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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

Marianne Mueller
156 Echo Lake South Lane
Greene, NY
Lisa Allan-Ziemann
1027 County Rt. 38
Bainbridge, NY
Kaleb Winters
210 1/2 N.7th St.
Olean, NY
Sandra Casamento
2541 Cemetery Rd
Fabbius, NY
Michael Singer
481 Dugway Road
Austerlitz, Nerw York
John Bijarney
101 South Street
Chenango Forks, NY
kathy Tompkins
2001 Corner Creek Lane 3 72
Jackson, Wyoming
Don Behling
546 County Road 9 Page Brook Road
Chenango Forks, NY
Matthew Maholchic
53 Hillview Drive
Norwich, 13815
Larissa Langersmith
1111 E Pennsylvania Ave
Coeur D Alene, Idaho
Laura Nowack
405 Sheffield Court
Brewster, New York
Patricia Zima
Slingerlands, NY
Laurie Greenberg
7 Signal Hill Road
Fayetteville, NY, 13066
Matthew Ginsburg
229 East 12th Street, Apt 54
virginia Langley
139 Lewis Street
Endicott, NY
Brianna Richardson
110 1/2 Bank St.
Newfield, NY
Janelle Daddona
3792 Riverside Drive
Sayre, PA
Sheila G. Cohen
209 Groton Ave.
Cortland, NY
Heather Carroll
210 1/2 N. 7th St.
Olean, NY
Heather Carroll
210 1/2 N. 7th St.
Olean, NY
Heather Carroll
210 1/2 N. 7th St.
Olean, NY
Heather Carroll
210 1/2 N. 7th St.
Olean, NY
Heather Carroll
210 1/2 N. 7th St.
Olean, NY
Melinda Ames
205 Farmingdale Rd.
Camillus, NY
David Ferguson
411 West 22 Street
New York, NY
Erin Potter
The Green Umbrella
56 Harry L. Drive
Kirkwood, NY
Dereck Haugh
1534 south
New York, NY
Kyle Pangman
4 Orange St.
Marcellus, NY
Kelly Pangman
4 Orange St.
Marcellus, NY
Pearl Storat
POB 61
Liverpool, NY
Jason Smith
Syracuse Peace Council
1062 Lafayette St/
Syracuse, NY
Emily Tran
321 Hillbrook Road
Syracuse, NY
Valarie Vought
Syracuse Peace Council
201 Story Ave.
Syracuse, NY
Steven Foster
3906 Chatham Lane
Canandaigua, NY
Gloria Foster
3906 Chatham Lane
Canandaigua, NY
Victoria Folsom
986 Park Avenue
Rochester, NY
Keith Said
785 West End Avenue
New York, NY
Kathy Lepkowski
143 Westland Ave.
Rochester, NY
ed lepkowski
rochester, Ny
Janet Smith
1088 Allison Hill Rd
Newark Valley, New York
Michael Duggan
899 Friar Tuck Lane
Webster, New York
K.E. Battig
519 Cayuga Heights Rd.
Ithaca, NY
Lynn Crane
16 Hitree Lane
Rochester, NY
perry ragusa
738 gospel hill road
guilford, new york
nina ragusa
738 gospel hill road
guilford, new york
Ann Boehm
280 Speed Hill /road
Brooktondale, New York
Lois Gundrum
600 Third Avenue
Watervliet, New York
Denise De La Torre
187 Jasmine
Laguna Beach, Ca
steven elling
18 willow lane po box 273
canaan, ny
Rob Childs
274 Marlborough Street, Apt. 9
Boston, MA
Steve Athans
7712 black willow
Liverpool, Ny
Toni Athans
7712 black willow
Liverpool, Ny
judith blumberg
152 bloomer road
lagrangeville, NY
Theresa Hudgins
21 South Lewis Street
Auburn, NY
Theresa Gill
8 Osborne Road
Poughkeepsie, NY
Rayleen liechti
3710 Struble Rd
Endwell, NY
Aaron Johal
Chesterfield, None
Joe Dinkin
Working Families
94 Huntington Street
Hartford, CT
Elizabeth Hughes
43 N. Main Street Apt 3
Cortland, New York
Mario Hernandez
163 Ridge Road, Apt. 2
Lansing, NY
colleen kattau
16 james street
cortland, ny
Neil Berger
246 15th St. #7
Brooklyn, NY
Diane Colman
138 Updike Rd
Ithaca, ny
James Skaley
Finger-Lakes Move-On Council
940 Dryden Rd
Ithaca, NY
Brad Pacalis
Brad Pacalis
8 Locust St.
Windsor, NY
Gary Hammond
3 Evergreen St.
Cortland, New York
Caleb Leigh
9399 W Hill Rd
Fillmore, NY
Helen Ellis
309 West 72nd Street Apt 4A
New York, New York
Jamie Krolak
31 Scott Crescent Drive
Scottsville, New York
Cynthia Johnson
62 W. Main St.
Bainbridge, New York
Chad Davis
Oneida County Legislator - 18 District Representative
3438 Martain Road
Clinton, New York
Kurt Streifert
170 Harrington Rd
Johnson City, NY
Pamela Maurath
310 West 106th Street, #5E
New York, NY
Sharon Lawless
1578 Houghtaling Hollow Road
East Meredith, New York
Clyde Zaloudek
431 E 12 St 1B
New York, New York
edward foley
522 pleasant hill rd
port crane, ny
Francine Xavier
box 423
Bearsville, ny
Sean R Carter
2505 Anthem Village Drive
Henderson, NV
David York
1222 7TH ST NE
Hickory, NC
Timothy Dennis
Our Future
95 Locust Blvd
Ronkonkoma, NY
Kelly Morris
90 Lieb Rd.
Spencer, NY
Nancy Medsker
67 Marsh Rd.
Ithaca, NY
Sally Matteson
866 Brant Farnham Road
Irving, N.Y.
Goline Doremus
101 Kelly Road
Arkvile, NY
Gary Thomas Smith
MICAH (Moving In Congregations Acting in Hope)
c/o St. Mary's Church, 59 N. Main St.
Cortland, New York
Dorothea Poggi
Friends of Ferry Point Park
716 Brush Ave.
Bronx, New York
James Amodeo
105 Haven Ave., Apt. C
New York, NY
Betty Berndt
1512 Fintches Corners RD
Martville, New York
Suzanne Redonnet Parker
2232 State Route 14 North
Geneva, N.Y.
Scott Parker
2232 RT 14N
Geneva, NY
ynthia carestio
frack free geesee
4125 Clay st
livoia, ny
2641 Donelson rd.
Jamestown, n.y.
george adams
Community Biomass Energy
105 jackson hollow rd
newfield, ny