Catskill Mountainkeeper Action Alert
October 2, 2009
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Special Note: The following is an exclusive analysis being made available to Catskill Mountainkeeper members, friends and selected members of the media. It is the first glimpse into the 809 page environmental statement released on September 30, 2009 by the New York State DEC. Additional information and analysis will be provided as available.
 
 
Unless Pressure is Brought to Bear - The Just Released DEC Environmental Statement Clears the Way for Gas Drilling Without Adequate Protection and Controls
 
The New York State DEC Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Study issued Wednesday, September 30, 2009 offered some additional limited protection concerning the New York City watershed, disclosure of chemicals being used and in other areas. But overall, this report clears the way for the commencement of large scale gas drilling in New York State in 2010 without adequate protection for the general public in the Catskill region, the New York City watershed, the Catskill Park and in other environmentally sensitive areas.
 
"While we are appreciative of the few new controls and protections the DEC report offers, overall it is dramatically inadequate in offering reasonable solutions that the public deserves," states Ramsay Adams, Executive Director of Catskill Mountainkeeper. "Unless elected officials, the media and especially the public speak out powerfully and quickly the entire state of New York and our region, in particular, is going to be put at extreme and unnecessary levels of risk."
 
What the DEC Study Means in Brief:
 
Inadequate Watershed Protection - The study allows for gas drilling within the New York City watershed.  It also allows for drilling as close as 1,000 feet from city water tunnels. The report clearly leaves the water supply for many millions of New Yorkers without adequate protection.  It also leaves the entire Delaware water corridor, including the major cities of Trenton and Philadelphia without adequate protection.
 
No cumulative impact requirement - The ruling stipulates that each drilling operation will be evaluated as a single event and puts no limitation on the total number of gas wells that could be developed within a specific area. This means that there will be no control of the cumulative impact on air, land, water, wildlife or people.  The document claims that the 1992 GEIS analysis of the cumulative impact was adequate. This is completely irresponsible and shortsighted. There has been no real analysis of the broad reaching implications of a full build out scenario for the nationally important ecological regions of our state.
 
Catskill Mountainkeeper seriously questions the provisions and the state's staffing abilities relative to monitoring and responding to accidents - The issue of public safety cannot be delegated to local governments.  In the last year and a half since the commencement of drilling, there have been an extraordinary number of reported accidents connected to gas drilling in nearby Pennsylvania. It is highly questionable whether local authorities will be prepared to handle the wide variety of responsibilities for monitoring and tracking accidents as well as preparing local police, firefighters and healthcare institutions to adequately respond to emergencies.  

The degree to which data and analysis is shared with the public, in what forums and how frequently is of great concern - The public is the most important stakeholder in this process. The impending gas exploration and drilling is the single biggest industrial undertaking in the history of New York State. The public interest demands that comprehensive data and analysis of gas drilling operations be gathered and shared with the public. It is not at all clear that this responsibility will be adequately met.
 
Inadequate plan for the wastewater - There is a valuable tracking system for the wastewater provided for in the plan, but the fact remains that we do not have the wastewater infrastructure nor the money needed to upgrade our deteriorating system to handle today's needs without gas drilling chemicals and brine heading towards our State's rivers and streams.
 
There will be no public hearings for the record.  Plans are for public information sessions to be held, but there is no provision for the public to make statements for the record at that time.  This violates the spirit of state law and is an attempt to stifle public comments.  The only way for the public to register their comments to the DEC is to submit written comments at information sessions or to send them online or through the mail.  Catskill Mountainkeeper will facilitate the entry of comments on their website.
 
Catskill Mountainkeeper does not believe that gas drilling should commence until all precautions are in place to ensure that it can be done safely. Without   the proper mitigation and planning to protect the overall region from chaotic industrialization of our precious landscape drilling should not begin.  The DEC report does not do enough to ensure that goal. Mountainkeeper will continue to provide the best analysis possible, push for public disclosure and will consider possible litigation on behalf of our constituents in the Catskill region.
 
"We are urging all elected representatives and residents of New York State to educate themselves as quickly as possible," states Mountainkeeper's Ramsay Adams.  "When the trucks are rolling it will be too late to begin to understand the reality of what we've allowed ourselves to get into. We have to act now.  This is our last chance to do something to mitigate or stop gas drilling."
 
It is critical that as many members of the public as possible register in the strongest terms their opinions of the just released Environmental Impact Statement and their desire that gas drilling does not commence in New York until safety can be assured.
 
Click here to link to the DEC and send them your opinions
 
Gas drilling in New York State is quickly becoming a major battle. Leading the fight requires financial resources.  Click here to make a secure online donation.
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For more information about the Gas Drilling Threat, please go to our website or you can call our office at 845.482.5400

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About Catskill Mountainkeeper
Catskill Mountainkeeper is a member based advocacy organization dedicated to preserving and protecting the long term health of the six counties of the Catskill Region.  As a representative face of the Catskills, we strive to be  the eyes, ears and voice that look at issues, listen to concerns and speak on behalf of people who live, work, and recreate here.  Recognizing strength in numbers, we organize concerned citizens to protect existing jobs and industry, take care of abundant but exceedingly vulnerable natural resources, and help to utilize available and often unclaimed local, state, and national funds to prevent and cushion the impact of natural disasters. 
Catskill Mountainkeeper
Ramsay Adams
Executive Director
Catskill Mountainkeeper
Wes Gillingham
Program Director