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Letter To Frances Beinecke, NRDC, Thank you for Calling/Request for Further Action

May, 6, 2012

Ms. Frances Beinecke
President, Natural Resources Defense Council
40 West 20th Street
New York, NY 10011

Dear Frances,

Thank you and Eric for taking the time to call me last Monday. I know that you are both very busy and appreciate your willingness to discuss the Hydraulic Fracturing Advisory Panel Pledge and the Withdraw the Revised Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (RD SGEIS) coalition letter with more than 22,000 signatories that I provided for your consideration.

I have worked closely with NRDC for more than 30 years on many complex environmental and public health issues. I appreciate your willingness to listen to what I had to say about Marcellus Shale gas extraction concerns and to try to find common ground. I know that is challenging and thank you for your forbearance.

I am very disappointed to hear that NRDC is "not in a position" to sign either the pledge or the coalition letter. I urge you to reconsider that decision or to find other means to achieve the same ends.

We agreed that New York's de facto moratorium on horizontal hydraulic fracturing has allowed our state to avoid the shale gas contamination problems experienced by Pennsylvania, Ohio and other areas.

We also agreed that Governor Cuomo and his Department of Environmental Conservation have a unique opportunity to require stringent regulatory and financial requirements that are unprecedented in our nation's extraction mining history.

With those goals in mind, I believe it is imperative to make sure that Governor Cuomo fully resolves the wide array of shortcomings that have been documented in the RD SGEIS before permitting any horizontal fracturing in New York. That is precisely what the Advisory Panel Pledge and Withdraw the RD SGEIS Coalition letter are designed to achieve.

You said several things that I wish to underscore. First, you noted that I live in the Marcellus Shale region. Second, you said that you "could not imagine" what it would be like to live in the Southern Tier if shale gas fracturing is permitted.

You might recall that when I started Toxics Targeting 22 years ago, I spoke to you about identifying toxic sites in the neighborhoods where NRDC members live in order to enhance your organization's advocacy efforts. I remember that you replied: "Who will deal with those people?" You obviously appreciated how difficult it is to organize citizens immediately faced with environmental hazards.

When Marcellus Shale fracturing was first proposed in New York, I assumed environmental groups would organize citizens at the grassroots level to take action. When that did not happen, I realized that shale gas fracturing would likely occur in New York unless I got personally involved in the matter.

I have worked on this issue virtually night and day for more than two and a half years. My strategy to require the original draft SGEIS to be withdrawn and revised is the basis of Executive Order No. 41. I have made hundreds of presentations, staged dozens of events and built a broad coalition of elected officials, business owners, civic and environmental groups as well as citizens. I am dealing with literally hundreds of activists. In the course of that work, I have often recalled what you said.

I am making this effort because I believe New York will have only one opportunity to accomplish the goals we discussed.

I ask NRDC to play a key role in that effort. NRDC is a nearly $100 million/year organization and a member of the Hydraulic Fracturing Advisory Panel. You are literally and figuratively "at the table." Citizens and I are not.

Nearly 14 years ago, NRDC provided invaluable assistance to my efforts to clean up Southern Cayuga Lake. That successful campaign should be a model for NRDC's shale gas efforts.

NRDC wrote a legal memo that has guided my research, advocacy and organizing efforts ever since. The campaign I launched with NRDC's help gained national attention in The New York Times, generated nearly $90 million in local toxic site clean ups and resulted in an unprecedented characterization of the lake's water quality problems and how they could be solved.



One of the local activists who has helped me clean up Cayuga Lake once said that she believes that "Ithaca is worth fighting for." That is the essence of the matter when it comes to defending communities from environmental harm.

It would be nice if providing testimony and serving on advisory panels were enough to solve New York's shale gas mining problems, but a far greater commitment is obviously required.

That is why I request that NRDC makes sure that all New Yorkers are afforded the same level of protection from shale gas fracturing hazards. Shale gas extraction must not be allowed in the Southern Tier or any other areas of New York until it is safe for all areas of our state, including the New York City watershed.

I ask you to put yourself in the position of residents of those areas. Until the RD SGEIS concerns that NRDC, I and others have documented are fully resolved, please join me in assuring that the de facto shale gas fracturing moratorium remains in effect. That is clearly the only way to avoid irreparable gas fracturing harm to New York's environment and public health.

Finally, I specifically request that NRDC oppose any "pilot" gas drilling program in the Southern Tier or any where else in New York pending adoption of a Final SGEIS.

I look forward to speaking with you again. Please do not hesitate to call me any time if I can assist you.

Thank you for your consideration.

Best regards,