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Accepting Written Public Input Without Further Delay Regarding Revising the draft SGEIS, 6/5/11

Honorable Joseph Martens
Commissioner, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233-4500

Dear Commissioner:

I trust you have been well since we last spoke and that your Thursday visit to the Capitol was productive. I happened to be on the third floor when I heard you were on the second floor. I lingered at the entrance to the Hall of Governors to see if I could speak to you, but had to leave for an appointment.

I read that Governor Cuomo's Director of State Operations ordered your agency to complete its revision of the draft SGEIS pursuant to Executive Order No. 41 by 7/1/11. That is why I write today.

As we discussed at our 3/23/11 meeting, a coalition letter to Governor Cuomo with nearly 5,000 signatories requests a public comment period to address how the scope of the draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) must be expanded to include a wide variety of concerns that only came to light after the proceeding began nearly three years ago. That request has not yet received a favorable reply.


At least 64 Legislators have echoed that request in a letter to Governor Cuomo. Their entreaty similarly has not elicited a response.


After our March meeting, an Associated Press (AP) article quoted you on the record saying:

"'Some people say we should reopen the process. We're looking at all of that,' Martens said. 'We're trying to solicit and digest all the information we can and put it into a document that addresses all the concerns raised to date [emphasis added]. It's a really formidable task.

Martens said New York's permitting guidelines will address problems that have been seen in other states, particularly Pennsylvania, where Marcellus Shale drilling and fracking has been blamed for
contamination of water wells and rivers
[emphasis added].'"


DEC earlier stated its Executive Order No. 41 review would be limited to comments received prior to 12/31/09. That was nearly 18 months ago. With all respect, DEC under your tenure has not afforded the public any opportunity whatsoever to bring their concerns up "to date."

For example, I wrote to Governor Cuomo on May 17, 2011 about extremely troubling mortgage lending impacts reportedly associated with gas leasing. That issue is not addressed in any way in the draft SGEIS. Will it be included within the scope of DEC's review?

In late February, The New York Times released more than 30,000 pages of documents regarding gas drilling wastewater hazards in Pennsylvania, including extensive data compiled by my firm. Will that information be included in DEC's review?

The signatories to the above-referenced letters believe all tight shale horizontal hydrofracturing concerns must be addressed openly and comprehensively. That is consistent with your above-referenced statement. In order for the revised draft SGEIS to achieve that high standard, critical issues must not be ignored or addressed in a non-transparent, ad hoc fashion.

With those goals in mind, please inform me how interested parties can submit to DEC new scientific, technical, regulatory and research information that they believe warrants your agency's attention with regard to Executive Order No. 41.

I believe the most straight-forward way to accomplish your stated goal is to allow the public to write you without further delay so that their concerns can be reviewed and addressed in the revised draft SGEIS. That is what you very clearly promised in your comments to AP.

I believe your willingness to accept written submissions over a ten-day period would suffice at this point in DEC's deliberations. Please let me know if my proposal is acceptable. Given your looming deadline, I look forward to your prompt reply.

If I do not hear back by the end of three business days (5:00 PM 6/8/11), I will assume my proposal is acceptable.

Finally, you also told AP in March that your staff would meet "through the summer to complete a new environmental impact statement for gas drilling..." Your comment clearly indicates that DEC's review and revision process would not be completed by 7/1/11.

Would you please explain how you will meet the Governor's deadline without comprising the integrity of your agency's effort? At our meeting, you said DEC was so under-staffed that you were pulling people from their normal duties to work on revising the draft SGEIS. Given those dire circumstances, how can DEC reasonably complete the revision of the draft SGEIS two months earlier than your original schedule?

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions about my requests.

Thank you for your consideration and for your continued public service.

Warm regards,

Walter Hang