Browsing the Community Effects category...


 

Our neighbors in Tonawanda, on the Niagara River in western New York State just south of Buffalo, were being poisoned for decades by a company that, unlike the gas/oil industry, does not enjoy exemptions from clean water, clean air, toxic waste laws and other regulations set in place to protect our environment and health.

For many years regulatory agencies DEC (NYS) and EPA (federal) ignored residents’ complaints of foul air and physical ailments, outrageously high rates of cancer and other diseases, and benzene levels 500 TIMES HIGHER than what is considered the highest acceptable level in state guidelines. Not only benzene, but other highly toxic chemicals were being released over decades into the air and water by a company called Tonawanda Coke Corporation. (No doubt others of the 50 or so industrial polluters that have PERMITS in Tonawanda contributed even more.)
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From the piece:
Joe Martens, commissioner of New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation, defended the record of his agency, which eventually set up high-tech air quality monitors that documented extremely elevated benzene levels, leading to the  enforcement actions. But he said such sophisticated equipment had not been available previously. So state officials had no way of knowing about the benzene, formaldehyde, and other toxic emissions seeping from leaks in equipment and piping at the plant, Martens said. “Hazardous air pollutants are difficult to detect. We didn’t have the equipment to do the type of detection — you know, police work — that EPA was able to do” later.
After reading this, what kind of idiot would say, “Hey, sure the DEC and DEP and EPA will protect us from being poisoned by industry”? Ask the people of Tonawanda, many of whom have become very sick and some of whom have died because of the toxins dumped on them by this single iron-smelting factory.
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Yet we are to trust that the DEC and other flaccid regulatory agencies will protect us from Big Gas and related industries and their fracking and related machines? No way, Jose! We must tell the DEC and the governor that no amount of regulation is acceptable. DEC (and DEP and other states’ agencies) regulations are not acceptable. Only a full and total ban on industrial poisoning from fracking and other industries is acceptable. 
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Read the great investigative piece on Tonawanda citizens who fought back against the polluting company, which was FINALLY CHARGED IN CRIMINAL COURT because poisoning us and our communities IS A CRIME and thus should be in the criminal code. Every one of the corporate officers and senior staff should serve serious jail time and pay heavy financial damages to those they poisoned. Not that any amount of money could restore the poisoned people’s lives or adequately compensate for their losses.

This piece is part of a fine, scary, and eye-opening new series by the Center for Public Integrity in concert with Slate and NPR, called “Poisoned Places.”
As often happens during in-depth investigations — an unexpected discovery. Reporters learned that the EPA maintains a “watch list” that includes serious or chronic Clean Air Act violators that have not been subject to timely enforcement. Two versions of the internal list, never previously made public, were obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. (More about the watch list here.)

Congratulations to the investigators, researchers, writers, editors, publishers, and funder of these important pieces. May they awaken people to the dangers we face and help them force change to protect and sustain the places we live, the air we breathe, and the lives we hope to continue leading.

- Maura Stephens, independent writer, associate director of the Park Center for Independent Media, and a cofounder of Coalition to Protect New York

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To anyone who knows a little of the history and nature of the oil & gas industry, it will come as no particular surprise that a couple of gas industry executives, at a 10/31 – 11/01  conference in Houston, recommended the use of military psy ops techniques and former military psy ops operatives to infiltrate and influence communities  in an campaign to “overcome public concern over hydraulic fracturing.”

Over and over, on every scale, from its dealings with everyone from homeowners to local government to state government,  the industry has demonstrated a gross sense of entitlement.  “What’s yours is mine, and what’s mine is mine.” (Links later. ) But perhaps nothing exemplifies this so simply and directly as the statement of Matt Carmichael, Anadarko representative, (see photo above) who recommended his fellow industry executives, “Download the U.S. Army-slash-Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Manual, because we are dealing with an insurgency.  There’s a lot of good lessons in there and coming from a military background, I found the insight in that extremely remarkable.”

His fellow executive, Matt Pitzarella, also pictured above, of Range Resources, seconded Carmichael’s advice:  “One employee who works with municipal governments in Pennsylvania has a background in psychological operations in the Army. Since the majority of his work is spent in local hearings and developing local regulations for drilling, we’ve found that his service in the Middle East is a real asset.”  (Story with audio clips here)

Of course, these statements reveal much that warrants commentary,  but somewhere near the top is what Carmichael’s phrase, “We are dealing with an insurgency,” demonstrates about the gas industry’s self-perception.

Here’s Wikipedia’s definition of an insurgency:  “An armed rebellion against a constituted authority (for example, an authority recognized as such by the United Nations).”

So if in the gas industry’s thinking, community resistance to the many hazards of gas extraction constitutes an insurgency, or illegitimate armed rebellion, then the gas industry considers itself a “constituted authority.”

Citizens everywhere have news for you, boys: yes, the very special treatment you’ve been getting for the last 100 years has made you a very spoiled, very  large, and indeed very dangerous child.  But you are not a “constituted authority” despite your wet dreams.  And we are not a rebellion.

You are the outlaws.  We are the citizens with whom the constituted authority ultimately rests.

One thing you got right: we are armed, with a weapon that history suggests you have little use for – the truth.

 

 

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My response to Peter Applebome’s NYT article, in which I outline 3 major complaints:
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1.
I take issue with the way the article paints a picture of division in our community.  In fact, in my remarks to Peter Applebome, I made the point many times that, if anything, this issue has UNITED our community in the face of the gargantuan and wealthy gas industry and the few individuals who have fallen prey to it.  I was under the impression that Mr. Applebome was doing a story about grassroots efforts to fight fracking in upstate NY and the group I helped start called Middlefield Neighbors.  Middlefield Neighbors, which is the real story in my mind, was not even mentioned in the article.  I spoke with Applebome at length about the evolution of Middlefield Neighbors; the work we have done to educate and inform our town about fracking and gas leases in our area; the survey we conducted in which 84% of respondents were opposed to drilling, and only 6% for it; and the massive outpouring of support our Town Board received when they voted to strengthen our existing zoning laws and Master Plan.
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I also invited 5 other much more educated and articulate members of Middlefield Neighbors and Sustainable Otsego to meet with Applebome in my home, and none of the over two hours of conversation we had made it into the article.  Applebome had his article in mind before he visited Cooperstown, and it is my sincere regret that I ever mentioned the piece of hate mail I received or the angry woman I encountered at the gym when she interrupted a private conversation I was having, because, as I told the reporter, these are in fact anomalies in what has been, in general, an experience of community building and unification, as Middlefield and other towns rise up against corporate greed.  I am ashamed at my naïveté, and that my words have been used to such ends, and I regret any problems this might have caused.
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2.
Furthermore, it seems facile and beneath the reputation of the NY Times to trot out the tired old story that the fracking debate is an argument between wealthy, downstate yuppies and impoverished, native farmers. Peter Applebome should have known better and taken the time to report what is really newsworthy and exciting about the antifracking movement in upstate NY—that it has unified people from all walks of life, from all socio-economic levels, all of whom realize that this is the defining issue of our time.
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I personally am not a wealthy urbanite, although the article would imply that I am, and I am also not a newcomer to Cooperstown.  As I shared with the reporter, my family has been in this area since the turn of the 20th century.  My grandfather was a vet in Cooperstown since the 1940s. My grandmother was the Director of the northern Otsego County chapter of the Red Cross.  My father grew up in the house next door to mine.  I was born at Bassett hospital. I spent summers here with my grandparents my entire life.  On our visits with them, we would swim and fish at Otsego Lake, “help” my grandfather with the cats and dogs in the kennels, drive around from farm to farm with him on house calls, and roam the woods and streams.
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But I really believe that all that is beside the point.  The point is that gas drilling is not going to help poor farmers solve their financial problems, or help anyone at all, really, aside from the executives at Gastem or Cabot or ExxonMobil.  As Ken Jaffe of Slope Farms in Meredith, NY, put it, “He said, she said” misses the story.  It is a story of overwhelming local opposition to hydrofracking. It is a story of gas companies attempting to use state government power to violate local land use regulations and voter sentiment, and impose their will on this region.”
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Native or non-native, rich or poor, EVERYONE will be adversely affected if fracking comes to our area, which is why nearly everyone who lives here opposes it so strongly.  If downstaters and Syracusans don’t oppose it as strongly, it is because Cuomo has protected those watersheds, in a move that clearly demonstrates that he knows high-volume hydrofracking is not safe, but he trusts that city dwellers don’t really care and will still vote for him later on.  Applebome failed to mention this major story, which could have served to fill a gap in New York Times reporting.
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3.
Lastly, the article’s implication that expression of opinions contrary to that held by the minority who want drilling has caused a tension in Cooperstown that might not otherwise be here is absurd.  The tension arrived when the gas men arrived and exploited the economic depression in our area, particularly exploiting the many farmers who signed. The idea expressed in the article that it is somehow unseemly or unladylike or ungentlemanly to cry foul at the situation and to attempt to educate the community about the injustice and the dangers of gas drilling, as experienced in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, smacks of censorship in the interest of preserving a mythical status quo of harmony that exists only in the minds of an elite few.
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My husband, George Hovis, responded to this aspect of the article very well, so I will quote him here: “The article depicts divisiveness over proposed upstate hydrofracking in a mostly negative light, as if any individuals contributing to such discord are enemies of the peace.  I am reminded of the many “moderates” in the U.S. South who cautioned Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to discontinue his protests against racial segregation because they felt such protests created tensions within Birmingham and other communities.  Dr. King responded in his famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail” with regret that these individuals did not “express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations.”  Although he “earnestly opposed violent tension,” King argued that there is “a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth.”  The same might be said about the struggle of residents in Cooperstown and across upstate New York, who are battling the gas industry’s invasion of their communities, awakening in the citizenry a belief that they can participate in democracy and stand up to corporate power.  These citizens have discovered the abiding truth that they can do so not by deferring to politicians but only by speaking out publicly.  I believe the vast majority of upstate New Yorkers who have participated in the opposition to hydrofracking would agree with the injunction: ‘Be civil, but do not be silent.’ “
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I consider myself a person of peace, and I make every effort in my interactions with others to listen to their side and try to understand their point of view, but I will not be silent in the face of this threat to our water and our land.  As I told the reporter, “Fracking is not safe, and I couldn’t live with myself if I just sat back and let it happen here without raising my voice against the gas industry that values profits more than people’s health and the environment. Someday I will be able to tell my children and grandchildren that I did every possible thing I could to try to save our home.”
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Although I am not writing this letter from the Otsego County jail (my current discomfort merely involves my picture on the front page of the New York Times and shame that I was not savvy enough to avoid being manipulated), you can rest assured that I would if it came to that, and that I will continue to be “civil, but not silent.”
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Thank you all for the good work that you do and for your attention to my response.  I am continually amazed to find myself in the company of such intelligent and creative people, and grateful for your strength and support.
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–Kim Jastremski

An abbreviated version of Kim’s letter was published by the NYT:  Antifracking Movement

For the story to which Kim Jastremski responds, see NYT story:  Drilling Debate in Cooperstown, NY, is Personal



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Public Comments

Kenneth Jaffe, MD

Meredith, NY

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER BASIN COMMISSION September 15, 2011

 

Thank you for the opportunity to address the Commission. I want voice my objection to permits to withdraw water, and to address the responsibilities of this commission in the light of new scientific information concerning hydrofracking and drinking water quality. I’ll start by referring to the SUSQUEHANNA RIVER BASIN COMPACT.

The Compacts Policy and Standard states that the Commission should act “in accordance with the best interests of the people of the basin and the states”  and “the commission may assume jurisdiction whenever it determines…. that the effectuation of the comprehensive plan so requires………  the commission may adopt such rules, regulations,  and water quality standards as may be required to preserve, protect, improve, and develop the quality of the waters of the basin.

What is missing from the agenda today is a discussion of the best interests of the people of the basin in “preserving and protecting water quality standard”  in the light of scientific information that has come to light in the past year concerning the risk of fracking to drinking water.

In August 2010, Dr. Philip Landrigan, nation’s leading authority on environmental health impacts on children, testified before the EPA. Dr. Landrigan is Professor and Chair of Preventive Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and heads their Center for Children’s Environmental Health.  He told the EPA

“As pediatricians specializing in environmental medicine, we at The Center for Children’s Environmental Health are opposed to the current use of hydraulic fracturing not only due to the multiple known risks to children’s health, but also due to the substantial lack of research into the health effects of this practice. While this particular void in research is prominent and must be addressed, multiple health concerns have already been brought up by a wide range of individuals and groups, from rural communities to political bodies and environmental organizations to public health experts.”

That was a year ago.

The research void pointed out by Dr. Landrigan in August 2010 has been partially filled, making two things clear. First the information shows that fracking pollutes drinking water. Secondly that the void in our knowledge is even more dangerous and deep, that it appeared a year ago.

Days after Dr. Landrigan spoke, the EPA called a meeting in Wyoming where EPA Superfund Investigators, after studying drinking water contamination from gas drilling, spoke to residents of the town of Pavillion. They told the residents to not drink their water. They were told to leave their windows open when they shower or do laundry to avoid explosion. That might seem almost comical in the northeast in the winter, if it was not so meaningful, and disturbing.

In December 2010, the EPA in Texas filed suit against Range Resources under the Emergency Powers Section of the Safe Drinking Water Act. The EPA scientific staff detailed how Range’s gas drilling activities had contaminated drinking water wells with methane, and powerful carcinogens, including benzene.  US Justice Department is enforcing the Emergency Order in federal court.

In May 2011 in PA, after poisoning the drinking water of 16 families in Bradford County, Chesapeake Company was fined almost a million dollars by the PA DEP. Still there has been no systematic government study of ground water contamination in PA.  And numerous reported cases of livestock illness and death associated with surface spills in PA that have gone uninvestigated by PA government.

In April 2011 the National Academy of Science published research led by Osborne at Duke that demonstrating that the contamination of drinking water wells with explosive levels of methane increased the closer the well is to a fracking site. This was a peer reviewed study—-the first peer review study that investigated the relationship between fracking and drinking water contamination. Neither government nor industry has funded any peer reviewed research on this issue. This study was funded by Duke University.

In July, a PA newpaper quoted Professor Terry Engelder of Penn State concerning drinking water contamination even with new triple cased wells, “as long as the state is finding violations,  you can take the next logical step, which is obviously they haven’t solved the problem.”

This month, NY DEC SGEIS acknowledges the fact that gas drilling poses a serious threat to drinking water, by banning drilling in certain surface water systems (NYC and Syracuse) and groundwater systems. They made a policy decision to protect drinking water from primary aquifers but not other sole source aquifers. This distinction is not based on science or law. This rules would protect the health of 300,000 NY users primary aquifers in the Marcellus region, but not over 800,000 users of non-primary aquifers exposed to the same risks. Many of these 800,000 people are in the Susquehanna River Basin.

What have we heard from industry in the past year?  The same story, that there is no problem, that it is impossible for drinking water contamination to occur from fracking.  Rex W. Tillerson, the chief executive of ExxonMobil, told Congress:

“There have been over a million wells hydraulically fractured in the history of the industry, and there is not one, not one, reported case of a freshwater aquifer having ever been contaminated from hydraulic fracturing. Not one.”

Given the many episode of aquifer contamination identified by government and academics, we know that Mr. Tillerson’s statement is a shameful falsehood. His statement, echoed, and echoed again by the gas industry, is in the sordid tradition of lead paint manufacturers and tobacco companies that for decades, and with full knowledge of risks, denied those risks, and poisoned people hiding behind  fake science and, more relevant to this discussion, government protection to continue their practices.

Most jarring are statements last month from former EPA officials to the NY Times that hundreds of cases of drinking water contamination were known to industry, but investigators were barred from seeing those records, as court settlements sealed these public health impacts and hid them from officials. This information gives us, and you, a fuller idea of the extent of industry’s knowledge of drinking water contamination, and their use of secrecy to hide the extent of the drinking water pollution from public scrutiny.

With what we have learned in the past year, the scales should fall from your eyes. It is past the time when you could say you do not know that the drinking water quality and the health of the people in SRB are under attack by the current policy on hydrofracking.  You have the facts to tell you this process is not safe.  It is also time to acknowledge that you do not yet know the full extent of the threat.

It is time to stop being so credulous with an industry that has consistently lied to you and the public about safety. Frankly, by maintaining the status quo, the Commission runs the risk appearing as puppets of an industry that acts with a shameless and callous disregard to public health.

You are being asked—-to follow the SUSQUEHANNA RIVER BASINCOMPACT’s mandate

“to protect the water quality of the basin in accordance with the best interests of the people of the basin.” You should halt hydrofracking in the SRB, and not entertain resumption until thorough, unimpeded, objective scientific study of drinking water and health impacts is completed.

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From a follow-up interview conducted by e-mail and used with permission:

Hi David,

Thanks for coming up to Ithaca on Friday.

On a separate note, would you mind if I share your experience with fracking with people in Ithaca?  If it’s okay with you for me to do so, I’d also like to confirm what you told me:

1.       Pollution of your well (two wells?). How did this show up?

Bohlander:  We have two wells on the farm (190 acres).  We had a detailed baseline water testing done on both before any of the gas activity happened in our area.  We subsequently have had another 6 or so tests done on these wells.  It is crucial to have certified baseline testing done prior to any activity by gas companies or they will claim there is no proof they are the cause and argue it was a pre-existing condition.  We also retained a very competent hydrologist (who has the gas company clients) who was the plaintiffs hydrologist in the Dimock, PA contamination (highlighted in the movie Gasland).  The well for the barn/and original farmhouse was so contaminated with methane they thought it would explode so the well pump was disconnected for six months and water was trucked in by the gas companies for the animals, and spring water for the humans!

2.       The operations end up being more extensive than anticipated.  The “pads” are large, and end up being used for other operations.

Bohlander:  Gas companies are major deceivers.  They do this many ways. One is using land agents that are not their employees so that they can claim “we never said that ..they did”

Most all the neighbors were told that the gas wells would be drilled, it would take 3 months or so, and then land would be restored to earlier state. In reality this is what happens. They excavate a pad obliterating the natural terrain, hauling in 100’s of trucks of stone, gravel, etc.  Once the pad is completed, they only drill 2-4 actual gas wells of what ultimately are likely going to be 12 or so on that pad.  They may not frack the drilled wells immediately, but wait sometimes a year.  The intention is to refrack over and over the same drilled wells.  They are now claiming there is 60 years of gas here.  Simultaneously, although not on all pads, they use the pads for other things such as equipment storage, frack water storage, and the worst:  frack water recycling which we have three in our neighborhood and 2 are 10 year permits (one is in the review process, 9 days to go).  These are REGIONAL frack water recycling operations bringing in dirty radioactive brine from 15 miles away or more, operating 24/7 with extensive noise, lights and traffic.  DEP is way behind on enforcement.  The neighbors are the enforcers, but it is David vs. Goliath (the gas companies).  After four years now, I have not seen one well pad restored back to the original state.  The stated plan by the gas companies is that there will be one well pad every 50 acres.  If the well pad is 10 acres, 20% of our surface land area will be a perpetual well pad.

3.       Extensive light pollution due to 24/7 operation.

Bohlander:  Re frack water recycling:  They power huge lights that light of the pads for the whole night.  They don’t use street electric but generators which contribute to the noise.  The trucks have large pumps that due to the volume of 5200 gallons per truck are large motors,  the trucks endlessly are using their backup safety beepers, horns for instructions to the ground crew, etc.  The three sites in our neighborhood will generate 800 trucks a day, 1600 with return trip passes.

The gas drilling when it goes on makes it almost impossible to sleep.  24/7, 7 days a week.

4.       Extensive trucking.

Bohlander: The gas companies make new roads over smaller older roads to accommodate their extensive traffic.  The state allows them to exceed the weight limit of the road by paying some fee or posting a bond.  The small country road in front of our farm is now elevated 3 feet in the air from normal ground level.  Certain roads are used as main arterial roads after they have been rebuilt –this happened to ours.  The trucks are hauling huge amounts of gravel, fill, fresh water for fracking and the dirty brine water out, as well as all the equipment for the drilling process.  Each well on the pad uses 5 million gallons of water.  60% flows back and is recycled, but removed from the site.  Our road was destroyed initially and impassible.  The gas companies then closed 10 mile stretches of the road for months at a time as they began rebuilding it.  One landowner could only get to and from his property with a four wheeler.

5.       Feel free to add any other relevant details.

Bohlander:  The gas companies have a very systematic playbook from the years of operating and polluting Colorado, Wyoming, Texas, etc.  They have two sides:  a friendly neighborly “give $35K to the fire company” and then a ruthless no-holds-barred side.   Three times they threatened that in 24 hours they were going to stop trucking in water for the cows in our barn unless we agreed to things.  These things include non-disclosure agreements, consent not to sue, etc.  Read the book Collateral Damage.  A lot of good environmental activist groups with websites and a lot of info.  Many have been to our house.  We were one of the first contaminated sites in this region from the drilling.

The public does not have any idea how bad the permanent environmental contamination is going to be.  There has been major barium and radiation poisoning with some already.  One not far from us is a 13-year- old girl with barium poisoning.  One of our immediate neighbors’ daughters is having clumps of hair fall out and his dog got sick and parakeet died from drinking his well water.  He abuts one of the frack water recycling sites.

Air pollution is the sleeping giant.   Each well pad on an ongoing basis emits things into the air (like toluene) as the gas goes through a preliminary filtering process at the well pad.  The absolutely worst are the gas compression stations for both noise and air pollution.

As you may know, the gas drilling is exempt from the Clean Water Act  — we actually are more apt to be fined if manure is spread on the road, than these major infractions the gas company are doing.  The environmental enforcement agencies only slap their wrists with fines.  Cost of doing business to gas companies –easier to just pay the fine.

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Leaked to un-naturalgas.org:

NYSDOT Draft

Transportation Impacts Paper

on natural gas development in the Marcellus Shale
for internal use with Governor Cuomo’s office and DEC

From the executive summary:

“The potential transportation impacts are ominous. Assuming current gas drilling technology and a lower level of development than will be experienced in Pennsylvania the Marcellus region will see a peak year increase of up to 1.5-million heavy truck trips, and induced development may increase peak hour trips by 36,000 trips/hour. While this new traffic will be distributed around the Marcellus region this Discussion Paper suggests that it will be necessary to reconstruct hundreds of miles of roads and scores of bridges and undertake safety and operational improvements in many areas.

“The annual costs to undertake these transportation projects are estimated to range from $90 to $156 million for State roads and from $121-$222 million for local roads. There is no mechanism in place allowing State and local governments to absorb these additional transportation costs without major impacts to other programs and other municipalities in the State.

“This Discussion Paper also concludes that the New York State Department of Transportation and local governments currently lack the authority and resources necessary to mitigate such problems. And, that if the State is to prepare for and resolve these problems it is time to establish a frank and open dialogue among the many parties involved.”

Click here for OCR’d version.

 

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In its Executive Summary of the revised SGEIS released yesterday, the DEC states clearly that groundwater is at sufficient risk from gas drilling to restrict gas drilling to protect  those drinking groundwater. But they only afford that protection to those drinking from primary aquifers. The DEC leaves the great majority of drinkers of groundwater in the Marcellus unprotected. They have some explaining to do.

I’m looking forward to hearing the DEC’s logic and science—their risk assessment strategy— used to assess that only some drinkers of contaminated groundwater need protection.

Primary aquifers are used as drinking water for some municipalities.

The list is on  on page 5: http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/water_pdf/togs213.pdf

The list includes about 300,000 people in those municipalities drinking water from these primary aquifers in counties in the Marcellus shale. (see attached spreadsheet and chart at bottom.)

Page 18 of the new DEC doc describes the exclusion of primary aquifers. It’s pasted below, bold face added.

No HVHF Operations on Primary Aquifers

Although not subject to Filtration Avoidance Determinations, 18 other aquifers in the State of New York have been identified by the New York State Department of Health as highly productive aquifers presently utilized as sources of water supply by major municipal water supply systems and are designated as “primary aquifers.” Because these aquifers are the primary source of drinking water for many public drinking water supplies, the Department recommends in this dSGEIS that site disturbance relating to HVHF operations should not be permitted there either or in a protective 500-foot buffer area around them. Horizontal extraction of gas resources underneath Primary Aquifers from well pads located outside this area would not significantly impact this valuable water resource.
- http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/administration_pdf/execsumsgeis072011.pdf

As the DEC says, this is in addition to the exclusion of drilling in the watersheds of NYC and Syracuse.

Now, one can make an argument, as the DEC has, that the exclusion of drilling in the NYC and Syracuse water supplies is based on their being unfiltered surface water (as opposed to ground  water), with a risk of “turbidity” from surface drilling activity.  And because there have been rules in place for years restricting industry and development  in unfiltered surface watersheds to avoid having to build  super-expensive filtration plants, as  for NYC.  A more clear eyed assessment of carving out the NYC watershed is that the DEC wants to excise the political opposition of NYC, which could easily create a critical mass of opposition in the state.  But they do have the surface water “turbidity” argument  to fall back on to explain this preferential exclusion, even if politics is the underlying reason.

But when you are dealing with groundwater sources, how can you rationally and scientifically exclude some aquifers and not others? Again, the actual rationale appears overtly political, rather than based on the science or risk.  The DEC is trying to carve out the opposition of the  municipalities drinking from primary aquifers—including Jamestown, Elmira, Cortland, Binghamton, Corning, Salamanca.  After all, these municipalities  are really organized entities of people…….. who would otherwise likely oppose drilling.

Problem is, there are at least 1,140,000 people drinking groundwater in the Marcellus shale.   What’s up, DEC? You’ve determined that groundwater is at risk. You’re going to protect 300,000 people from ground water pollution, but not the other 840,000.

Who are those people? Hello, it’s us, the people of rural NY State who will be drinking from polluted wells. It’s us,  people who will not be receiving equal protection against the very threats that the DEC assesses are too risky for the people of upstate municipalities.

I think I’m going to call my lawyer.

Ken Jaffe, MD
Slope Farms
Meredith, NY
www.slopefarms.com

county percent of population drinking groundwater county population population drinking groundwater population drinking groundwater from primary aquifer population drinking groundwater not from primary aquifer name of primary aquifer
Cortland 100 49,336 49,336 39,000 10,336 Cortland-
Homer-
Preble
Chenango 95 50,477 47,953 47,953
Tioga 90 51,125 46,013 46,013 Waverly-
Owego
Cattaraugus 90 80,317 72,285 72,285 Salamanca
Allegany 85 48,946 41,604 41,604
Steuben 80 98,990 79,192 49,000 30,192 Corning-Cohocton
Broome 80 200,600 160,480 110,000 50,480 Endicott-
Johnson
City
Schuyler 80 18,343 14,674 14,674
Madison 75 73,442 55,082 55,082
Otsego 75 62,259 46,694 46,694
Chemung 70 88,830 62,181 50,000 12,181 Elmira
Yates 60 25,348 15,209 15,209
Genesee 60 60,079 36,047 36,047
Wyoming 55 42,155 23,185 23,185
Chautauqua 50 134,905 67,453 52,000 15,453 Jamestown
Seneca 30 35,251 10,575 10,575
Ontario 25 107,931 26,983 26,983
Cayuga 25 80,026 20,007 20,007
Albany 20 304,204 60,841 60,841
Tompkins 15 101,564 15,235 15,235
Onondaga 15 467,026 70,054 70,054
Monroe 10 744,344 74,434 74,434
Erie 5 919,040 45,952 45,952
Totals 3,844,538 1,141,468 300,000 841,468


Source material

http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/36164.html
http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/water_pdf/305bgrndw10.pdf
http://www.dec.ny.gov/energy/46381.html
http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/water_pdf/togs213.pdf

notes
  • incomplete DEC data on primary aquifer in Cattaraugus and Tioga Counties may underestimate those drinking from primary aquifer by up to 50,000; this could raise the total using primary aquifers to about 350,000
  • incomplete DEC data on total users of ground water does not include Delaware and Sullivan Counties; this could raise the total users of unprotected groundwater to about 950,000

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