Mountainkeeper Opposes New Anchorages on Hudson River

Under pressure from the oil and shipping industry, the U.S. Coast Guard is considering a proposal to establish 43 new anchorages for oil barges along the Hudson River from Yonkers, NY to Kingston, NY. These anchorages would serve the oil industry by creating an outlet for dirty oil arriving by rail into the Port of Albany, and would dramatically increase oil transportation along the Hudson River.

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We are Seneca Lake!

Statement by Wes Gillingham, Catskill Mountainkeeper Project Director at July 18, 2016 Protest

Screen_Shot_2016-07-18_at_11.05.25_AM.png"Seneca Lake and the Catskill Mountains are connected by a pipeline. We are also connected by beautiful surroundings and by communities that have hope for a better future I love where I live! This storage facility here at Seneca Lake would be connected to the Millennium pipeline, which runs through the western Catskills on its way east and south to the CPV gas-fired power plant in Orange County that is now under construction. Two new compressor stations are proposed along the Millennium pipeline located near my home -- plus another connecting pipeline coming directly from the gas fields in Susquehanna county PA."

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NYS Assembly Extends Film Tax Credits to Include the Catskills and Hudson Valley

June 16, 2016

Livingston Manor, NY – The New York State Assembly extended the Empire State Film Production Tax Credit Program to the Catskills and Hudson Valley Wednesday night, a move that will encourage film production in the region and foster economic growth. Mountainkeeper and our members have been strong advocates for the legislation. On March 21st, 2016 we submitted a letter to the Governor requesting the expansion of the Tax Credit to the Catskills and Hudson Valley that was signed by over 30 entertainment professionals including Chevy Chase, Natalie Merchant, Debra Winger, Mary-Stuart Masterson, Mark Ruffalo, Jon Bowermaster and Aidan Quinn. 

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VICTORY! Constitution Pipeline Denied!

The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) stopped the Constitution Pipeline in its tracks today by denying the project an essential approval, known as a water quality certification. This momentous decision protects our communities and environment from a 124-mile pipeline that would have carried fracked gas from PA to Canada. Countless communities, over 1,000 acres of forests and farms, and nearly 300 vulnerable waterways are no longer under threat. This decision represents our most significant victory since the Cuomo administration banned fracking last year.
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Groups Rally in Albany to Save NYS from FERC

April 5, 2016

Groups Rally to Save NYS from FERC
Ask Governor Cuomo to Protect NYS Water by Denying Required Water Quality Certificate for Constitution Pipeline

Albany, NY—Groups from across New York State – and beyond – rallied at the State Capitol today against the bias of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for fracked gas infrastructure projects. They asked Governor Cuomo to use the State’s authority under the Clean Water Act to stand up to FERC by denying the 401 water quality certificate for the Constitution Pipeline.

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Gunther Introduces Legislation to Expand Empire State Film Tax Credit to the Hudson Valley

March 10, 2016

Hurleyville, NY - To boost film production outside of New York City, the 2013-14 State Budget included language to create an additional 10% film tax credit for “Upstate” counties. However, bizarrely, Hudson Valley counties, including Sullivan, Ulster, Orange, and Dutchess, were not considered “Upstate” for the purposes of the credit and have been unable to tap into this lucrative economic development opportunity. 

Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther (D, I,WF-Forestburgh) has introduced legislation (A.9415) to include Hudson Valley counties in the 10% Empire State Film Production Credit program.


WHO: Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, Michael P. Hein, Ulster County Executive, and Ramsay Adams, Executive Director, Catskill Mountainkeeper 

WHAT: Promoting film production in the Hudson Valley with the additional 10% Empire State Film Production Credit Program 

WHEN: Thursday, March 10, 2016 at 3:30 pm

WHERE: Hurleyville Arts Centre 219 Main Street, Hurleyville, New York 12747

Please rsvp to Allison Horan at the Monticello office, 845-794-5807, or horana@assembly.state.ny.us

                                                             ###

Contact: 
Ramsay Adams
845-439-1230

Allison Horan
845-820-2922

 

 

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Governor Cuomo Urges Halt to Construction on Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) Pipeline.

March 1, 2016

Yesterday Governor Cuomo urged the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to halt all construction on Spectra’s controversial Algonquin Incremental Market Expansion (AIM) Pipeline while the New York State Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES), Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), Department of Health (NYSDOH), and Department of Public Service (DPS) perform an independent safety risk assessment. The four agencies sent a letter to FERC requesting that “FERC stay and reconsider its prior determination to grant a certificate of public convenience and necessity to ensure that the health and safety of all New Yorkers is adequately protected.”

Catskill Mountainkeeper strongly supports the Governor in this action. The AIM pipeline, opposed by many local communities and their elected officials, would have disastrous effects on New York State, surrounding areas, and the planet. It would bring toxic fracked gas through New York communities, threaten the Indian Point Nuclear Facility, and exacerbate climate change, wreaking havoc on communities and the environment throughout the construction process.  

“We are especially encouraged by the joint agency approach to the independent safety risk analysis,” said Jessica Roff, Programs Manager for Catskill Mountainkeeper. “We hope this signals the administration’s understanding that all fossil fuel infrastructure decisions have wide-ranging implications that go well beyond just energy access or environmental impacts. That, in fact, a comprehensive and cumulative assessment of such decisions is necessary, and that to perform an appropriate assessment  the government must consider public health, safety, and environmental issues together. We will be watching the process closely to see how the agencies implement this incredibly important task.”

Contact:  Jessica Roff, Catskill Mountainkeeper 202-321-0020

 

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Advocates Ask Governor to Reject Constitution Pipeline

February 18, 2016

Albany, NY—Advocates gathered at the State Capitol today to denounce the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) disregard for New York State authority by prematurely approving  mass tree cutting along the 25 mile Pennsylvanian route of the proposed Constitution Pipeline. On January 29, 2016, the day after it denied a rehearing request from multiple advocacy groups, FERC gave the pipeline company permission to cut down trees along the Pennsylvania section of the pipeline route, even though the company does not have all the federal permits it needs to start construction.  The project would cut a 100-foot wide swath through five counties in New York and Pennsylvania; disturb more than 1,859 acres of land; cross multiple public drinking water supply sources, three watersheds, and more than 250 water bodies; and affect more than 90 acres of wetlands.  In particular, New York State has not granted this project a required water quality certificate under the Clean Water Act.  If this certificate is denied, the pipeline could not be built and the gratuitous destruction of trees in Pennsylvania would be for naught.

Legal filings by, Catskill Mountainkeeper, Clean Air Council, Delaware Otsego Audubon Society, Riverkeeper Inc., Sierra Club, Stop the Pipeline and NY Attorney General Eric Schniederman appear to have temporarily prevented tree clearing in New York while the DEC continues to review water quality permits.  “FERC stated in its recent Order that the Company “cannot cut vegetation” prior to receiving ALL federal authorizations,” said Anne Marie Garti, an attorney associated with Stop the Pipeline and volunteering with the Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic.  “Allowing the pipeline company to cut trees along 25 miles of the route before New York State makes a decision is a tragic example of FERC operating outside of the law.”

Contract loggers working for the Williams Pipeline Company have already cut 100-foot swaths of trees in over nine miles of forest along the Pennsylvania pipeline Route.  Of particular concern is the Holleran family’s North Harford Maple Syrup Farm, in New Milford, PA.  The tree felling will obliterate the core of their business-- 1,670 linear feet through their sugar bush that is currently outfitted with spiles and collection lines for syrup production. Many supporters of the Holleran family are gathering daily at the site where the cutting is to take place. On February 10, logging crews and representatives of Constitution tried to access the property, calling the Pennsylvania State Police for assistance. After talking with Megan Holleran the police refused to intervene to allow tree felling. But, it is uncertain how long this reprieve can last.

"Our family has owned this property for generations that includes maple trees that we tap for a family maple syrup business, North Harford Maple," said Maryann Zeffer, resident of the property and co-owner." But when the gas companies came in they lied to us about their intentions. Now they are trying to bully us into building their pipeline across our property. All we want is for them not to cut our trees and harm our business. At the very least they should have to wait for full approval for the entire pipeline before they get to cut our trees. They do not have that approval now."

On February 5th, the Sierra Club and Clean Air Council filed a motion for a stay of tree cutting until pending lawsuits against FERC’s larger permitting review are settled. It is uncertain if such a stay will be granted. 

“Governor Cuomo and  DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos can put an end to this broken FERC process by denying the 401 water quality certificate right now,” said Roger Downs, Conservation Director, Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter, “The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has held that a State is authorized to deny this certificate even after FERC has approved a project, particularly when there is overwhelming evidence that there will be chronic violations to the Clean Water Act as a result of the project.”

The groups ask Governor Cuomo to be a true climate leader by stopping the pipeline project now.

“The New York DEC warned FERC from the start that the construction of the Constitution Pipeline would be problematic to water resources and forested ecosystems – but that concern fell on deaf ears,” said Wes Gillingham, Program Director for Catskill Mountainkeeper.” Governor Cuomo should push back on the rubberstamped permits and premature tree cutting approvals by denying the 401 water quality certifications now. He can protect our water from this flawed pipeline proposal.  It’s the right thing to do.”

Contact: Anne-Marie Garti (718) 601-9618

Wes Gillingham, Catskill Mountainkeeper  (845) 901-1029

Roger Downs, Sierra Club (518) 944-0992      

 

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Catskill Park Advocates Go To Albany for Funds

Advocates For the Catskill Park Descend on Albany to Lobby for Desperately Needed Resources

LIVINGSTON MANOR, NY Catskill Mountainkeeper and our partners in the Catskill Park Coalition will be heading to Albany on Tuesday, February 9th, 2016 for the Catskill Park Awareness Day. We will deliver a petition with over 1,648 signatures to Governor Cuomo calling for the state to direct urgently needed resources to the Catskill Park—the crown jewel of our region, and one of the largest and most ecologically diverse natural areas in the East.

Mountainkeeper and our partners also will be meeting with members of the state legislature and other government officials to encourage them to allocate essential funding to help maintain and improve the park’s infrastructure. In addition, we will urge decision makers to provide the same kind of investment in marketing to help grow tourism in the Catskills that has been enjoyed by other regions of NY State.

When Governor Cuomo traveled to the Catskills in October 2015, he committed to invest in building tourism in our region. The Catskill Park Coalition applauds the Governor for his focus on the Catskills—one of the largest tourist attractions in the Northeast--and we will be asking the Legislature and government officials to direct money for the Catskill Park.  The Park has been neglected for years, and is in dire need of resources to fund essential repairs and improvements that will help more people enjoy these spectacular wild lands, and preserve them for future generations.  The Catskills region is experiencing a surge in public attention to its unique attractions--from farms and food to fishing and eco-tourism—and we will urge decision makers to keep this momentum going by investing in the region.

According to Ramsay Adams, Executive Director of Catskill Mountainkeeper and Co-Chair of the Catskill Park Coalition: “The Catskill Park has experienced years of financial neglect.  Administration after administration have passed over the Catskill Park and focused on other regions in New York State. But thanks to the leadership of Governor Cuomo and the elected representatives whose districts include the park, it’s the dawning of a new great era for the region. We are optimistic that the 2016 budget will finally include real investment in our beloved Catskill Park.”

The Catskill Park Coalition has identified $5 million in immediate and urgent funding priorities to ensure that the park can be maintained and enhanced for public use. These include $1 million in aid to localities for planning, infrastructure, and grants to Catskill towns; $2 million for stewardship, including support to fill Forest Ranger vacancies, expand Park oversight and maintenance, and counteract degradation due to increased visitorship; and $2 million for capital projects (including improvements at the Catskill Park Interpretative Center) and the acquisition of priority land parcels to knit public lands together for more recreational opportunities and increased access to the Catskills.  The commitment of these funds would cover only a small part of what is needed to realize the full recreational and economic development potential of the Park, but it would be a good beginning, and would help establish the base for increased funding in the future.

"The Catskill Center is proud to co-chair the Catskill Park Coalition and excited for another successful Catskill Park Awareness Day. Through these efforts we can continue to build a modern park that protects our state's leading legacy of first-in-the-nation conservation, stewards our natural environment and sustainably supports our region's economy," says Jeff Senterman, Executive Director, Catskill Center.

Adams concluded: “On February 9th, a large contingent of Catskill Park supporters representing dozens of organizations that make up the Catskill Park Coalition will descend on Albany to deliver a petition with over 1,648 signatories to Governor Cuomo and to meet with legislators and representatives of the Governor to ask that $5,000,000 of State funding be allocated to the Park as a first installment in an ongoing campaign to expand the recreational and economic value of this extraordinary New York State asset.”

The Catskill Park Coalition is an alliance of likeminded groups committed to working together to broaden public appreciation for the Catskill Park and seek additional resources to enhance, maintain, and make available to the public the extraordinary opportunities the Park and its surroundings offer and can offer.  www.catskillparkcoalition.org 

Contact: Ramsay Adams, Executive Director Catskill Mountainkeeper

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Crude-by-Rail Clean Air Suit

NEWS RELEASE: February 3, 2016

BROAD COALITION CHALLENGES CLEAN AIR VIOLATIONS AT ALBANY CRUDE-BY-RAIL TERMINAL

Cite environmental justice impacts to public housing residents adjacent to Global facility

ALBANY, NY -- A broad coalition consisting of the County of Albany, a tenants association, and several environmental groups filed a lawsuit today in federal court charging that a major crude-by-rail conglomerate is operating in violation of the Clean Air Act. The lawsuit claims that Global Companies failed to obtain a required air pollution permit and institute necessary pollution controls when it modified its Albany, New York facility in 2012 to allow a five-fold increase in the amount of crude oil handled at the facility. The lawsuit also claims that Global has violated a permit issued by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation by handling crude oil from the Bakken region of North Dakota, which emits more air pollutants than conventional crude oil. The lawsuit seeks an injunction requiring the company to apply for the required air pollution permit and prohibiting the facility from handling Bakken crude oil, and asks for fines of $37,500 for each day that Global has operated in violation of the Clean Air Act.

The Global facility is located in Albany’s South End, which is home to residences, schools, churches, businesses, and social service agencies. The facility is directly adjacent to Ezra Prentice Homes, which has approximately 400 residents, including over 200 children. Albany’s South End has been designated an “environmental justice area” by DEC, meaning that it is an area that bears a disproportionate impact of adverse environmental impacts.

“The families who live at the Ezra Prentice Homes should not have to be exposed to hazardous air pollution from Global’s operations,” said Charlene Benton, president of the Ezra Prentice Homes Tenants Association. “The polluted air makes us sick and that’s just not right. We are going to court today to be granted the basic right to breathe clean air.”

“It has been nearly two years since Albany County instituted a moratorium in response to the concerns raised by South End residents,” said Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy. “That moratorium was aimed at stopping Global’s plan to expand their existing operations, and to force compliance for a full environmental impact review under state law. The purpose of this lawsuit is to compel Global to comply as well with the requirements of federal law, specifically the Clean Air Act. I believe that we will prevail in this case and that Global will be required to operate its facilities at the port in a way that ensures the protection of all of the residents of Albany who may be harmed by Global’s noncompliance.”

The pollutants emitted by Global’s operations include a variety of hazardous air pollutants, including benzene, a known human carcinogen. Pollution from the Global facility also contributes to the formation of ground-level ozone, which is known to cause respiratory problems such as asthma, harmful cardiovascular effects, and premature death. The people living at Ezra Prentice -- as well as numerous other residences, businesses, health care facilities, parks, churches and schools in Albany’s South End that are in close proximity to Global’s Albany Terminal -- are at risk from breathing in toxic air with excessive levels of ozone.

“Global has operated its massive crude-by-rail terminal with no regard for the health and safety of the hundreds Ezra Prentice residents who live on the facility’s doorstep, and the thousands who live, work, and go to school within blocks of the Global facility,” said Earthjustice attorney Christopher Amato. “Today’s lawsuit seeks to protect the South Albany community from Global’s air pollution and hold the company accountable for its repeated violations of the Clean Air Act.”

"Since 2012, Global has unjustifiably quadrupled the amount of highly volatile crude oil it handles at its Albany facility based on a misrepresentation of the amount of air pollution that this expansion would cause, impacting both residents and those who work in the Albany metro area,” said Kate Hudson, Riverkeeper Director of Cross Watershed Initiative. “Our citizen's suit challenge to Global's failure to comply with the requirements of the federal Clean Air Act is crucial not only to protect the health of Albany residents and visitors alike, but also to protect the Hudson from a major oil spill as a result of the vast increase in crude oil being shipped from Global's facility, a spill that would jeopardize 50 years of work to restore the river."

“Global claimed in its application that they would handle conventional crude oil during marine loading operations, and a permit was issued based upon that information,” said Roger Downs, conservation director, Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter. “But instead, Global has imported large quantities of Bakken crude oil, which is extremely volatile and emits significantly more VOCs than conventional crude oil. This continuing violation of air quality laws has to stop.”

“Global simply has no authority to handle Bakken crude oil, which not only emits high levels of pollutants, but is dangerously flammable,” said Mollie Matteson, a senior scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Global must be held accountable for its total disregard for human health and safety, and the well-being of our environment."

“Global tried to sneak more highly polluting crude oil into this community by hoping a major expansion of its facility would fly under the radar,” said Dan Raichel, staff attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Today’s suit will hold these polluters accountable. The oil industry cannot get away with reckless disregard for the laws that protect clean air and residents’ health.”

"Global has not met the basic requirements of the Clean Air act, and this threatens the people of Albany and beyond," said Wes Gillingham, Program Director for Catskill Mountainkeeper. "Global has tried to hide the volatility of the Bakken crude oil. By doing this they disregard the health, environmental and safety risks they pose to New York communities. Global should not be allowed to continue."

The citizen suit was filed by Earthjustice, a nonprofit environmental law firm, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York on behalf of the Ezra Prentice Homes Tenants Association; the County of Albany; Sierra Club; Center for Biological Diversity; Riverkeeper, Inc.; Scenic Hudson; Natural Resources Defense Council; and Catskill Mountainkeeper.

ONLINE VERSION OF THE NEWS RELEASE AND LINK TO THE COMPLAINT:http://earthjustice.org/news/press/2016/broad-coalition-challenges-clean-air-violations-at-albany-crude-by-rail-terminal

CRUDE-BY-RAIL ACROSS AMERICA OVERVIEW WITH INTERACTIVE MAP: http://earthjustice.org/features/map-crude-by-rail

CONTACTS:

Christopher Amato, Earthjustice, 518-860-3696, camato@earthjustice.org

Mary Rozak, Office of the Albany County Executive, 518-368-9528, mary.rozak@albanycounty.com

Charlene Benton, Ezra Prentice Homes Tenants Association, (518) 472-0201

Roger Downs, Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter, 518-426-9144, Roger.downs@sierraclub.org

Cliff Weathers, Riverkeeper, 914-478-4501, ext. 239, cweathers@riverkeeper.org

Mollie Matteson, Center for Biological Diversity, 802-318-1487, mmatteson@biologicaldiversity.org

Kate Kiely, Natural Resources Defense Council, 212-727-4592, kkiely@nrdc.org

Wes Gillingham, Catskill Mountainkeeper, 845-439-1230, wes@catskillmountainkeeper.org

 

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