I write to bring you up to date regarding several important Marcellus Shale gas developments.
First and foremost, Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton is circulating a letter to her colleagues in the Assembly and State Senate requesting that Governor Cuomo take two critical actions regarding Executive Order No. 41: a) requiring at least a 30-day public comment period NOW regarding how DEC should go about revising the DRAFT Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement; and b) expanding the scope of the SGEIS to include many environmental and public health issues excluded from the original scope of the proceeding.
Activists visiting their legislators should present a copy of the letter and ask them to become signatories. If you receive a favorable reply, simply ask your legislators to contact Assemblywoman Lifton's office.
Toxics Targeting is not lobbying any bills because it is exceedingly unlikely that any meaningful Marcellus Shale legislation will be enacted this session due to the State Senate's strong support for horizontal hydrofracturing. Assemblywoman Lifton's letter helps Legislators make sure that Governor Cuomo fulfills the requirements of the Executive Order. We strongly support her effort.
Her self-explanatory letter is posted at: http://www.toxicstargeting.com/node/5826
Gas Drilling Wastewater Concerns
I wrote to Governor Cuomo last week regarding approximately 20 million gallons of natural gas drilling wastewater sent to local wastewater treatment plants in the Finger Lakes, including Auburn, Canandaigua and Cayuga Heights. These facilities are neither designed, constructed nor maintained to treat the high Total Dissolved Solids, toxic chemicals and radionuclides documented to be present in natural gas drilling wastewater. Auburn recently cited six natural gas firms for "Significant Non-Compliance with Auburn Sewer Use Law."
I requested that the Governor halt all further discharges of natural gas drilling wastewater to public treatment plants in New York pending adoption of extremely stringent proposals formulated by EPA. I believe this issue is the Achilles heel of horizontal hydrofracturing in our state.
Another Urbina NYT Article
An article by Ian Urbina in Thursday's NYT reports further testing will be required in PA regarding treatment plants that accept natural gas drilling wastewater. As you will see, there is increased concern about radionuclides concentrating in treatment plant sludges. See: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/08/science/earth/08water.html?partner=rss...
Cornell Law School Symposium
I and many other activists attended a shale gas symposium last week at Cornell Law School along with representatives of the natural gas industry and former Executive Deputy DEC Commissioner Stewart Gruskin, my former NYPIRG colleague and friend of nearly 30 years.
The gas industry reps were in full denial mode regarding any environmental and public health problems associated with gas drilling activities in New York. Once they took that position three years ago, they became locked into a political and public policy position that has proven highly susceptible to challenge using government data. As a result, they are being crushed by the weight of new data brought to light by the NYT, local governments and others. Their anger was palpable and highly unusual for academic events, which are typically collegial.
I urge all activists to use every opportunity to refer to the NYT series as well as the documented gas drilling fires, explosions, polluted water supply wells and wastewater hazards that have yet to be cleaned up decades after being reported to DEC. See: http://www.toxicstargeting.com/MarcellusShale/documents_and_data
De Facto Moratorium
I was thrilled to hear Stewart Gruskin eloquently explain how DEC deliberately adopted a policy that no Marcellus Shale horizontal hydfracturing permits would be granted in New York until a Supplemental GEIS was put in place to safeguard the environment and public health. Most activists have no idea how much courage and determination went into that de facto moratorium decision, but I do.
Stewart Gruskin, former DEC Deputy Commissioner Val Washington, former DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis as well as Governor Paterson's former environmental adviser and current EPA Region 2 Administrator, Judith Enck, all deserve our thanks. Were it not for them holding the line against intense pressure from the Governor's office, New York likely would have suffered the same widespread horizontal hydrofracking pollution problems as Pennsylvania. I made that point in my symposium presentation.
Stewart later mentioned to me that he was a member of the NYPIRG board of directors that approved its door-to-door canvassing program more than 25 years ago, a grassroots activism effort of enormous importance. I immediately thought how the arc of that decision ultimately led to Ashley Bruno becoming a NYPIRG canvasser. She is the young activist who recently led the "No Fracking Way" chant in the Capitol for more than an hour along with her Capital District Against Fracking colleagues: Daniel Morrissey, Jennifer Kotary and Siobhan Burke.
I could not resist posting a photo of Stewart as a student activist along with Tom Novick, a former NYPIRG board chair who later served as a Legislative Assembly Representative in Oregon, and me. I also provide a current photo of Stewart so you can thank him if you see him: http://www.toxicstargeting.com/node/5806 How time flies.
In conclusion, Governor Cuomo remains our target. I implore you to stay focused. The bottom line is that there will be no horizontal hydrofracking in New York's Marcellus and other tight shales until a Final SGEIS is adopted. With your continued efforts, that document might not be adopted for many years to come.
Finally, we are approaching 5,000 signatories to the extremely detailed coalition letter to Governor Cuomo regarding Executive Order No. 41. Thanks for beating the bushes for signatories. Keep slugging.
Please try to scare up more signatories to the Governor Cuomo coaltion letter, particularly groups and elected officials. We are getting close to 5,000 signatories. Beat the bushes. See: http://www.toxicstargeting.com/MarcellusShale/cuomo/coalition_letter
Call and email Governor Andrew Cuomo, EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck, DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Ask them to support:
Please bcc: firstname.lastname@example.org