting water wells contaminated with brine, homes evacuated due to methane intrusion and ignitable water. That information received widespread newspaper, TV and radio coverage as well as critical editorial support. See my letter to DEC Commissioner Grannis and the data at: http://www.toxicstargeting.com/MarcellusShale/dec_letter These findings strengthen our argument that the draft SGEIS must be withdrawn. We must drive that point home full-force.
Take Immediate Action Today: We need more signatories to the coalition letter. We are very close to reaching our goal of 10,000 signatories and exceed pro-drilling petition signatories by more than 2:1. Contact everyone you know who has not signed. Beat the bushes.
Click here to sign the letter.