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Catskill Mountainkeeper is a community based organization dedicated to creating a flourishing sustainable economy in the Catskills and preserving and protecting the area’s long term health.  Mountainkeeper is a not-for-profit 501c3 organization.


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DRBC HEARS US AND CANCELS VOTE TO OPEN UP THE DELAWARE RIVER BASIN TO GAS DRILLING

The DRBC cancelled its meeting on November 21 where it was going to vote on opening up the Delaware River Basin to gas drilling. While all the facts are not yet in, it looks as if they cancelled because they just didn’t have the votes to approve. The DRBC is made up of representatives of 4 states – NY, NJ, PA and DE, plus a federal representative. They need 3 out of 5 votes to pass any measure. Prior to the meeting we knew that NY was planning to vote NO, and the day before the meeting Governor Markell of DE said that he was planning to vote against it.

THIS IS A HUGE WIN FOR THOSE OF US WHO WANT TO PROTECT OUR WATER, AIR, LAND AND HEALTH FROM FRACKING

Clearly the action that thousands of you took impacted this decision. We’ve won this battle, but we still need to win the war. There will be a rally and activist training workshops this Sunday and Monday in Trenton. Visit the Delaware Riverkeeper Network site for more information.

WE NEED YOU TO KEEP UP THE PRESSURE AT THE COMING NEW YORK DEC HEARINGS

We have a great start.  According to the Wall Street Journal, at the Binghamton DSGEIS hearing yesterday our nearly 1000 anti-gas activists outnumbered the pro gassers by 4 to 1. At the Dansville hearing anti-gas activists outnumbered the gassers by the same margin. It’s important that we carry this momentum into the 2 last hearings on the permit conditions that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is proposing to govern fracking in all of New York State.

Please come to Loch Sheldrake, NY on November 29 and New York City on November 30.  Click here for the dates and times of the dSGEIS hearings.

IMPORTANT: If you plan to attend and/or testify
click here for a summary of the major flaws in the dSGEIS to help you prepare.

If there is any way that you can get to either or both of these, please join us. We’ve seen what our combined actions can accomplish. Please help us to move ahead.

To let Governor Cuomo know that we don’t want fracking to ruin our health and our environment, please join our “DON’T FRACK FRIDAYS” call campaign.  Please call the Governor’s office, (518) 474-8390,  EVERY Friday to let him know that you don’t want fracking in New York State.

Forward this message to your friends, family and neighbors and ask them to forward it on.  Get educated, especially about the health issues and threats.

The Catskill Mountainkeeper website is here as a resource for you, please use it.


AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM MICHELLE WILLIAMS

As our state leaders move closer to allowing unsafe drilling across New York, the time to stand up against fracking is now.

I’m writing to you today because as concerned residents of the Catskills, we cannot stand by and watch as our water, our air and our health are threatened.  We cannot afford to take a backseat and watch as our vibrant lands and communities are turned into an industrialized fracking site.  The price that each of us will pay is too great.  We have only to look as far as our neighbors in Pennsylvania to see what a fracked future will look like for us.

Like many of you, I have been to Albany. I have stood outside the Capitol with hundreds of you who have been tirelessly fighting to protect our great state of New York from the dangers of fracking. I have met with our elected officials and articulated my opposition to the destruction and pollution it would bring to our state.  And I have heard the stories of devastation from around the country – some from neighboring communities just over the border in Pennsylvania. CLICK HERE TO READ THE ENTIRE MESSAGE

Please make your voice heard and please support Catskill Mountainkeeper.

Thank you.

-Michelle


HOW GAS DRILLING THREATENS TO LOWER YOUR PROPERTY VALUES 

If you have a gas lease, your neighbor has a gas lease or if you live in a community that has a lot of gas leases, it is likely that the value of your property will decrease and it may become almost impossible for you to sell your home. This is because almost all banks and insurance companies consider gas-leased land to be an unacceptable risk and will not give mortgages on or refinance properties that are leased or have gas wells.

In today’s New York Times Ian Urbina examines these issues in depth:

"But bankers and real estate executives, especially in New York, are starting to pay closer attention to the fine print and are raising provocative questions, such as: What happens if they lend money for a piece of land that ends up storing the equivalent of an Olympic-size swimming pool filled with toxic wastewater from drilling?" Click here for the complete article "Rush to Drill for Natural Gas Creates Conflicts With Mortgages", NYT

Lenders such as the FHA (Federal Housing Administration) and the Department of HUD (Housing and Urban Development) will not provide financing if surface or sub surface gas rights have been leased within 300 feet of a residential structure OR within 300 feet of property boundary lines.   This can affect you if one or more of your neighbors has leased, even if you haven’t, and can also affect you if you are subject to New York State’s compulsory integration laws, which allow wells to be drilled under your property if 60% or more of the property adjacent to you has gas leases.


Experts say that the inability to get mortgages for pending residential sales will eliminate as much as 90% of potential purchases. This dynamic will create a dramatic negative impact on property values due to their lack of marketability and therefore demand. As real estate values decrease, assessment rolls will be impacted and ultimately the tax base.  Some local communities will likely have no choice but to raise taxes to pay for the shortfall.

Communities are already seeing a softening of home sales as buyers are holding off making any investment until the issue of fracking is resolved. Ulster County real estate brokers report that the potential of hydrofracking is hurting their important second-home buying business. 
The permit conditions and regulations that the New York State DEC has released to govern hydraulic fracturing (the dSGEIS) makes little mention of how fracking will devalue property and lower tax assessments, nor does it provide any remedies to those affected.  In fact Section 6.8.3.4 of the Document says about Propert Values:

"At this level of analysis, it is impossible to predict the actual impacts of developing the Marcellus and Utica shale natural gas reserves on individual property values. However, some predictions can be made with regard to the general impact of mineral rights on property values and the impact of well development on adjacent properties.

Revised Draft SGEIS 2011, Page 6-250, 6-251."

This is only one of the many problems and issues that will affect you, your family and your community.  Click here to see a summary of what’s wrong with the DEC’s plan, and click here to submit written comments to the DEC.Tell Governor Cuomo and your legislators NOT to let fracking destroy your property values.  Click here to send them an email


There are a number of very important public hearings coming in November.  It’s critical that we get a huge turnout at each one.

            November 16 – Public Hearing on the dSGEIS – Dansville, NY

            November 17 – Public Hearing on the dSGEIS – Binghamton, NY

            November 21 – DRBC Hearing – Trenton, NJ

            November 29 -  Public Hearing on the dSGEIS – Loch Sheldrake, NY

            November 30 – Public Hearing on the dSGEIS – New York City


Click here for the dates and times
 of the dSGEIS hearings, and here for more information on the DRBC hearing.  Use the  Catskill Mountainkeeper website as a resource. Get educated, especially about the health issues and threats.

Join over 3,600 people to ask Governor Cuomo and DEC Commissioner Martens to extend the comment period on the dSGEIS to 180 days so a thorough review can be done. Sign our petition

Forward this message to your friends, family and neighbors and ask them to forward it on. Get educated, especially about the health issues and threats.

We are now in the end game.  Your support is needed now more than ever.  Please give as generously as you can.


IS THIS WHAT YOU WANT FRACKING TO DO TO YOUR COMMUNITY?

Do you know what the direct impact of fracking will be on your family’s health, your personal finances, the value of your real estate and your local community’s ability to deliver services in the future?  Hear the compelling story of what has happened to one family and their farm.

We’re quickly moving toward the endgame on fracking In New York State.  New Yorkers only have until December 12, 2011 to comment on the proposed regulations that will govern gas drilling using hydraulic fracturing In New York State.  After that, unless we act together, we can expect drilling permits to be issued in early 2012 and drilling to start soon thereafter.

While many of you have followed the fracking issue with interest and concern, we’re worried that you don’t have enough understanding of how the commencement of drilling will directly affect you.  So over the coming weeks we’ll be sending you information about exactly how drilling can impact you, your family and your community. We’ll also outline how to take action and tell the DEC what’s wrong with their plan.

Today we would like to offer you the opportunity to learn from the first person account of Libby Foust. Libby is a resident of the Finger Lakes region of New York State. There is no question that what happened at Libby’s farm in Bradford County PA is going to happen in the Finger Lakes, the Catskills and all over New York State. Here’s her story:

Libby Foust“Our family farm is in Bradford County, Pa.  Our farm was one of the ?first well sites chosen and is now one of hundreds, soon to be thousands.

When the folks in Pennsylvania first heard of the wells coming, they were excited. No one had ever experienced the drilling business, so there was nothing to fear. They had toiled their whole lives just to make ends meet, and maybe this was the road to a better life. ?

Then they came. Trucks by the hundreds, tankers, dump trucks, drilling rigs, fracking rigs. Five-acre drilling pads were bulldozed in the middle of farmers’ best fields, million-gallon ponds were installed, roads were built, woods and fields were trenched and bulldozed for tie lines. Drilling rigs went up at an unbelievable rate. From one spot on our farm, I counted eight? rigs. ?Then the generators started. You could hear them a half-mile away. Then the pumping stations — small, industrial sites with buildings and pipes ?sticking up out of the ground.

They put one of these at the end of our little dirt road. Now the woods are gone and the dirt road is a main thoroughfare. ?One entire field is a pumping station. When I first saw this, I cried. ?This industry is like a swarm of locusts, leaving destruction and a ?lasting impact on the environment.

But it goes much deeper than this. It creates greed and pits neighbor against neighbor, even dividing families. Back home, all rental properties now house gas people, as the landlords raised the rents so high that longtime tenants were forced to move. Every parking area is lined with pipes and equipment associated with the gas business. Roads have been destroyed and are barely passable. Motorists are being forced off ?the road by a steady stream of big rigs and trucks. People who are used to a few cars going by their house now have to endure 100 tractor-trailers a day. I went up to our well site and counted 80 tankers lined up so closely that you couldn’t fit between them.

The gas companies do put on a good show. They have a nice booth at the ?fair. They buy bicycle helmets for the kids. They pay to have the walkways at ?the fairgrounds paved. They are always presenting a check for this and a check for that. Their pictures are always in the paper for doing good deeds. ?What a joke. That’s Bradford County. ?

The Finger Lakes area has been blessed with so much natural beauty — the ?gorges, the lakes, the vineyards. We have so much to protect. We want our fields to be green so our children can walk through them. We need our water to be clean, not only for ourselves but for our livestock and marine life. ?If they start drilling, what’s going to happen to the water in our lakes? ?What’s going to happen if there is a drilling accident and people’s homes ?start filling up with methane gas? Don’t think it can happen? In northern Pennsylvania, it already has. ?I urge you to protect this area, its residents, its natural beauty and our way of life from the ravages of the gas industry.”


Now is the time to act to protect your health, home and community.

The DEC is accepting comments to the regulations that they propose will govern gas drilling using hydraulic fracturing in New York State – - and there are many, many things wrong with these regulations including:

· No adequate assessment of the impact to local roads and bridges, the impact on rental prices or the impact on the environment

· No comprehensive, focused plan to analyze the cumulative impact of a full build out of gas wells

· Inadequate protection of drinking water

· No health assessment

Please take the following actions:


·  Click here to tell the DEC what’s wrong with their plan  by submitting written comments on the SDGEIS.

·  Click here for a more detailed analysis of the major flaws in the DEC’s plan.

· Plan to go to as many of the public hearings scheduled by the DEC as possible:
Dansville, NY  – November 16
Binghamton, NY, November 17
Loch Sheldrake, NY, November 29
New York City, November 30

A huge public presence is especially important at these meetings.  Click here for times and locations.

· Forward this message to your friends, family and neighbors and ask them to pass it on. 

· Use the Catskill Mountainkeeper website as a resource. Get educated, especially about the health issues and threats.

· Sign on to our petition;  Join over 3200 people who have already signed asking Governor Cuomo and DEC Commissioner Martens to extend the comment period to 180 days so a thorough review can be done. 


FLOODING AND FRACKING – A DANGEROUS COMBINATION

Another Big Reason Why Fracking is Wrong for New York State, Learn the Facts and Take Action Now


For the past two weeks disastrous flooding has overwhelmed our region. Imagine the catastrophe that would have taken place if the floodwaters that raged through our communities carried the waste from hydraulic fracking. Not only would the waters have destroyed everything in their path, the residue would have left highly dangerous toxic chemicals and radioactivity. On top of the damage and suffering we have already experienced, we would also be dealing with the health impact of the poisoning of our water, land and air.

Unfortunately, Pennsylvania is experiencing horrible and dangerous conditions that create important lessons for us in New York. This picture of a flooded wellpad in Pennsylvania is triggering the very threats that we have outlined above.


The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) proposes to ban well pad development in 100 year floodplains, but there’s a critical catch – they acknowledge that the flood maps are out of date, have been unreliable in the past, will not be updated until late 2012 after permitting is proposed to begin – and we all know first hand that 100 year floods are now happening in places they never have before.   

Lastly, the dSGEIS was released after much of the recent rains and floods – and after the Governor and the DEC toured many of the affected areas. In the face of this graphic illustration of the threats of flooding and fracking the report was still rushed out to meet an artificial deadline and not withheld until this new data could be included as logic, sensibility and caution would dictate. As a result there is not a single reference to recent 2011 storm events in the entire dSGEIS, even in the section entitled “Analysis of Recent Flood Events”.   In fact this section of the report that deals with the potentially most serious issue related to fracking is ONLY 2 PARAGRAPHS and only references floods from 2004 and 2006 in one sentence.  Prior to Hurricane Irene there have been at least six deaths in the Sullivan County area in past five years blamed on flooding (see "Flooding is Deadly as County Gets Drenched" Sullivan County Democrat, October 5, 2010).  This willful attempt by the DEC to ignore the most critical issue around fracking is shameful.

Green-lighting fracking now and under the conditions proposed by the DEC will create a runaway train. Six months or a year from now when it becomes all too clear that New York is becoming the next Pennsylvania, it will be too late! The New York Times said Monday that the Governor’s administration “must not rush the process of creating detailed regulations that will be crucial to reducing risks to the environment.”

At this point, the only way to prevent being railroaded is to rally public opinion and let the Governor and the DEC know that New Yorkers do not want to repeat the tragic mistakes we have seen elsewhere and do not want to endanger our families’ health. 

The link between fracking and increased rates of asthma, infertility, ADHD, autism, diabetes, thyroid disorders, brain disorders, many types of cancer and other health conditions is documented, real and what you will be facing.

Based on extensive study and scientific evidence, Catskill Mountainkeeper has called for a ban on fracking because there is no safe way to do it. Nonetheless, we are working as hard as we can within the existing process to raise critical issues, pursue the best options available and widen the discussion of the impacts of drilling.

With each passing day the importance of acting right away becomes more urgent – so please act today:  
 

1.     Forward this message to your friends, family and neighbors and ask them to forward it on. Get educated, especially about the health issues and threats.  Please use the Catskill Mountainkeeper website as a resource.

2.     Help us obtain signatures by health professionals to a letter asking the Governor and DEC Commissioner to rectify the omission of the study of human health impacts in the dSGEIS.  For full text of the letter click here; if you are a health professional click here to sign on.

3.  Sign our petition to ask Governor Cuomo and DEC Commissioner Martens to extend the comment period to 180 days.

4.  Commit to going to as many of the public hearings as possible so that the force of our numbers will help the Governor see that New Yorkers don’t want dangerous fracking.  We will notify you when the dates and locations are announced.  

5.  Call President Obama TODAY at 202-456-1111 or 202-456-1414 to tell him to reinstate the Safe Drinking Water Act and that you do not want Fracking. If the phone lines get jammed, send him a message here


Taking a challenge has never tasted this good. This month, make a commitment to go local! CMK partner, NOFA-NY, has launched a ‘Locavore Challenge’ for the month of September. To register and for more information – including fun challenges, area events and recipes – click here http://www.nofany.org/events/ny-locavore-challenge


Hurricane Irene Devastates Catskills Communities- Here’s What You Can Do

Hurricane Irene wreaked havoc across the east coast this past weekend– devastating homes, farmland, communities and businesses from North Carolina to Vermont.  Here in the Catskills, we have witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of Sunday’s record-breaking flood.  Flooded main streets from Sullivan to Schoharie Counties, thousands of homes without power, and water-logged fields, drowning out crops at what is traditionally the most productive point of the growing season. [For more information on the storm’s effects on NY farmland, check out this New York Times’ piece "After Irene, Upstate New York Farmers Suffer in Flood Plain" http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/31/nyregion/after-irene-upstate-new-york-farmers-suffer-in-flood-plain.html?_r=2&src=tp&smid=fb-share ]


LUCKY DOG FARM, HAMDEN NY (click to watch video)

New York State got the brunt of the storm, and our region was hit particularly hard – of the 191 people who were rescued in NYS, 129 of them were from the Catskills.  President Obama has declared NYS a federal disaster area, making emergency funding available to people in the counties of Albany, Delaware, Dutchess, Essex, Greene, Schenectady, Schoharie, and Ulster. Applications can be made starting Thursday at http://www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY).


Stay Engaged:
One of the best things that has come from this disaster is that our communities have come together to help one another. The Watershed Post – a Catskills-based online news source – has emerged as the leading resource for information, pictures, and stories about the hurricane and subsequent floods. They have set up a live-blog providing real-time updates on storm effects and recovery http://www.watershedpost.com/tags/hurricane-irene


Help Out:
The ‘Catskills Irene Relief Resources’ website has a listing of emergency relief efforts – including referrals for donations and volunteer opportunities – organized by county http://irenerelief.forumotion.com/

NOFA-NY (Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York) is working to mobilize groups of volunteers to assist in area farm cleanup and relief efforts.  For more information or to volunteer, please contact Lea Kone (email: Lea@nofany.org / phone: 585-271-1979 ext. 502


Come Support
:

This weekend, the Belleayre Music Festival will be holding it’s final concert of the season, and has turned the event into a benefit for victims of the flood. Bela Fleck and the Flecktones

will be performing at Belleayre on Saturday, Sept. 3 at 8 p.m. The board of Directors of the Belleayre Conservatory, which operates the festival, has decided that all net proceeds from this concert will be donated to assist the flood-relief effort. Chairman of the Board Joe Kelly said that making the concert into a benefit for flood victims was a natural decision for the conservatory. "Our mission is to benefit the Catskill Region. At this moment, there is no beter way for us to help fellow community members than by contributing what we can in the wake of the this tragedy."  Click here for tickets or additional information http://www.belleayremusic.org/

Our thoughts are with those across the region who are struggling to recover in the aftermath of the Irene. We ask you to please stay engaged and consider volunteering – be it food, shelter, money, clothes or time – to assist in these recovery efforts.


THE EMERGING FACTS ABOUT THE NEW NATURAL GAS PERMITTING CONDITIONS

WHY NYS WON’T BE PROTECTED AND WHY A BAN IS NOW THE ONLY SOLUTION


On July 8, 2011, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) released its draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Study (dSGEIS) – the proposed permitting conditions for the hydraulic fracturing of horizontal wells in New York State. 

While the dSGEIS may appear at first glance to be a significant improvement over the previous document (released by the DEC in 2009), Mountainkeeper’s investigation into the text’s fine print has identified massive deficiencies.  These include failing to present a mitigation plan for the inevitable public health impacts associated with fracking, and a blatant disregard to adequate drinking water protections.

Additionally, this document presents the industry with a clear road map for fracking in the Catskill Park, the Delaware River Watershed, and throughout the Southern Tier of New York. 

The reality is that NO amount of regulation, NO amount of permitting guidelines, and NO amount of laws and ordinances can protect our water and communities from a reckless industry as long as our regulatory industries continue to lack the staff and resources they need to properly enforce such mandates.

Catskill Mountainkeeper believes that the only option to ensure protections for all New Yorkers is to ban hydraulic fracturing in New York State.  We recognize that the process to approve fracking may go forward, and if it does, we will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that New York State receives the most stringent environmental regulations possible.


Some of the issues:
 

The Handling of Toxic Wastewater Still a Major Problem

The plan by the DEC to track the solid and liquid wastes that are generated in connection with fracking sounds positive until you read that they are leaving the tracking of these wastes up to gas industry operators. We’ve all seen what happens when the industry is asked to police itself.  Even more upsetting is that the DEC is still not classifying some of the waste that normally qualifies as hazardous, as hazardous, meaning that fracking waste could be sent to treatment facilities that are unable to properly treat it.

 

Protection of Primary Aquifers is only for a Limited Time

The DEC is proposing to prohibit fracking in primary aquifers that serve as public drinking water supplies but this “prohibition” is only limited to a couple of years after which the state could “reconsider” the bans. In addition, the DEC does not lay out the conditions under which “reconsideration” would be reviewed.

 

Bans on Drilling in State-Owned Land Inadequate

The ban on drilling in state-owned lands looks good until you read that while the state will prohibit well pads above ground they will allow drilling under these same lands.

 

Plan to go ahead before a Rulemaking Process is in Effect

The document lays out a rulemaking process that would formalize its proposed safeguards in a single set of uniform, legally enforceable regulations, which is critical, but in a totally backward move they have said that they would begin processing permit applications before the rulemaking is finished.

 

Cumulative Impact Requirements Incomplete

References to how an area would be affected by the cumulative impact of many, many wells is only addressed for some aspects of that cumulative impact but the DEC has failed to lay out a comprehensive, focused plan to review and analyze the consequences of a full build out.

 

Regional Areas of Geological Risk Not Protected

The DEC has not addressed fracking in areas of special geological risk, such as those with fault lines that are potential pathways for the upward gradient of contaminants into aquifers because they claim that contaminants can’t rise into aquifers. However, independent scientific studies have proven that upward migration of contaminants is not only possible, but also likely. The DEC based their assertion on industry studies that looked at just 5 days in the fracking process.

 

Open Waste Pits Not Outlawed

The DEC has sidestepped banning deplorable open waste pits because they say that the gas industry has asserted that they are unlikely to use open pits for the storage of wastewater. Instead of prohibiting open pits out right, which should be done, they have proposed a system where a lone DEC employee could grant approval without doing an individual environmental impact study.

So what’s next?
 

We are waiting for the dates to be released for the public hearings that the DEC will schedule to collect comments on their plan.


GETTING A LARGE TURNOUT TO THESE HEARINGS IS CRITICAL.

Catskill Mountainkeeper will alert you as soon as we know the dates and locations of these meetings and we urge you to plan to be there.

Click here to read our New York Times letter to the editor explaining our position on fracking published on July 13, 2011.


Mountainkeeper Calls For A Statewide Ban on High-Volume, Hydraulic Fracturing in New York State

July 1, 2011

Up until this point, Catskill Mountainkeeper has operated under the good faith that our leadership in Albany has been working on behalf of all New Yorkers – an assumption that was harshly rebutted in light of recent events. Today, the D.E.C. is releasing recommendations for regulations on high-volume hydraulic fracturing in New York State, which would allow for drilling in 85% of the state’s Marcellus shale formations and fails to offer protections for the Delaware River Basin and the private lands in the Catskill Park.

It’s clear from the summary released yesterday that the Administration is intent on laying out a roadmap to enable aggressive high-volume fracking to be done in New York State, and we refuse to endorse a process that is blatantly and fatally flawed. We know what happens in areas where hydro-fracking has been done.  We have seen the consequences from fracking in communities from Colorado to Pennsylvania and beyond.

 

Catskill Mountainkeeper cannot and will not stand by and allow for this destructive practice to happen throughout New York State – devastating our communities and environment.  If the unsafe practice of fracking moves forward, Mountainkeeper will continue to fight to ensure that the most stringent environmental regulations are set in place to mitigate the damages produced by this destructive industry.  Yesterday, the New Jersey State legislature presented NJ Governor, Chris Christie, with a measure to ban hydraulic-fracturing statewide.  We are asking our State Legislature to make a stand on behalf of New York residents and do the same.

Take Action and tell Governor Cuomo to ban high-volume, hydraulic fracturing in New York State.

This shift on behalf of Catskill Mountainkeeper comes after a week of devastating revelations by The New York Times, which have spurred federal lawmakers to call for an investigation into allegations that companies have inflated the benefits of producing natural gas through fracking, in an attempt to mislead regulators, investors and the public.

On Tuesday, lawmakers called on several agencies – including the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Energy Information Administration, and the Government Accountability Office – to investigate the natural gas industries’ claims with regards to the profitability and productiveness of their wells. Congressional Representatives Maurice Hinchey (D. NY), Edward Markey (D, MA), Carolyn Maloney (D, NY) and Jerrold Nadler (D, NY) are calling on the S.E.C. to investigate industry reps’ accusations of illegality in overbooking reserves – providing inflated estimations on gas producing potential from wells – and asking the commission to reconsider a recent rule change, which gives companies more latitude with their estimations on reserves, and allows avoidance of third-party audits of such predictions.

The four lawmakers also questioned the S.E.C.  on whether third-party audits should be made mandatory – a feature that was dismissed by the previous rule shift.  And in New York, the Attorney General has demanded that five oil and gas companies provide documents supporting their estimates of potential gas reserves in the state and the presentations they provided to investors regarding the risks of fracking.

On Monday, a group of eight federal lawmakers from gas-producing states submitted a letter to President Obama asking him to promote continued natural gas development "by any means necessary," and members of the House Committee on Natural Resources say they hope to hold a hearing in the next several weeks to discuss natural gas drilling.

These moves follow a series of articles in The New York Times this week, which document e-mails and other correspondence suggesting that a number of companies have been systematically over-stating the potential from shale gas deposits and low-balling the costs of producing that gas.

The Times based its reporting on internal e-mails and documents from industry lawyers, energy executives, market analysts, state geologists and others.  Together these documents reveal widespread internal skepticism and dissent that often contradicts the public positions of these companies.

NYT Articles:

‘Insiders Sound an Alarm Amid a Natural Gas Rush’ (June 25, 2011):
The information presented in the article raises questions as to whether companies are intentionally – perhaps even illegally – overstating the size of their reserves and the productivity of their wells.  In some cases, the documents compare the practices of natural gas companies to those of scandalized, discredited and failed corporations, including Enron.  The article goes on to quote various industry insiders who identify shale gas as “inherently unprofitable”, and asserts that shale plays are “giant Ponzi schemes” and that “the economics just do not work.”  In other words, shale wells are not performing as well as is claimed by industry officials seeking to paint a rosy picture to the public about the benefits of hydrofracking for gas.  These much-touted benefits, moreover, are what the industry has used – misleadingly, it now appears – to justify the grave environmental risks of fracking.

This information presents potentially devastating implications for investors, landowners and leaders, to speak nothing of the environmental impacts that would accompany the increased need for companies to drill more wells and perform greater numbers of hydrofracking operations per well to keep up with projected production. View the article here.

‘Behind Veneer, Doubt on Future of Natural Gas’ (June 26, 2011):

Highlights the role the US Energy Information Administration (E.I.A.) has played in the development of our national conversation on domestic shale gas production potential.  The E.I.A. is responsible for providing “independent and impartial energy information to promote sound policymaking” and “efficient markets” and their reports, which don’t require approval from any other arm of government, are utilized by legislators to inform initiatives and are widely followed by companies, investors and policy makers. However, the E.I.A. has been identified here as being heavily reliant on research from outside consultants who have ties to the natural gas industry.  According to internal e-mail exchanges of EIA officials, some of these consultants go so far as to pull data they supply to government directly from energy company news releases, which “fundamentally undermines the agency’s mission to provide independent expertise,” according to Danielle Brian, Executive Director of the Project on Government Oversight.

The article additionally presents information from internal E.I.A. documents, which accuse companies of exaggerating potential for profitability by presenting performances only of their highest producing wells. View the article here.

‘S.E.C. Shift Leads to Worries of Overestimation of Reserves’ (June 27, 2011):
A change made by the Securities and Exchange Commission (S.E.C.) to a rule regarding gas reserve estimation practices allows natural gas companies to be more liberal in their methods of placing estimates on potential reserves in areas not yet drilled, and to keep details of their estimation process private.

Current regulations allow companies to include gas located further from producing wells in their reserve estimates, and additionally enable companies to reduce their finding and development costs, which are divided accross a larger reserve estimate and subsequently make costs appear lower.  Under the previous regulations, gas companies were only permitted to to include gas from areas close to their active wells as part of their ‘proved’ reserves, which are estimated quantities of accessible gas that companies present to investors. According to the NYT, immediately after the new rules went into effect, many shale companies increased – some by more than 200 percent – the size of reserves reported in their federal filings. View the article here.

Catskill Mountainkeeper cannot and will not stand by and allow for this destructive practice to happen throughout New York State – that is why we need your support now more than ever.



For Immediate Release: June 8, 2011

Mountainkeeper and a coalition of groups concerned about fracking have released the first in a series of videos featuring celebrities including Mark Ruffalo, Ethan Hawke, Zoe Saldana, Josh Charles, Amy Ryan and Nadia Dajani declaring their love for New York Water.  The campaign was launched with a Huffington Post Blog by Mark Ruffalo which you can read here.
Click here to watch the 1 minute video:

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Watch the :30 second spot here

‘Clean Water NOT Dirty Drilling’ – a coalition of organizations working to protect communities and the environment from the dangers of natural gas development – is celebrating the launch of its ‘I Love My New York Water’ campaign with the release of a new ad.

The intention of these videos is to raise awareness on the harmful effects of fracking – a process of natural gas extraction that utilizes high-volume pressure injections of millions of gallons of contaminated water to pump gas from underground shale formations – and its effects on water.

“The consequences of drilling for natural gas are severe and are already being witnessed in states across the nation,” says Catskill Mountainkeeper Executive Director, Ramsay Adams.  “It is imperative for New Yorkers to take a stand to prevent gas companies from mobilizing in our state to utilize the same practices that have devastated the water supplies in other areas, including right next door in Pennsylvania.”

Water from New York State reservoirs provides for over 15 million New Yorkers, and the state houses the largest unfiltered reservoir in the country – sending fresh water to residents in cities from NYC to Philadelphia.

"If hydro-fracking were to get its legs in New York State, the consequences would be hugely far-reaching, and damaging in ways that we can only begin to grasp ” says NRDC Senior Attorney, Kate Sinding.

The coalition hopes these videos bring statewide and national attention to the protection and preservation of water supplies.  “Our water is a precious and irreplaceable resource,” asserts Ulster County Legislator, Susan Zimet and CEO of Zimet Group, Executive Producer of the commercial.  “It’s imperative that we start treating it as such.”



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Regional Organizations Seek Proposals to Define Value of Public Lands

The Catskill Center for Conservation and Development, Catskill Mountainkeeper, and Catskill Heritage Alliance have issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to quantify the economic value of the public land resources in the Catskill Region. The concentration of public lands and their recreational and scenic assets represent an economic value to the region’s communities; however, a comprehensive valuation of these resources has not been undertaken. The project will evaluate how more 350,000 acres of publicly accessible lands and reservoirs of the Catskill Forest Preserve and Catskill-Delaware Watershed are impacting the economies of local communities. The findings of the study will help communities and partnering organizations better understand how the region’s outdoor assets are used and where efforts can be focused to support recreation and tourism.

CLICK HERE FOR THE RFP



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Catskill Mountainkeeper opens High Peaks office

 

The Sullivan County-based environmental watchdog organization Catskill Mountainkeeper has officially opened an eastern office to serve the Catskill’s High Peaks region, including Greene County, which has six of the 10 highest mountains in the range. (Contributed photo)

By Jim Planck Hudson-Catskill Newspapers Published: Sunday, February 27, 2011 2:08 AM EST

GREENE COUNTY — The Sullivan County-based environmental watchdog organization Catskill Mountainkeeper has officially opened an eastern office to serve the Catskill’s High Peaks region, including Greene County, which has six of the 10 highest mountains in the range.

Starting up originally in Jeffersonville, Catskill Mountainkeeper has since steadily advanced its profile as a watchdog for the public, participating in a diverse range of matters and issues affecting the Catskills.

Its most recent ongoing effort — and one which perhaps requires an energy focus and commitment level above the norm — is working to prevent regulatory fast-tracking of hydrofracking in the Catskills.

Given a recent reference by President Barack Obama as to whether the U.S. is doing everything it can to develop its natural gas resources, the agency has created an e-mail letter on its website, which more than 1,000 people have sent thus far, detailing the potential pollution concerns with fracking. Heading up the organization’s new High Peaks office, which opened Saturday, is Dr. Kathleen Nolan, who has been working as an environmental advocate in the region ever since she came to the Catskills more than 20 years ago.

Her new role at Mountainkeeper allows her to continue that effort.

“Working with Catskill Mountainkeeper keeps me at the center of the most important issues facing the Catskill region,” said Nolan. “Mountainkeeper’s leadership role has been proven in their defense of clean air and water through their review of hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus Shale, and in their opposition to casino gambling as a shortsighted approach to economic development in rural areas.”

Specifically, Nolan’s area of focus for the agency will be developments, sustainable energy projects, open space preservation, recreational opportunities and Main Street revitalizations.

Catskill Mountainkeeper’s High Peaks Office is located just south of the Greene County line, at 34 Tinker St. in Woodstock.

For more information, call (845-482-5400) or visit www.catskillmountainkeeper.org.

 

TELL PRESIDENT OBAMA ABOUT YOUR CONCERNS REGARDING HYDROFRACKING!

President Obama has personally entered the dialogue about natural gas extraction by recently declaring, "We’ve got, I think, broad agreement that we’ve got terrific natural gas resources . . . are we doing everything we can to develop those?"
While we recognize that the United States, especially the Marcellus Shale, have plentiful reserves of natural gas and we clearly understand the interest in developing these reserves, we and our grassroots colleagues are enormously concerned about the idea of fast tracking natural gas exploration and the risks such actions will bring.
There is abundant scientific and empirical evidence that extracting natural gas utilizing High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing (fracking) poses significant risk to our water, air and human and animal health. Catskill Mountainkeeper has maintained for more than two years that there can be no drilling using fracking in New York State until it has been proven to be safe – - and as of this time it is not safe. Instead we keep uncovering more science and more reports that underscore the magnitude of the risks for all New Yorkers. Disasters rivaling the recent BP crisis in the Gulf of Mexico are possible.
It is urgently important that President Obama understand that YOU don’t want natural gas extraction fast tracked and that you don’t want fracking to start until the current EPA study is completed, the science it has to share is known and New York State clearly demonstrates that it has the ability to safely manage drilling by implementing the most stringent standards, regulations, inspection plans and enforcement capabilities.
We have prepared a letter to President Obama for you to send as is or to modify as you see fit. The gas drilling battle is entering a new and even more critical stage. Please take just a few minutes now to write the President. We have clearly proven that when enough of us take action our leaders stop and listen.
Read the full text of a letter
sent to President Obama by Catskill Mountainkeeper  and Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy, which spells out the issue in detail.
TAKE ACTION - OVER 1212 PEOPLE HAVE SENT AN EMAIL
Click Here
to send an email to President Obama.  It is quick and easy – use our language or write your own.



 



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