Join the Moovement!

KEEPING IT CATSKILLS!

Catskill Mountainkeeper’s Food Initiative has had a productive year and we’d like to share Cow-Graphicsome of our successes with you.  We increased food access through the development of new farmers markets, expanded the Catskill Edible Garden Project, and facilitated mentorships for emerging farmers through regional partnerships.  We are committed to our proactive programmatic work to support sustainable economic growth for our region and to strengthen and nurture healthy communities and local business.

Here are some of this year’s highlights from our Catskill Food Initiative:

Youth, Food, and Agriculture
 

CEGP-NOFA-photo-copyThrough our Catskill Edible Garden Project (CEGP), we have partnered with local schools to create fruit and vegetable gardens; improving student access to healthy, local foods. By growing their own food, students built confidence and self-esteem while learning life lessons about good nutrition and career options in agricultural or food-related businesses.

Just finishing its second season, the project has engaged hundreds of community members on garden build days at seven gardens across Sullivan County. Garden clubs have been set up, and teachers are integrating important lessons about food production, healthy eating and the importance of local food systems into the classroom.  Some schools have even been serving student-grown garden produce in their cafeterias.

The workforce development component of the project has employed 12 local youths in summer work, giving area students the chance to learn how to grow, harvest, process, and prepare garden produce, which they distributed to local families and food pantries.

CEGP is a partnership between Catskill Mountainkeeper, Sullivan Renaissance, and other local organizations. You can learn more about the project and see additional photos here.

Food Access

In October, Mountainkeeper wrapped up its first full season managing a new Catskills farmers’ market, located in the Sullivan County capitol of Monticello. The market improved access to healthy food for low-income residents and others, by connecting them with farmers and artisan food makers from our region.

Monticello-Market---EmWhile it’s the hub of an agricultural county, Monticello is a USDA designated ‘food desert’ – meaning a community without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food – and its residents suffer some of the worst health statistics in the state.

Working with area partners, Mountainkeeper opened the only market in the county to be approved by the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program.  Participating farmers were certified by the program, meaning they could accept vouchers provided to low income families and seniors under federal programs like the WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, which provides aid to women, infants and children.
In addition to making fresh, healthy produce available, many of the markets offered recipe tastings and demos using local and seasonal produce, and provided information about health and nutrition.

As a result of the market, we saw a significant increase in voucher redemptions for fresh fruits and vegetables.  Next year, we plan to expand this popular program to build on this year’s success. To get involved, please click here.

Farm to Table Dinner 

CMK-Neversink-GuestsThis summer, more than 300 patrons attended our second annual farm-to-table supper at beautiful Neversink Farm.  We were thrilled to welcome back James Beard Award-winning chef, Patrick Connolly, who prepared another delicious feast with thoughtfully-sourced ingredients from some of the Catskills’ finest farms and food producers.

By committing to purchase locally grown and processed foods, we allow farmers and producers to receive a higher profit margin, as they are able to eliminate many of the transportation and distribution costs associated with more geographically distant sales.  Enabling local sales and food distribution allows farmers to develop relationships within their communities – whether that be with individual customers or local restaurant/business owners.

For more information on this and other on-farm events, please click here.

To learn more about other Catskill Food Initiative programs, partnerships and resources, and ways to get involved, click here.

CFI Image

Go Take a Hike!

Now More than Ever, Eco-tourism is Key to Reviving Tourist Industry

by Ramsay Adams
ramsay@catskillmountainkeeper.org
Has it been long since you wanted to tell someone to “Go take a hike?”
That’s something we love to do at Catskill Mountainkeeper.  Our trail systems, and even our backcountry roads, in Sullivan County and the Catskills are some of the best in the nation.And over the last year, Trailkeeper.org, part of our Trailkeeper Network® initiative, has been a big part of our work to promote eco-tourism.  Trailkeeper.org is a great online resource for hiking trails and local area attractions and amenities in Sullivan County that has drawn the attention of eco-friendly tourists, and encouraged them come to our area.
Trailkeeper.org was developed by Catskill Mountainkeeper, in partnership with the Delaware Highlands Conservancy, the Sullivan County Planning Department, the Sullivan County Visitors Association, Cornell Cooperative Extension and Morgan Outdoors.  Launched last year, Trailkeeper.org has proven a big success, attracting hikers from all over the NYC Metro area and the nation.  It also encourages the use of multi-purpose trails in the Catskills by promoting eco-friendly activities such as hiking, biking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing.TrailKeeper.org contains area trail maps, hiker hints, tips and photos, recommendations for specific trails, information about local shops, lodgings, restaurants and attractions.  It makes Sullivan County’s extensive network of trails more accessible and promotes the Catskills as a striking destination for eco-tourists.
For local residents, many who never realized what great trails and public lands were only minutes away from their homes, the website has also helped to enhance their quality of living and their regard for the local environment, which is key to our great country living style.
Remember, while the big news around Sullivan County this month was that the Gaming

Amendment passed in  New York State and we are likely to be the site of at  least one casino, we can’t forget the importance of promoting eco-tourism in our Catskill Mountain region.  That’s not only in terms of preserving our beautiful, but fragile ecology, but also in attracting potentially millions of non-gambling tourists to stay and spend in our region.

To be blunt, eco-tourism still remains the key to reviving our tourist industry in Sullivan County.   It’s very important to build on the success of initiatives like Trailkeeper.org.  That’s what’s truly going to grow the influx of tourists to Sullivan County.How lucrative is eco-tourism?  Here’s some proof: The Audubon Society has reported that in terms of bird-watching in New York alone, 3.8 million people watch birds and other wildlife, and generate approximately $1.6 billion in ecotourism revenue annually.
So it’s just not going to be solely casinos that are going to help build tourism and our local economies.  It’s continuing to build on the success of initiatives like Trailkeeper.org where visitors will spend important tourist dollars in our hamlets and villages instead of self-contained destination resorts.
Catskill Mountainkeeper is one of many environmental groups that works hard to educate and promote open space protection and environmental preservation.  An important strategy in this quest is to inspire and assist local businesses, chambers of commerce, and tourism associations to develop successful strategies and programs to market their natural resources such as hiking, biking, fishing, and other activities.
We will continue to build on the sucess of our Trailkeeper Network® initiative.  In the meantime, go to Trailkeeper.org and figure out where and when you are going to take a hike!
Additional support for Trailkeeper.org comes from the Upper Delaware Council, Sullivan Renaissance, the New York New Jersey Trail Conference, the National Park Service, Sullivan County Community College Hiking Class, and many volunteers.
Ramsay Adams
Executive Director
We Need Your Support.  You can make a safe and secure donation through our website or PayPal by clicking on one of the links below.  We also need volunteers!
 

or send a check to: Catskill Mountainkeeper, Box 381 Youngsville, NY 12791

Use Your Camera to Help us keep the Delaware River Watershed Frack-Free!

Photo Courtesy of Heron's Eye CommunicationsWill you take a picture of a special place in the Delaware River Basin that you don’t want destroyed? Or a picture of your family, your friends, your pets, or an important “reason to protect” the Delaware that you are willing to share with the officials at the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), who will ultimately decide the fate of our treasured river valley?

 Every photo will be printed and included in a scrapbook that we will present to the Commissioners at their December 3rd public meeting, and you are welcome to join us.Please snap a photo of a special place you don’t want destroyed, a picture of your family, your friends, your pets, or an important “reason to protect” that you want to share with these officials who have maintained this moratorium.

 

IMPORTANT: Submit your photo no later than November 22nd to our partner, the Delaware Riverkeeper, at: debra@delawareriverkeeper.org to make sure we can include it in the scrapbook.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION

TODAY – New York Needs Your Vote!

VOTE ‘NO’ on Propositions 1 and 5

Today is election day – a day where we can use our American right to get out and vote for the people and issues that are important to us and represent our vision for our communities and country.

For New York State voters, there are some important referendums up on the ballot, which have the potential to dramatically shift the quality of life for New Yorkers, and set dangerous precedents for the way we preserve and protect our land.

Catskill Mountainkeeper encourages New Yorkers to vote ‘NO’ on the following two ballot propositions:

PROPOSITION 1 – Referendum on Gambling and Casino Development in NYS

What is it?
  • The passing of this proposition would permit the development of SEVEN Las Vegas-style casinos in the state, and could pave the way for an additional THREE casinos in NYC in the next few years.
Why vote ‘NO’?
  • While proponents of the referendum say they will bring about a badly needed boost to the local economy, overwhelming evidence from neighboring states proves otherwise.
  • The truth is, casino development results in pervasive negative environmental, social, and economic problems for the communities in which they are located.
  • For more information on Proposition 1 and additional reasons why you should vote ‘NO’, please click here.
PROPOSITION 5 – Transfers of Forest Preserve Lands
What is it?
  • This proposition seeks to transfer 200 acres of “forever wild” forested lands to NYCO Minerals, Inc. – a mining company that operates a 250-acre mine bordering the Forest Preserve.
Why vote ‘NO’?
  • In addition to destroying Forest Preserve property – much of which contains 150-200 year old growth forest – the passing of Proposition 5 would set a dangerous precedent for the future of forever wild Forest Preserve lands in the Adirondack and Catskill Parks.
  • The Forest Preserve exists to protect important natural resources. To exchange Forest Preserve lands purely for economic purposes flies in the face of “forever wild”, which was established to protect and preserve the most ecologically valuable lands in the state.
  • There has never been an amendment to the constitutional article authorizing the use, lease, sale or the exchange of these lands to benefit private commercial enterprise, and the passing of this proposal would set a terrible precedent enabling exactly that.
  • Join Catskill Mountainkeeper and a broad coalition of other conservation groups – including NRDC and The Sierra Club – to vote ‘NO’ on this important proposition.
  • For more information on Proposition 5, please click here.

The stakes are too high to sit this out! Get to your polling location today and cast your ‘NO’ vote on Propositions 1 and 5.

We Need YOUR Comments Now to Stop the Gas Industry!

Don’t Let the Gas Companies Build Their Invasive Infrastructure

The fracking fight in New York appears to be at a stalemate with Governor Cuomo not yet signaling a clear decision against fracking.  Can he avoid succumbing to industry pressure to frack New York?
   Compressor Station on Federal Road, Erin, NY

Certainly the gas industry is betting that he cannot.  They have been quietly drafting plans to cover our state with an infrastructure to bring natural gas to market – with much of it projected to be shipped overseas where the prices are higher.  This is why it is so important for you to take immediate action and submit your comments today on the prosposed regulations which would permit Liquified Natural Gas facilities of any size throughout the state.  Our colleague, Sandra Steingraber, has once again made this process streamlined and effective with herReturn of 30 Days: The Infrastructure Regs. She will be collecting comments for the 30 day period and then submitting them to the New York State Department of Conservation.

The gas industry’s plans to create a massive infrastructure in New York means that the people who would be affected by drilling are not just those who live in the upstate areas where fracking might be approved, but EVERYONE who lives near a toxic and potentially explosive pipeline, compressor station, or Liquid Natural Gas storage facility.  There are currently over 53 proposed or approved gas infrastructure projects across the State, including several in New York City and its suburbs.

To keep natural gas in a highly pressurized state for travel through pipelines, compressor stations are located every 40 to 100 miles along the route to market.  Compressor stations have been documented to cause air, water and noise pollution.  Studies from air around compressor stations have shown extremely high levels of carcinogens and neurotoxins.  Lisa Jackson, former Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has said in relationship to other fracking infrastructure, “You are going to have huge smog problems where you never had them before.”   High levels of ozone (smog) have been shown to have a direct correlation to an increase in asthma and other respiratory diseases. You only need to look to Pennsylvania – where gas companies have constructed over 450 compressor stations in five years - to see how quickly and extensively gas drilling can impact communities.

The full picture of the complexity and invasiveness of this infrastructure in New York has yet to emerge, but we are seeing a very disturbing pattern; industry scrambles to build a massive web of pipelines, compressor stations, and Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) facilities to reach new markets here and overseas so they can drive up the price of gas.  We must prevent the industrial build out of New York State, which threatens hundreds of communities. 

This coming year will be the most critical in our fight and will determine once and for all whether or not New York will get fracked.  Right now we are asking you to take action on three issues:

#1 – The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)’s insufficient proposed regulations to govern Liquid Natural Gas plants in New York State.  Comment period deadline November 4, 2013.

#2 – Plans to use abandoned salt caverns under Seneca Lake for natural gas storage.  Comment period deadline October 16, 2013.

#3 – The Port Ambrose Liquid Natural Gas port that would connect ocean-going ships to proposed on-shore infrastructure. Although the scoping comment period has ended, Governor Cuomo can still veto it.

To help you take action on these three issues, our colleague Sandra Steingraber is replicating her tremendously successful campaign for commenting on New York State’s fracking regulations and will send you an email once a day for the next Thirty Days when you sign up to participate.  She will explain each issue and offer the background science so that you fully understand why building this infrastructure is so wrong for New York. Please make your first comments now! 

Mark your calendars to come to the public hearings and rally in Albany on October 30th from 10 am – 12 pm to comment on the the NYS Liquid Natural Gas regulations.

As we’ve said, the coming year will be the most critical in our fracking fight.  In addition to participating in this campaign, we strongly urge you to educate and involve your friends and family.  Please send them this email and ask them to join us.

Colorado Flooding – Could it Happen in NY?

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 Colorado Flooding – Environmental Catastrophe

If fracking is permitted in NY, it could happen here

The scope of the environmental disaster in Colorado from the epic flooding is still unfolding.  The latest from Colorado’s regulatory agency is that they are working feverishly to access the damage and potential leaks to its 50,000 oil wells.  So far they have calculated that 34,500 gallons of crude have spilled and that dozens of condensation tanks that hold the chemically laden wastes from fracking have overturned and have potentially leaked into the floodwaters. At least one pipeline has been confirmed broken and leaking.
This has created a short and long term health crisis of yet undetermined proportions.
Colorado’s lax regulations don’t require that drillers release the names of chemicals used in
WELD COUNTY, CO. – SEPTEMBER 16: A drilling derrick near Greeley stands in land flooded by the South Platte River. (Photo By Tim Rasmussen/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
fracking fluid but it is known that they are linked to diseases and medical conditions that include cancers, infertility, autism, diabetes and thyroid disorders and that chronic illnesses from exposure to these chemicals can take many years to manifest.
Catskill Mountainkeeper has been warning for years that future floods in New York could lead to catastrophe if fracking is approved because of the probability of toxins from fracking waste getting into our water supply.
Wes Gillingham, Catskill Mountainkeeper Program Director, was quoted by CBS News last week as saying, “This is a real concern. We were talking about it two years ago.  People need to understand what kind of contamination has happened on the local level in Colorado and what health impact it has. To see this come to life on such a large scale in Colorado is both terrifying and humbling.”A tragedy of the magnitude of the Colorado flooding eviscerates the theory that if New York allowed fracking we could protect ourselves from this kind of devastation by being smarter or having better regulations.  While the proposed regulations for New York – the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) – appear to be better than the regulations that govern in Colorado, there is no way they could address a calamity like the Colorado flooding.

The most recent version of the SGEIS even allows open waste pits, contrary to what the public was originally led to believe, although they call them centralized facilities.  The Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) only nod to public concern about open waste pits is a note in the document that says that they believe that the gas industry will not use them.
Widespread flooding covered the Catskills after hurricane Irene in 2011. Schoharie County, above.
The  SGEIS seeks to protect from flooding in 100 year flood plains, but as we’ve seen from the recent storm in Colorado, climate change is making storms that were previously categorized as 500 or even 1,000-year storms the “new normal”.Even if the proposed regulations were stringent, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation has major manpower shortages, and in multiple cases over the last year the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has shown an unwillingness to deal with fracking pollution.

We are seeing that the gas industry is not immune from the destruction that its activities have helped to create.  We are in a vicious cycle – we are burning fossil fuels and releasing carbon into the air, which is accelerating climate change and increasing the intensity of storms like the one that caused the flooding in Colorado.  But there is a better way – we don’t have to put our planet at risk to get our energy. We can change our paradigm to renewable energy choices such as solar, wind and geothermal that are rapidly becoming cost competitive and practical.

Please join us in sending messages to President Obama (click here for sample message) andGovernor Cuomo that fracking is the wrong choice for New York and our country and implore them to take whatever political risks are necessary to develop clean energy solutions.


Check us out and stay connected!

  

JOIN CATSKILL MOUNTAINKEEPER AND NEW YORKERS AGAINST FRACKING TO TELL PRESIDENT OBAMA AND GOVERNOR CUOMO DON’T FRACK WITH OUR CLIMATE!

This week is a very important moment for us to tell President Obama in person the truth about fracking – that it can’t be done safely, it poisons water and people, and it spells disaster for the climate. Unfortunately, President Obama has turned a blind eye to the science on fracking and the thousands of victims across the country.

Now, President Obama is doing a two-day bus tour through upstate New York, and we’re organizing to rally outside of his events to demand no fracking in New York, the Delaware River Watershed, or anywhere in America. This is a really important opportunity to stand up for the people of Wyoming, Texas, Pennsylvania and all the people in the U.S. who have had their air, their water and their very lives fouled by the oil and gas industry.  Please do everything you can to join us in Binghamton!

These are the details we have:

Buffalo:
 Thursday morning, August 22 at the University of Buffalo Alumni Arena. Click here to join the Facebook event page.

Syracuse: Thursday, August 22. Click here to join the Facebook event page.

Binghamton: Friday morning, August 23 at Binghamton University. Click here to join the Facebook event page. We will be meeting next to the Glenn Bartle Library Tower on campus. It is the tallest building and is easy to spot, and should be visible to the media and hopefully the President’s motorcade.

We recommended parking at the Technology Center, 101 Murray Hill Road, between 8-8:30am. Finding parking after 9:30am will be very difficult.

There is the option to park on campus, but be forewarned: it will be difficult to find spaces. No cars are allowed in or out the main entrance from 10am-3pm and the two limited access points will probably be jammed.

This is going to be a long day. Please bring adequate food and water, comfortable clothing, and appropriate footwear.

Bring your signs, voices, and conviction that we can and will win a ban in New York State and eventually, nationally. The science, facts, truth, and best interests of all Americans are on our side, and it’s time the President stops acting under the influence of the oil & gas industry and instead takes heed of the science and truth.

Click here for a map of the University Campus, which details parking locations and the rally.

Thanks for joining us at Barnfest! Check out great video footage, photos, celebrity interviews and more!


Thank you for joining us on a beautiful summer afternoon in Woodstock!

Over 1,500 Mountainkeeper supporters came together on a gorgeous summer afternoon to celebrate what we all love about the Catskills.  Everyone at Mountainkeeper had a wonderful time, and we hope you did too.  Click on the links below for great video footage, photos, radio interviews and articles.

To see a great highlight video of Barnfest, click here.

To see beautiful photos of Barnfest, visit our Facebook page.

Above: Catskill Mountainkeeper board member ,Joshua Ginsburg, PhD, and family with Parrots for Peace.

Hear Jayni and Chevy talk about Barnfest, the environment, and their personal ties to Woodstock in an engaging interview on wdst, Radio Woodstock.

And just a few of the many wonderful articles about Barnfest:

“Chases honored, Woodstock celebrated at Barnfest” – by Deb Medenbach, Times Herald Record.

“Barnfest to Feature Music, entertainment and stars in Woodstock” - by Lynn Woods, Weekly Almanac.

“Chevy Chase talks Woodstock, Bard College and the environment” – interview with Chevy Chase by John Barry, Poughkeepsie Journal.

THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO HELPED MAKE BARNFEST A SUCCESS!

and A SPECIAL THANKS TO OUR LEAD SPONSORS:

Action Alert: Stop the Industrialization of NY!

Gas industry touts energy independence, but builds infrastructure for export

Despite the gas industry’s patriotic declarations of energy independence in their relentless ad inundation in radio, print, and TV media, it appears they have a different plan when it comes to natural gas.  The gas companies are pressing forward with aggressive development for a massive infrastructure that will allow these companies to export natural gas overseas – enabling these billion-dollar corporations to tap into lucrative international markets and drive up corporate profit even further.

The scale of the planned infrastructure projects is enormous.  In New York alone, there are currently seven major pipelines (Blue Stone, Constitution, Mark Connector, Millennium Phase I, Rockaway, and Spectra), a gas storage facility at Seneca Lake, multiple compressor stations including ones in Hancock and Minisink and a Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) processing facility, the Port Ambrose project, to be placed in the ocean off of the coasts of New York and New Jersey, which are in various stages of the approval process.

If the gas industry’s plan succeeds, the big winners will be the stockholders of the natural gas companies and the big losers will be the rest of us.

WE NEED YOU TO ACT NOW!

  1. Stop the Ambrose Project! A LNG processing facility in the waters off New York and New Jersey, with its threat to water and air quality is totally unacceptable. Governor Cuomo has the power to veto the application permit.PLEASE CALL THE GOVERNOR at 518-474-8390 or 212-681-4580 and ask him to protect the environment and people of New York State by vetoing the “Port Ambrose” LNG processing facility.

  2. Register your disapproval of the Port Ambrose project by submitting your comments here,
    or 
to:
    U.S. Department of Transportation
    Docket Management Facility
West Building
    Ground Floor,  Room W12-140
    1200 New Jersey AvenueSE
 Washington, DC 20590Refer to docket number USCG-2013-0363, and tell the DOT that the Ambrose Project is a major threat to our oceans, air, and water quality, and health, and will exacerbate climate change.Comments are due by August 22, 2013, so submit yours’ today!
  3. Tell Your U.S. Representative to vote ‘NO’ on the “HR 1900 National Gas Pipelines Permitting Report Act”
The “HR 1900 National Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act” would fast track approval for all interstate gas pipelines by requiring that the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee (FERC) process applications within only one year, and is slated to come before the full House for a vote soon. This new time limitation would more than halve the time that FERC would have to study the impact of each infrastructure project and, if passed by the full Congress, would result in severely limiting public comment and almost guarantee the approval of infrastructure projects prior to conducting critical due diligence.
    WE MUST STOP THIS BILL!
    Please write to your Representative and tell them to vote “NO” on HR 1900.

We’re well acquainted with the dire environmental and health consequences of drilling and fracking for gas in local communities, but proposals like the LNG facility in the waters off New York and New Jersey and the proposed pipelines and compressor stations would bring these hazards to every community through which the gas would be transported, causing contamination and leaked methane – the main component of natural gas – which is a potent greenhouse gas.

Today, Catskill Mountainkeeper is joining Earthjustice, Riverkeeper, Clean Act Council, Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, and the Sierra Club to file extensive comments to urge the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to deny the application for the Constitution Pipeline. Building a massive natural gas infrastructure is the wrong choice for New York and our country.  It must be stopped. Catskill Mountainkeeper is fighting hard to raise awareness of the dangers of continuing along this treacherous path and is advocating for renewable, sustainable energy choices.

2013 HYDRO-FRACKING DAY OF ACTION

JOIN MOUNTAINKEEPER AND OUR ALLIES TO PASS A TWO-YEAR MORATORIUM ON FRACKING

Come to Albany on May 22 for a Fracking Lobby Day!

We need action on Fracking! In response to overwhelming public pressure, legislation was introduced in both the Assembly and Senate to enact a two-year moratorium on fracking until a comprehensive health impact assessment can be completed. The Assembly has all ready passed it, and now it is time for the Senate to pass the bill and the Governor to sign it into law! Join us on May 22 to tell our legislators we want a health impact assessment and a two-year moratorium!

Schedule
9:00am – 9:30am registration/check-in (w/coffee and bagels)
9:30am – 10:30am briefing
11:00am – 3:00pm lobby visits
3:00pm drop off report forms/check-out

Sponsors:

Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy * Catskill Mountainkeeper *Center for Environmental Health * Citizens Campaign for the Environment * Delaware Riverkeepr Network * Earthworks * Environmental Advocates of New York * Natural Resources Defense Council *NYPIRG *Riverkeeper * Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter * Southern Cayuga Anti-Fracking Alliance

To become a sponsoring organization please contact Katherine Nadeau, EANY at knadeau@eany.org.

Questions or problems with registration? Contact hydrofracking@citizenscampaign.org.