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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
The Capitol
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:

  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,

Total Signatory Count: 5254

Lois Gaudinier
2301A Coddington Road
Brooktondale, NY
Mary Elizabeth Brady
312 Main Street
White Plains, New York
Rosalind Feinstein
206 Hanshaw Road
Ithaca, NY
Kim Feil
OLs Town Neighborhoo Association
409 N Elm
Arlington, TX
John Stuhr
PO Box 771
Rock Stream, NY
Joseph Bistrovich
4699 Country Club Dr.
Syracuse, NY
Leaf Turner
85 Autumn Ridge Circle
Ithaca, NY
Bonnie Logan
3199 Grenell Road
Middle Grove, NY
Ruby Turner
85 Autumn Ridge Circle
Ithaca, NY
Sharon Ziegler
805 no. Cayuga St
Ithaca, New York
Deborah Wells
615 Lisle Rd
Owego, NY
Mark Wienand
5664 culver rd
Alpine, NY
Leslie Allee
14 Dug Road
Lansing, NY
Douglas Robinson
326 Mitchell St.
Ithaca, NY
Mary Sweeney
51 Chestnut St.
Windsor, NY
Mary Jo Lovelace
2504 State Route 79
Trumansburg, New York
Karen Streck
2 Fernleigh Dr.
Cooperstown, NY
Pamela Goddard
Danby Gas Drilling Task Force
605 West King Road
Ithaca, New York
Richard Levine
185 Prospect Park SW, apt 701
Brooklyn, NY
Traci Swab
816 Hanshaw Rd.
Ithaca, NY
Amalia de la Torre
491 Beaver Meadow Road
Cooperstown, NY
Dannielle Swart
113 Katherine Lane
Vestal, New York
Howard Siegel
92 Van Cortlandt Park South
Bronx, NY
Melody Johnson
112 Mt Pleasant Rd
Ithaca, NY
Mitchell Lavine
719 Ringwood Rd
Ithaca, NY
Alice Artzt
51 Hawthorne Ave.
Princeton, NJ
John Trallo
Responsible Drilling Alliance (RDA)
47 Main Street
Sonestown, PA
Drew Harvell
3 sunny knoll rd
ithaca, NY
Aimee Mitchell
75 Golf Course Rd.
Deposit, New York
Ken Deschere
Ithaca South Hill Industrial Pollution
202 South Hill Terrace
Ithaca, NY
Donna Mummery
67 Village Trail
Honeoye Falls, New York
Kathleen Livingston
33 Wheeler St
Deposit, New York
Betsy Bonsignore
1 East Pulteney Street
Corning, NY
Lyn Gerry
Watkins Glen Farmers Market
212 N. Jackson St.
Watkins Glen, NY
Joan Ormondroyd
5258 Curry Road
Trumansburg, NY
Thomas Collier
927 Henry Edwards Rd.
Franklin, New York
Pat Dutt
135 Westhaven Rd
Ithaca, NY
Donald Allen
113 Eastwood Drive
Johnson City, NY
Jonathan Zisk
116 Durfee Hill Rd
Ithaca/Danby, NY
Margaret Maugenest
Friends and Residents of the Greater Gowanus
280 Nevins Street
Brooklyn, NY
Gerrit Crouse, PhD
American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS)
38 4th Avenue, Apt 2-N
Nyack, NY
Mary A Thuma
PO Box 613 120 Pleasant Meadow Rd
Cooperstown, NY
Andi Gladstone
1042 Comfort Road
Spencer, NY
Julie Carpenter
314 Wood Street
Ithaca, NY
Kim Jastremski
316 Cty Hwy 52
Cooperstown, NY
Starke Donnally
Westcott East Neighborhood Association
141 Clarke Street
Syracuse, New York
Joan Dwyer
399 Beaver Meadow Road
Cooperstown, NY
Karen Rigatti
71 Rotary Avenue
Binghamton, New York
John S. Mead
resident of NY state
219 West Lincoln Str.
Ithaca, New York
Gregory Sullivan
60 W. 85 ST.
New York, NY
Caroline Martin
102 Mink Brook Road
Downsville, NY
Melissa Stephenson
77 Peruville Road
Lansing, NY
Carola Soltau
522 Washington St
Hudson, NY
Thomas Weiler
P. O. Box 6421
Ithaca, New York
Lauren Shaw
216 Rachel Carson Way
Ithaca, NY
Carol LaBorie
19 Lancashire Drive
Ithaca, NY
lorie white
6167 State Route 79
Trumansburg, NY
Leland Henry Jr.
Concerned Citizens of Seneca Co.
Donald McFarland
3434 County Road 9
Sheila Squier
110 Columbia Street
Ithaca, NY
Sarah McFarland
3434 County Road 9
Eleanor Biddle
20 Eagleshead Rd
Ithaca, NY
Robert Sawchuk
20 Calico Tree Rd.
Hauppauge, NY
Dan Rudloff
Trout Unlimited
1203 Upton Circle
West Chester , PA
Stuart McCarty
632 Tunnel Rd
Tunnel, NY
cora luke
211 strawberry hill
ithaca, NY
Rita Bergen
949 West End Avenue #1c
New York, New York
James Ewanco
3616 Rath Ave
Endwell, NY
Chris Costello
4265 State Route 21
Canandaigua, NY
Brad Edmondson
106 Short Street
Ithaca, NY
Patricia Maule
28 Columbine Drive
Binghamton, NY
Michael Gruszka
3 Londonderry Lane
Owego, NY
Patricia Vendryes
173 Main St
Groton, NY
Eleanor Dozier
11 Benjamin Hill Rd.
Newfield, NY
Matt Cooper
7 Valley View Road
West Danby, New York
Patricia Witten
151 Wood Rd
Freeville, NY
Claudia Brenner
133 Glenside Rd
Ithaca, NY
Elsa Leviseur
Environmental Advocates of New York
122 Union Street
Hudson, NY
Ron Patterson
1623 main street
pleasant valley, NY
Lydian Green
9 Granite St.
Peterborough , New Hampshire
Linda Glaser
124 Rachel Carson Way
Ithaca, NY
Dave Heck
310 E. Court St.
Ithaca, NY
Gail Flanery
1137 Hedgewood Lane
Niskayuna, NY
Roberta Sibley
353 Snyder Hill Road
Ithaca, NY
Lou DePol
240 Cherry St.
Ithaca, NY
Robert Nickerson
69 Hart Road
Spencer, New York
Stuart Smith
148 Duane Street
Eric Aceto
Ithaca Stringed Instruments
6115 Mount Rd.
Trumansburg, NY
marcia rutledge
Partnership for Onondaga Creek
112 hillcrest road
syracuse, ny
Marianne Gagnier
151 Driggs Avenue, Apt. 1R
Brooklyn, NY
Sarah Gowin
141 Sodom Rd.
Ithaca , NY
Geo Kloppel
227 Tupper Road
Spencer, NY
Roland Micklem
1662 Lopez Ln. Apt. E110
Savannah, New York
Patricia Duncan
134 Edwards Road, P.O. Box 16
Roseboom, New York
Faith Rogow
512 S Plain St
Ithaca, NY
Diane Beckwith
116 Ludlow Rd.
Lansing, NY
Gerri Wiley
19 Lake Street
Owego, NY
Richard Ross
377 Skipperene Road
Narrowsburg, NY
Jacqueline Welles
375 Commerce St.
Corning, NY
Marian Mumford
853 Taughannock Blvd.
Ithaca, NY
Matthew Hogan
115 East First St
Corning, NY
Misha Fredericks
32 Butterville RD
New Paltz, NY
William Kroohs
PO Box 149
Glen Spey, NY
Patricia Donohue
21 Exchange St., Apt #4E
Binghamton, New York
Nancy Istock
League of Women Voters; Town of Ithaca Democratic Committee
213 Texas Ln
Ithaca, NY
Shannon Caldwell
1158 Salt Road
Moravia, NY
Susan Ruff
6 Kolb Road
Binghamton, NY
Nancy Beers
4542 Clark Rd.
Campbell, NY
Wallace Bolger
2410 Walley rd.
Franklin, NY
Elizabeth MacFarland
2130 The Plaza
Niskayuna, NY
Susann Argetsinger
3774 Carpenter Rd
Burdett, NY
Richard Johnsen
343 Raymond Fish Rd.
Hartwick, NY
Bruce Monger
120 Etna Road
Ithaca, NY
Polly Howells
484 First Street
Brooklyn, NY
Holly DeWilde
1465 Mecklenburg Road
Ithaca, New York
David Grimm
685 Hayts Road
Ithaca, NY
Barbara Humphrey
834 Westcott Street
Syracuse, New York