Is July 1st D-Day?

The NYS legislature adjourned last week without enacting a single piece of drilling-related legislation.   A07013/S4616, the bill that would close gas industries’ hazardous waste loophole, passed the Assembly, as did the equally important home rule bill, A3245/S3472, but neither were brought to a vote in the Senate.

Now attention turns to Governor Cuomo and the DEC.  A few weeks ago the governor unexpectedly ordered the DEC to issue the revised Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement on July 1st.   This surprised virtually everyone because until recently the DEC has been saying that it wouldn’t be able to complete the draft until late summer.

At the same time the governor ordered the DEC to hurry up and release the draft, he also ordered the department to expand the scope of its study by including an investigation of the recent well blowout in Bradford County, PA. That accident spewed thousands of gallons of toxic fluid across farmlands, contaminated a trout stream, and forced families to evacuate their homes.  

These seemingly contradictory instructions are puzzling. There’s only one thing we can be sure of, if the draft is made public on Friday, a lot of concerned New Yorkers will spend the Fourth of July weekend combing through what is sure to be a long and complex document.

Ask Governor Cuomo to make sure the DEC has the time it needs to do its job properly, and that the public has enough time to analyze and comment on the new draft SGEIS.

Why Does Bradley J. Field Still Have a Job?

Ever since the oil and gas industry targeted New York State for high-volume fracking, the DEC’s Division of Mineral Resources, which is responsible for oil and gas extraction, has been headed by the same individual, Bradley J. Field. For concerned New Yorkers, Mr. Field’s tenure as director of the DMR has been an unmitigated disaster. Time and again he has favored the oil and gas industry over the legitimate concerns of the public.

•    In 2008, Field’s Division of Mineral Resources (DMR) greased the skids for high-volume fracking by pushing a well-spacing bill through the legislature while falsely claiming it was only a “technical” bill, and that the type of fracking that would be used in the Marcellus had been ongoing in New York State for decades. In fact, “high-volume slickwater fracturing,” the technology that would be used in the Marcellus, was new and had never been approved for use in the state. The DEC-backed bill passed late at night on the last day of the session, but some members of the legislature publicly complained that they weren’t given an opportunity to consider its contents or implications before it was brought to a vote.

•    While promoting the Marcellus gas “play” Mr. Field concealed the state’s long history of drilling accidents by falsely claiming that 75,000 wells had been safely drilled in New York. In truth, the DEC has no records at all for tens of thousands of those wells, and DMR files contained records of hundreds of environmental accidents that came to light only because persistent citizens ferreted out the information using the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL).

•    Under Mr. Field’s leadership, the DMR lied to the public about the contents of fracking fluid. At a time when drillers were using dozens of products, containing dozens of highly toxic chemicals, the DMR claimed the process used only “sand, fresh water, nitrogen and a diluted soapy solution.”

•    Field’s DMR also allowed drillers to start using “slickwater” fracking, which utilizes huge volumes of fluid and dozens of toxic chemicals, even though the process had never been studied or formally approved for use by the DEC.

•    Recently, when confronted with evidence that high-volume fracking has already gone on in New York State, Mr. Field baldly stated that it never happened, without bothering to explain how his statements could possibly be squared with documents obtained from the DMR itself.

•    The DEC’s own staff has twice made it clear that they are dissatisfied with the work of the DMR under Mr. Field’s leadership. In 2009, the union representing two thousand professional, scientific, and technical employees publicly branded the D-SGEIS “inadequate.” And on May 31st the union came out in support of a moratorium that would prevent the DMR from issuing permits for hydrofracked wells. In other words, the DEC’s own employees are calling for a law that will prevent the DMR from conducting business as usual!

If New Yorkers are to have confidence in the DEC’s ability to safeguard our health and environment, we must know that the individuals charged with regulating the gas industry can be trusted. Mr. Field cannot be trusted.

Demand that Brad Field be replaced!

A New Low? (Even for the Post)

A June 2nd editorial in the New York Post savagely attacked New York State Attorney Eric T. Schneiderman for seeking to protect the fifteen million Americans who rely on the Delaware River Basin for their drinking water. Schneiderman’s crime, according the Post? He told the Delaware River Basin Commission and the Army Corps of Engineers that he would sue to ensure that they conducted a federally mandated cumulative impact study before permitting shale gas extraction in the basin.

The Post termed Schneiderman’s action evidence of “a radical environmental agenda” and claimed the attorney general is in thrall to “special interests.” In this case, the special interests would seem to be “public health” and the “rule of law.”

Tell the New York Post to tell the truth!

Two out of three people who find out about fracking think the risks aren’t worth the rewards.

Public awareness is the key to our success, so spread the word!

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