Catskill Mountainkeeper Action Alert
 May 14, 2010

Lessons for New York from the Gulf Coast

Today's New York Times contains a story entitled "Drilling Was Allowed Despite Warning". This article powerfully reinforces the strong need to have effective regulations, monitoring and penalties in place before beginning to extract minerals from the earth. How can we, our Governor or the DEC think that we can do the same thing here and get a different result from the catastrophe taking place in the Gulf of Mexico? 

BP DisasterThe Times story reported today that "the federal Minerals Management Service gave permission to BP and dozens of other oil companies to drill in the Gulf of Mexico without first getting required permits from another agency." In addition they also "routinely overruled its staff biologist and engineers who raised concerns about the safety and the environmental impact of certain drilling proposals." 

It was also broadly reported in the media yesterday that the accident in the Gulf was primarily caused by lower quality cement than needed at the underwater base of the drill and an emergency shut off valve that was okay when it was installed but was inoperable at the time of the accident. This is a clear prima fascia case of an environmental accident caused by lack of necessary regulations, lack of monitoring and not enough separation between the regulators and the industry.  

In New York State while our DEC is charged with protecting our environment, they also have a mandate to vigorously promote natural gas extraction.   These conflicting goals leave them open to exactly the same type of conflicts. 

The guidelines that DEC has proposed so far are too weak, don't have strong penalties, and leave enforcement to a drastically overburdened workforce who has publicly said they can't manage the added work.  There is also the potential to have guidelines relaxed or abandoned without legislative or public oversight.   

Marsellas Shale Gas DrillingIs there any question that we, in New York, will be at least as vulnerable as the Gulf Coast States?

The disaster in the Gulf is an example of the worst case scenario becoming a reality.  BP had said that the chances of something like it happening were so small that they didn't need to prepare a disaster plan.  Now that the disaster has happened they have no way to deal with it.  In New York they are saying the same kinds of things - that there is virtually no chance that a well casing will fail - that the toxic chemicals used in fracking will safely stay underground and that there haven't ever been any accidents.  The truth is that these kinds of environmental disasters are already occuring.  In fact just over the Delaware River in Dimock Pennsylvania (in the Marcellus Shale) over 8000 gallons of dangerous drilling fluids spilled contaminating streams and killing fish.   The spills, which occurred at a well site run by Cabot Oil and Gas, involve a compound manufactured by Halliburton that is described as a "potential carcinogen" and is used in the drilling process of hydraulic fracturing, according to state officials. The contaminants seeped into a nearby creek, where a fish kill was reported by the state Department of Environmental Protection.  The problems caused by this disaster were so bad that the PA authorities had to force Cabot to stop any activity in the state until the problems could be dealt with.  Read all about this environmental disaster in the Marcellus Shale here.

That is why we must mobilize and tell Governor Paterson and DEC Commissioner Grannis that NO DRILLING UNTIL IT'S SAFE. 


We must flood their inboxes with emails now! Use our simple email widget and sample letter by clicking on the links below.

Send Governor David Paterson an email HERE
Send DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis an email HERE
Send EPA administrator for the 2nd Region Judith Enck an email HERE

Please write all three today! We can still win this battle!

Sign the Petition - No Drilling Until We Get the Science
Over 2870 people have signed our common sense petition demanding that the DEC wait to issue any permitting guidelines until the federal EPA Hydrofracking Study - which is currently underway - is completed

Sign the petition HERE
Read the signatures and comments HERE
Find out more about the EPA Study

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About Catskill Mountainkeeper
Catskill Mountainkeeper is a community based environmental advocacy organization, dedicated to creating a flourishing sustainable economy in the Catskills and preserving and protecting the area's long term health. We address issues of water integrity for the Delaware and Susquehanna River Systems, the defense of the vast woodlands that encompass the Catskill Forest Preserve and the New York City Watershed as well as farmland protection. We promote "smart" development that balances the economic needs and concerns of the Catskill regions' citizens and the protection of our abundant but exceedingly vulnerable natural resources.  We use the Citizens Action Program of the Open Space Insititute as a fiscal sponsor.