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Letter to Commissioner Martens

Honorable Joseph Martens
Commissioner, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
625 Broadway, 14th Floor
Albany, NY 12233-1010

Dear Commissioner Martens:

Thank you and Mr. Leff for taking the time to meet with me and my colleagues last Thursday regarding our request to expand the scope of the Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (Draft SGEIS) with regard to Executive Order No. 41. We know you are both immensely busy and appreciate your willingness to schedule a meeting on one day's notice.

I presented you with extensive data that were not available when the SGEIS proceeding began, including documents referenced in the recent Marcellus Shale series in The New York Times as well as information compiled by my firm. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions about the information regarding Total Dissolved Solids, toxic chemicals and radionuclides in gas drilling wastewater or any of the other data.

I argued that it is imperative for the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to address a wide range of issues that were originally excluded from the scope of the SGEIS. Those issues include, but are not limited to: preventing natural gas drilling wastewater hazards; identifying, assessing, avoiding and mitigating public health threats; conducting a cumulative impacts assessment; safeguarding drinking water supply sources and granting New York State Department of Health co-lead agency status in the SGEIS proceeding.

As you know, Executive Order No. 41 requires DEC to: "analyze comprehensively the environmental impacts associated with high-volume hydraulic fracturing combined with horizontal drilling..." Unless the scope of the SGEIS is expanded, DEC's effort to revise the Draft SGEIS will be fatally flawed and your agency's efforts will likely receive additional strong criticism. I reiterate our eagerness to work with you to avoid that outcome.

Your immediate predecessor, Peter Iwanowicz, was quoted in The New York Times on 12/13/10 saying "'it behooves' the next administration to incorporate the range of different issues in the revised draft." I urge you to heed his wise advice.

I respectfully requested you to require a public comment period of not less than 30 days regarding how DEC should go about revising the Draft SGEIS. That request is supported by more than 4,200 signatories to a coalition letter to Governor Cuomo regarding Executive Order No. 41.

See the detailed request and all the signatories at:

You indicated that you would not provide an answer to that request the day we met. I urge you to provide a favorable reply as soon as practicable so that the public can feel confident about the Governor's efforts to fulfill Executive Order No. 41 and protect watersheds that he considers "sacrosanct" from gas drilling.

I was very pleased to hear you declare that you do not support granting New York City's watersheds protections that are not afforded other areas of New York's Marcellus Shale formation. Translating that policy into reality is specifically addressed in the aforementioned coalition letter.

Finally, I would like to underscore that Governor Cuomo has repeatedly said he believes horizontal hydrofracturing of Marcellus Shale must only be allowed to proceed in New York State based on "good science." Given that policy, it would frankly be disingenuous if he does not grant our respectful request to include in the Revised Draft SGEIS all the new technical issues and scientific data that have come to light since the proceeding began more than two and a half years ago. It would be even more baffling why he would refuse to convene a Technical as well as a Citizens' Advisory Committee to guide DEC's revision of the Draft SGEIS. To date, he has not provided a favorable reply to those requests.

Thank you for your consideration and for your willingness to meet with our group again. I assure you that we all wish you the very best in your tenure as DEC Commissioner. Please let us know if we can be of assistance to you, your staff or Governor Cuomo.

Very truly yours,

Walter Hang

P. S. It was very nice to see you again after so many years. I hope your dental visit was a painless success.