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Local Environmental Firm Wants S-GEIS Withdrawn

09/26/12

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BINGHAMTON -- Quick reaction to a study concluding that Pennsylvania hasn't adequately monitored or enforced regulations involving natural gas wells. The study, by Washington-based Earthworks reports that more than 66,000 wells were left uninspected last year. Many companies who committed violations haven't been fined. Environmentalist Walter Hang says the findings in Pennsylvania reflect concerns he's uncovered with New York's Department of Environmental Conservation.

Hang, President of Toxics Targeting, Inc. doesn't believe the DEC's repeated assurances that the agency's regulations are adequate. Downtown today, he presented his findings of areas he says are clearly impacted negatively by natural gas drilling.

"The truth of the matter is, they've self documented an enormous array of problems that are not addressed by the revised draft S-GEIS," said Hang.

He says his findings are the result of his review of 25 years of reports and calls the results shocking including documentation of crude oil present in drinking water and deliberate oil dumping into ponds and lagoons.

He says these findings contradict the DEC's public statement: "As a result of New York's rigorous regulatory process, the types of problems reported to have occurred in states without such strong environmental laws and rigorous regulations haven't happened here."

"By uncovering this information, that appears to be a total fabrication," said Mayor of Binghamton, Matt Ryan.

"This is a breach of public trust," said Hang. I think what we're basically seeing is a conspiracy of silence that none of this information has been brought to the public's attention."

Hang says this conspiracy calls for a change in the way the DEC operates.

"I do not think we can trust the DEC," said Hang. "I think we need to clean house. I think we have to start all over again with a new Generic Environmental Impact Statement."

Both Hang and Ryan say that in addition to withdrawing the S-GEIS, New York is not well enough equipped to allow drilling.

"There is not a single waste water treatment plant any where in New York to handle this material," Hang said.

"We cannot play this game, we're not ready, we have to go back to the drawing board," said Ryan. "Governor Cuomo, do what you said you were going to do, protect the health and safety of everybody in this state."

Hang's next step is an appeal to the governor.

"We're going to be pushing very very hard to persuade Governor Cuomo to withdraw the revised draft S-GEIS and send it back to the drawing board," he said.

Hang says the letter asking Governor Cuomo to withdraw the S-GEIS already has over 22,000 signatures.

Pro-fracking groups in the Southern Tier have long argued that New York's regulations would be much tighter than Pennsylvania's reducing the likelihood that fracking in the area would not be properly monitored.

In Binghamton, Jeremy Donovan, Fox 40 HD News.