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Letter to Governor Cuomo 6/18/11

June 18, 2011
By Fax Delivery
Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
The Capitol
Albany, NY 12224

Dear Governor Cuomo:

Thank you for your letter of June 2, 2011. I know you are extremely busy. I very much appreciate the time you took to write me about the coalition letter that asks you to expand the scope of the Marcellus Shale draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (draft SGEIS) pursuant to Executive Order No. 41. I have shared your response with the coalition letter's more than 5,000 signatories.

Upon learning that you are unwilling to provide a public comment period regarding how DEC should expand the scope of the draft SGEIS, I wrote to Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Martens to request that his agency address additional issues as part of its revision of the draft SGEIS.

It is my understanding that your office imposed a deadline of July 1, 2011 for DEC to complete its revision of the draft SGEIS. With all respect, I urge you to rescind that deadline.

First, DEC is woefully understaffed. Commissioner Martens told me he has been diverting staff from their normal duties to assist with the revision effort. I also was informed that an information request I submitted in February still has not been fulfilled and has not been worked on for more than a month due to the revision. DEC provides essential services for a wide range of business as well as environmental protection purposes. DEC should not be robbing Peter to pay Paul, so to speak.

Second, I do not believe DEC can adequately complete its revision by your deadline. Commissioner Martens just received nearly two hundred sets of substantive comments from academic researchers, elected officials, environmental and civic groups and citizens regarding dozens of additional issues that should be addressed by the revised draft SGEIS. He also received voluminous information from Assembly Representatives Robert K. Sweeney and Richard N. Gottfried regarding a joint Environmental Conservation-Health Committee Hearing they recently held.

Fulfilling the original scope of the revision would have been extraordinarliy challenging. Addressing all these additional issues is simply not possible by your proposed deadline.

Third, I wrote to Lisa P. Jackson, Administrator of the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, to request that her agency update its detailed 12/30/09 comments to DEC. I also asked EPA to provide DEC with all pertinent data compiled for its National Hydrofracturing study. Given that EPA and DEC share authority for safeguarding New York’s environment and public health, DEC must not complete its revision of the draft SGEIS without reviewing the EPA information I referenced.

All these requests are consistent with Commissioner Martens' statement (AP 3/23/11) that: "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."

In conclusion, Commissioner Martens and his colleagues must be allowed to complete the revision of the draft SGEIS pursuant to your continuation of Executive Order No. 41 without undue haste or a looming arbitrary deadline. Given the withering criticism received by DEC’s original proposal, releasing an incomplete and inadequate revised draft SGEIS simply makes no sense.

On a final note, you may recall that we were unable to meet after your visit to Ithaca on 8/19/10. If appropriate, I remain willing to speak with you personally about Marcellus Shale gas issues.

Thank you for your consideration and your public service. Congratulations on all the successes your administration’s hard work has achieved.

Very truly yours,

Walter Hang