Help Keep the HIA in the Budget

Don’t Let the Governor Get Away with Taking the Fracking Health Impact Assessment Study Out of the State Budget

Last night New York State released a final draft of the section of the budget that should have included a Health Impact Assessment Study on fracking, but despite the study’s inclusion in the budget submitted by the Assembly, it was absent from the final version.

This flagrant omission prompts us to ask the question, “Does the Governor really care about our health?”

These actions are particularly egregious in light of the medical evidence that is coming out warning about the dangers of fracking.  Just last week researchers at the Colorado School of Public Health reported the results of a 3-year study that shows that air pollution caused by fracking may contribute to acute and chronic health problems for those living near natural gas drilling sites.

Researchers found a number of potentially toxic petroleum hydrocarbons in the air near gas wells including benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene and xylene. The report calculated higher cancer risks for residents living nearer to wells as compared to those residing further away. Benzene has been identified by the Environmental Protection Agency as a known carcinogen.

Lisa McKenzie, Ph.D., MPH, the lead author of the study and a research associate at the Colorado School of Public Health said, “Our data shows that it is important to include air pollution in the national dialogue on natural gas development that has focused largely on water exposures to hydraulic fracturing.” She cited the need for additional studies to also examine the toxicity of other hydrocarbons associated with natural gas development.

Catskill Mountainkeeper and our coalition partners have organized a call-in day on Wednesday, March 28th to tell the Governor that he needs to do his job to protect our health and the health of our communities.

Please call, have the members of your family, your friends and colleagues call and tell Governor Cuomo to reinstate the Health Impact Assessment Study of Gas Drilling into the State budget and call for a statewide BAN on fracking.

On Wednesday, please call 866-584-6799.

Catskills Agriculture – Area Resources and Events!

Celebrate and Support our Area Agriculture by Attending These Exciting Upcoming Events!

Catskill Mountainkeeper is pleased to support the following agricultural programs and events that are being presented by our partner organizations.  They include workshops for farmers and landowners on evaluating land for agricultural use and increasing land access for farmers, informational sessions for producers on how to better market your products, training for garden educators, and a workshop series on how to get the most out of your organic garden.
Please come out to join us in supporting these fun, informative, and important efforts.

Land Access Workshop Series for Farmers and Landowners

Wednesday, March 21 from 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
eCenter, 5-1/2 Main Street, Delhi
Thursday, March 22 from 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Duggan Community Center, 3460 State Route 55, White Lake

Landowners and farmers are invited to the Catskills FarmLink Introduction to Evaluating Land for Agricultural Use & the Basics of Land Leasing workshops being held in Delaware and Sullivan Counties on March 21 and 22. Catskills FarmLink is an online land access resource, connecting farmers looking for land with property owners interested in maintaining a viable working landscape.  The workshop addresses two commonly asked questions: 1.) How do I evaluate my land for agricultural use, and 2.) How do I develop a land lease?

A presentation by Dale Dewing, field crop educator and Watershed extension team leader with Cornell Cooperative Extension, will focus on how to evaluate land for agricultural use.  In a panel discussion of landowners and farmers on lease agreements and food and farm law expert, Jason Foscolo, will provide guidance and examples of personal experience with land leases.

Additional workshop details are available on the Catskills FarmLink website. The workshops are free to attendees and RSVP is requested, as space is limited.  To RSVP for the workshop or for a free legal consultation with Jason Foscolo LLC, email or call Sonia Janiszewski at 914-720-1020.

Farm to Market Connection
Sunday, March 25
9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
CVI Building
Liberty, NY

Join Pure Catskills, Catskill Mountainkeeper, and other area organizations, businesses and individuals for a day of networking and education about the most current topics in direct marketing.  Gather with local food advocates from across the region including farmers, retailers, restaurateurs, specialty food producers, distributors, farmers’ market staff and economic development practitioners.  Buyers of all types will be present from local retailers to regional distributors.  Educational topics will suit the interest of vegetable, livestock and dairy producers. The Farm to Market Connection is the perfect way to get the growing season off to the right start!
For ticket purchases, click here.
For more information on this and other Pure Catskills’ events, please check out their website.

Take Root! Training for Garden Educators
Wednesday, May 9, 2012 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM
CCE Sullivan County
64 Ferndale-Loomis Rd. Liberty, NY
Fee: $50.00 includes lunch

Cornell Cooperative Extension Sullivan County’s Master Gardener’s Program is pleased to announce a new training for county educators and youth workers. Session 1- Plant a Seed, Inspire Interest. This is an introduction to garden based learning. All the information is research based. It connects gardens to all sectors of work and education. In this class, you will learn how to develop a garden program that promotes positive youth development, opportunities for leadership and community and volunteer participation, and review tips on effective teaching methods. An in depth overview of Cornell Garden-Based Learning (CGBL) will be reviewed. Groups new to garden- based learning or groups struggling to get participants involved in their efforts and program structure will particularly benefit from this session.

Session 2 -Tend the Garden and Session 3- Building Capacity/Train-the Trainer will be offered at a later date

For more information on these and other programs of Cornell Cooperative Extension, call 845-292-5220, or check out their website.

Workshop Series – The New Approach to Organic Gardening

Sundays, 1:00 pm – 3:30 pm
Domesticities & The Cutting Garden
4055 State Route 52, Youngsville, NY

March 18 (Design), April 15 (Propagation), May 2 (Soil), June 4 (Maintain and Enjoy!)
Work with nature to nurture your garden into becoming productive and beautiful by using organic methods and permaculture design techniques.  Four sessions take you step by step to start a permanent, low maintenance system of production for food, flowers, and trees based on the natural system of the forest.  This will be a hands-on course with emphasis on individual attention and will be taught by certified permaculture instructor, Maria Grimaldi, and assisted by Anne Hart.

To learn more about the series and to register, contact Anne Hart 845-482-3333, or Maria Grimaldi 845-482-4164.

This program is sponsored by NOFA-NY.  To learn more about NOFA-NY and it’s programs, check out the website.

Mortgages for Drilling Properties May Face Hurdles

In a March 18, 2012 New York Times article, “Mortgages for Drilling Properties May Face Hurdles”, Ian Urbina reported that the Department of Agriculture is considering requiring an extensive environmental review before issuing mortgages to people who have leased their land for oil and gas drilling.  This proposal by the Agriculture Department reflects a growing concern that lending to owners of properties with drilling leases might violate the National Environmental Policy Act, known as NEPA, which requires environmental reviews before federal money is spent. For more about the problems homeowners may face when trying to get a mortgage on land with a gas lease, please see our “Mortgage Problems” section.


Low doses of endocrine disruptors can have big effects

Low doses, big effects: Scientists seek ‘fundamental changes’ in testing, regulation of hormone-like chemicals
March 15, 2012, Environmental Health News
Maria Cone

Small doses of chemicals that are endocrine disruptors, which have been identified as being present in fracking fluid can have big health effects. That is a main finding of a new report, three years in the making, published on March 14, 2012 by a team of 12 scientists who study hormone-altering chemicals. Dozens of substances that can mimic or block hormones are found in the environment, the food supply and consumer products, including plastics, pesticides and cosmetics. One of the biggest controversies is whether the tiny doses that most people are exposed to are harmful. Researchers led by Tufts University’s Laura Vandenberg concluded after examining hundreds of studies that health effects “are remarkably common” when people or animals are exposed to low doses. “Fundamental changes in chemical testing are needed to protect human health,” they wrote.

America’s Fossil Fuel Fever

America’s Fossil Fuel Fever
March 19, 2012, The Nation
Michael T. Klare

This article explains why our nation’s push to use unconventional methods such as hydraulic fracturing to get fossil fuels will actually make us more vulnerable in the long run because it will postpone the ineveitable transition to a postcarbon economy.  It says, “sooner or later, the economic, environmental and climate consequences of intensive fossil fuel use will force everyone on the planet to abandon reliance on these fuels in favor of climate-friendly renewables. This is not a matter of if but of when. The longer we wait, the more costly and traumatic the transition will be, and the greater the likelihood that our economy will fall behind those of other countries that undertake the transition sooner. By extending our dependence on fossil fuels, therefore, the current oil and gas revival is not an advantage but, as Obama said in 2008, a threat to national security.”

Falling prices devastate boom towns

March 14, 2012, Greenwire
As the price of natural gas falls to a 10-year low, energy companies are fleeing gas fields across the country and leaving behind areas that had once boomed from the industry.

In Louisiana’s DeSoto Parish, a traditionally poor area, companies started popping up after the 2008 discovery of the Haynesville Shale. But the drilling rigs in the parish have dwindled from 54 a year ago to just 24 last week. And as the drillers depart, so does the money they spent in the community.

Hotels and recreational vehicle parks built to accommodate energy workers sit empty, restaurants have seen sales collapse and local landowners have seen their royalty checks from drilling companies fall by half. Sales tax revenue for the parish and the school district has begun to fall.

“We are expecting it to continue decreasing,” school superintendent Walter Lee said. “We just don’t know when it’s going to level off.”

A similar trend is playing out in areas from Texas and Arkansas to Pennsylvania and Wyoming, as companies turn from natural gas to oil.

“Natural gas is just killing us right now,” said Bill Mai, co-chairman of Wyoming’s Consensus Revenue Estimating Group. “The bigger problem is we don’t foresee quick turnaround, unless pretty much the whole country goes into an ice age at this point” (Daniel Gilbert, Wall Street Journal [subscription required], March 13). – JE



Negative impacts on human health have accompanied gas drilling using hydrofracking wherever it has been done. Despite that, the permit conditions proposed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to “govern” fracking makes little mention of the health impacts of fracking.
That is why Catskill Mountainkeeper and our coalition partners are demanding that the legislature require that an independent comprehensive Health Impact Assessment (HIA) be done prior to any further discussions of shale gas.
In October 2011, 250 physicians and medical professionals wrote a letter to Governor Cuomo calling for a comprehensive public health impact assessment. This was sent because the concerns outlined in a previous letter sent to The department of health and the Governor were clearly ignored in the draft Supplemental generic environmental Impact statement (SGEIS) .
A health impact assessment, which is defined by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences, “INCLUDES MANY TOOLS THAT HELP ENSURE THE VALIDITY OF THE FINDINGS AND HAVE MULTIPLE PLACES FOR PUBLIC INPUT TO THE DOCUMENT.”
This will tell New Yorkers what the “true” costs of gas drilling are.
Certainly the risk to the human and animal health in New York State justifies that such a health Impact assessment be done.
On Tuesday our allies in the Assembly worked to have this attached to the budget as a resolution.
Now the industry is pushing hard to have it removed.
The Cuomo administration keeps calling for science not emotion. This is the science. Call Assemblyman Sheldon Silver today!
Thank him and ask him to continue the fight to keep a Health Impact Assessment in the Budget. It is very important that he hears from you now.
New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver Contact Information:

District Office

Albany Office