Catskill Park Coalition News

Catskill Park Coalition News

Nearly 600 Pristine Acres Added to Catskill Park – On Tuesday, Catskill Mountainkeeper joined the Nature Conservancy, Catskill Center, New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC), the Catskill 3500 Club and New York/New Jersey Trail Conference to celebrate the acquisition of 590 pristine acres in the Catskill Park.

This land includes three parcels on the slopes of 3,600-foot Balsam Mountain, one of the 35 peaks over 3,500 feet in the park. Thanks to the efforts of the Catskill Park Coalition (CPC), and especially Alan White of the Catskill Center, this property was transferred from the Nature Conservancy to the NYSDEC, and added to the Catskill Park Forest Preserve.

Lost Clove

This acquisition follows the successful “Catskill Park Awareness Day” on February 25, when 49 coalition members met with the Governor’s office, DEC and multiple State Senators and Assembly Members to advocate for the Catskill Park. The Awareness Day legislative agenda included this priority land protection project, as well as the urgent need for additional forest rangers in Catskill Park, and budget requests for the Catskill Interpretive Center, the Environmental Protection Fund and the Catskill Association of Tourism Services. A special thanks to Mountainkeeper citizen activists, Melissa Gould, William Gutmann and Carolin Walton-Brown, who joined us on Awareness Day.

Catskill Park Coalition Website Goes Public – Catskill Mountainkeeper is pleased to announce the launch of the new Catskill Park Coalition website, which you will find at
The Catskill Park Coalition was formed in 2013 by Catskill Mountainkeeper, the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development, and The Natural Resources Defense Council. The coalition has since grown to include more than 25 member groups, all united in the goal of securing funding and resources to preserve the Park’s historic and scenic integrity, while strengthening the recreation-based economy of surrounding communities in the region.

The new website includes news articles that explain the Coalition’s origins and activities, including the first broadscale Catskill Park Awareness Day on February 25, as well as a moving essay on what the Catskill Park means to all of us, whether locals or visitors from across the State and Nation.

CDC Website

We have also included a section titled “Our Catskills,” which at the moment is a static site, but which we are planning to covert to an interactive blog in which anyone and everyone can offer comments, share stories, upload images, call attention to situations in the Park deserving attention and rally us all to action.

We expect to add regular updates to the website, including announcements of future actions where we hope you will join us.

We invite all of you to visit the site – again, – and once we go interactive, to offer your impressions and suggestions.

Please support our work to protect and promote Catskill Park! We rely on your donations, so please give generously using the links below:

Tell President Obama That We Don’t Want Fracking Here, or Anywhere!

rallyPresident Obama is coming to Cooperstown, NY this Thursday, May 22nd, and it’s critical that we show up in force to rally against fracking!

Lately, President Obama has been making headlines stressing the importance of addressing climate change. But his support for fracking completely undermines this message.  Not only does fracking cause widespread water contamination, dangerous air pollution, and terrible health and community impacts, but it is a major contributor to global warming. Tell Obama to ban fracking now!

Fracking bans, like baseball, started in Cooperstown. The Village is located in the Township of Otsego, the first town to ban fracking in New York, and in the Town of Middlefield, one of the first towns to defend its fracking ban in court. The citizens of Cooperstown know fracking would destroy their thriving tourism industry, which has been a viable and sustainable economic force for the small towns and villages of upstate New York for well over a century.

President Obama will be speaking at the Baseball Hall of Fame to promote tourism, but if he truly wants to support tourism in upstate New York, he needs to change his view on fracking.

So join us from near and far to tell President Obama: no fracking way!

WHEN: Thursday, May 22, morning/mid-day – time to be announced as soon as we have it; check our Facebook page for updates

WHERE: Cooperstown, outside of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, 25 Main St., Cooperstown, NY

WHO: Concerned New Yorkers and organizations

CARPOOL: Sign up here to carpool from Binghamton, Ithaca, Syracuse and elsewhere

Bring food, water, weather appropriate clothing and appropriate footwear!

Major Rally to Oppose Fracking at the Democratic Convention

Are you closer to Long Island than to Cooperstown?

Then join Catskill Mountainkeeper and New Yorkers Against Fracking at the New York State Democratic Convention, also this Thursday, May 22nd.  Bring your friends, family and fellow New Yorkers to urge Governor Cuomo to ban fracking.  The voices of his constituents are louder in person!  Show the governor that all eyes are still on him and his response to this important issue.

The majority of New York Democrats and residents are opposed to fracking and are for a Health Impact Assessment. Fracking’s detrimental impact on the environment and people’s health has been documented in other states, but we are still waiting for a comprehensive Health Impact Assessment to fully understand the consequences of the new technology.  Come rally to be sure New York’s future is healthy and frack-free!

WHAT:   Hundreds of New Yorkers rally to oppose fracking

WHERE: Hilton Long Island, 598 Broad Hollow Road, Melville New York

WHEN:  Thursday, May 2210 AM

TRANSPORTATION: Bus from Manhattan, click here

Rockland/Westchester, click here

Hudson Valley, click here

Fracking Lobby Day in Albany

We Need Your Voice in Albany to Keep Fracking and Its Toxic Waste Products Out of New York State 

albanypitThis Monday, May 12th, join Catskill Mountainkeeper in Albany for the Fracking Lobby Day.  This legislative session there are five fracking bills under review by New York State legislators and we need you to tell your elected representatives that we want them to support bills to keep fracking and fracking waste out of New York State.

Just last week, a hazardous waste bill that would have eliminated the import of fracking waste from out-of-state operations failed to make it out of committee for a full Senate vote by just ONE vote! We can’t let this happen again.  Come and let the Senate know it failed us and it’s time for them to clean up their act on fracking.

Join us in Albany and tell Governor Cuomo, the Senate, and the Assembly that you want a moratorium on fracking and a health impact assessment, so that we will know once and for all the full range of health impacts from fracking.

Click here to register for Fracking Lobby Day

The Capital Building, Albany, NY

 Monday, May 12, 2014, 9:00 am

For a complete schedule of the day’s events and to review the legislative agenda, click here.  You must register by close of business on Friday.


Save the Date: Fracktivists Needed to Greet Governor Cuomo at the Democratic Convention

cuomosOn May 22, Governor Cuomo is attending the Democratic Convention on Long Island– and we must be there in full force demanding a ban on fracking.  This is a very important event for Cuomo – and for New Yorkers fighting to protect our state from fracking.
The governor will describe his vision for New York’s future and will ask for our support.

We must show him that our support hinges on his handling of the fracking issue. Join us

in asking Governor Cuomo for an independent and comprehensive Health Impact Assessment on fracking and its related infrastructure, because the public deserves to know the full impacts of this under-evaluated, inherently dangerous industrial process.

WHEN: Thursday, May 22nd from 10:00am to noon

WHERE: State Democratic Convention, Hilton Long Island/Huntington Hotel

598 Broad Hollow Road, Melville

TRANSPORTATION: Buses from Manhattan, Westchester, and Hudson Valley to be announced soon



Breaking News: Oil Explosion in Lynchburg, Virginia Amplifies Urgent Need to Derail Expansion of Oil Trains in New York State

oil trainsThese days, there’s a lot of crude oil from the nation’s heartland running through New York State and if the oil companies have their way, there’s going to be a lot more.

Production from shale fields in the nation’s interior and Canada has dramatically increased.  Since there’s limited capacity for shipping petroleum products by pipeline, energy companies are turning more to rail transportation to ship its crude to coastal refineries, and then export.

As a result, the nation’s oil industry now wants to make Albany, our state’s capital, a major refining and export center.   Help us stop the expansion of crude oil transportation – send a letter to Governor Cuomo today!

Recently, a permit application from a company called Global Industries, LLC, which already processes crude oil at the Port of Albany, was submitted to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to expand its refining capacity substantially. If allowed to expand, this would mean increased oil-by-rail traffic through New York’s major cities and along its important waterways, including the Hudson River.

Here’s the problem: The safety of these oil trains are regulated by antiquated laws and regulations promulgated by both the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) and our state’s DEC.  This means the likelihood of these trains crashing is much higher than it should be.

In fact, after a major oil train derailment in the province of Quebec about 10 miles from the US boarder devastated a small town last year killing 47 people, there’s been a push in both Congress and in our neighbor to the north to better regulate and limit oil train traffic.

Just yesterday, another oil train derailed and exploded in Lynchburg, Virginia, near the James River, which supplies drinking water to the downstream residents of Richmond. This increased rail transport of heavy crude oil presents a dangerous threat to our communities and waterways, in New York and across the nation.  

One environmental advocate has called this issue Governor Cuomo’s “Keystone Moment.” In fact, in response to yesterday’s oil train accident, Governor Cuomo sent a letter to President Obama asking the federal government to overhaul the USDOT safety regulations, starting with taking DOT-111 trains off the rails now.  We applaud this stance and hope the governor will take a similar stance with New York State regulation by opposing the expansion of refining capacity at the Port of Albany.

Please join us in calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration to bolster its review of Global’s plan to expand its crude-oil facilities on the Hudson River.

As New York citizens, we must do everything possible to stop these under-regulated, dangerous oil trains from traversing our rails.  We want the DEC to perform an extensive evaluation of Global Oil’s operations and environmental track record, to impose the most stringent safety requirements and oversight, and to limit the number of these potentially killer trains from traversing our rails.

We can’t afford a spill or an explosion that will devastate our towns, cities, waterways or environment.  Please send a letter today.

Deadline to Comment on the State Energy Plan Extended

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority announced on Friday that the deadline to submit comments to the New York State Energy Plan has been extended to May 31, 2014.

They also released two new supporting documents for public review, the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Potential Study of New York State and the New York State Greenhouse Gas Inventory and Forecast Study.

The draft plan perpetuates the use of climate changing fossil fuels and would meet energy needs by producing or importing massive amounts of natural gas.  We need a plan that supports the immediate transition from a fossil fuel based economy to one based on clean, renewable energy.

If you haven’t yet submitted your comments, click here to comment today. 

Fractivist and Local Hero, Helen Slottje, Awarded Worlds Largest Environmental Prize

Catskill Mountainkeeper congratulates Helen Slottje for winning the Goldman Prize. This recognition brings with it a $175,000 cash award and international acclaim. Her generous legal work, much of which is pro-bono, in New York State has helped over 172 communities enact bans against fracking.  By educating citizens and advancing the concept of “home rule” in New York State, Helen has been a leading force fighting against the gas industry.

If you are interested in enacting a ban or moratorium in your community, visit the Community Fracking Defense Project’s website to learn how we can help:

The New York State Energy Plan should rely on Renewable Energy, Not Fracked Natural Gas 

In January, the Cuomo administration released a draft of its New York State Energy Plan, and the window to submit comments is quickly closing. To submit your comments by the April 30thdeadline, click here today!

What are State Energy Plans?
energy planState energy plans help to guide and build consensus among stakeholders in moving toward a shared goal of meeting future energy needs in a cost-effective and sustainable manner.

Why are State Energy Plans important?
A well-constructed state energy plan provides an assessment of current and future energy supply and demand, examines existing energy policies, and identifies emerging energy challenges and opportunities.  The plan, as well as the process to develop the plan, informs the future direction of state energy policy, programs, and funding allocation.  At least 36 states have active energy plans and 18 states are updating or developing new state energy plans, including New York.

What you should know about New York’s State Energy Plan:

The draft New York State Energy Plan perpetuates the use of climate changing fossil fuels and would meet energy needs by producing or importing massive amounts of fracked natural gas.

  • The plan completely ignores methane emissions in its calculations to reduce carbon emissions 50% by 2030. It is true that burning natural gas emits less carbon than burning other fossil fuels like coal, however that is only a part of the story.  Methane, the primary component of natural gas, is a far more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.  In fact, a recent study by the Nobel Prize winning United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says methane will contribute to global warming 86 times more than carbon dioxide over the next twenty years.  Thus, the methane that leaks during the fracking process from pipelines, compressors, wells and processing units eviscerates any perceived advantage.

  • The plan projects increased natural gas usage, which would require building a massive natural gas infrastructure of new gas-fired power plants, pipelines, compressor stations, and LNG facilities. This infrastructure would contribute to widespread health and environmental impacts in communities across the state.  It would also tie us to climate-changing fossil fuels for decades to come because the initial investment would need to be paid off.   Instead of building a natural gas infrastructure, we should invest in an infrastructure for clean, renewable energy.

  • While the plan outlines major growth in natural gas usage, it has no growth in renewables after 2020.  Rather than building a fracked-gas bridge down the dead end road of fossil fuels, we should support the work that is already happening in New York State to expand renewable energy development. Power generation from wind and solar more than doubled in our state between 1990 and 2012 (surpassing any other energy source). This plan makes no commitments to increase the proportion of our energy produced by renewable sources, despite substantive academic research showing that the technology and capacity to create 100% of New York’s energy from renewables is possible by 2050. All that we are lacking is the political will.

The IPCC reports that nations have so dragged their feet in addressing climate issues that another 15 years of failure to significantly limit carbon emissions will result in the problem being virtually impossible to solve with currently known technologies.

The stakes are incredibly high and the window in which we can do something about climate change is closing. The New York State Energy Plan needs to wean us off polluting fossil fuels and move us to renewables such as solar, wind and geothermal, before it’s too late.

Make your voice heard!  Submit your comments today.

Breaking News! NY-Sun Initiative Extended

The NY Public Service Commission announced earlier today that they are extending the NYSunsuccessful NY-Sun Initiative to install ten times more solar power in New York State by 2023. The Governor’s expansion of the state’s landmark solar program will support thousands of jobs, lower solar costs and increase energy reliability for New Yorkers.

Since its launch in 2012, NY-Sun has resulted in almost 300 megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaic capacity installed or under development, more than was installed in the entire decade prior to the program. The NY-Sun extension is expected to:

  • Build 3,000 megawatts (MW) of solar, enough reliable clean electricity to power nearly half a million New York homes.Create 13,000 new solar jobs in New York.
  • Cut climate change emissions by another 2.3 million tons annually, the equivalent of taking almost 450,000 cars off the road
  • Save New Yorker ratepayers billions of dollars by reducing the need to fire up our dirtiest and most expensive fossil power plants.
  • Spur millions of dollars of investment in the state’s growing clean energy economy.

Thank you Governor Cuomo! This is the type of bold action that we’d like to see outlined in the State Energy Plan.

Mountainkeeper moved!

Thanks to your support, Catskill Mountainkeeper has expanded our programming and photo-5staff to better serve the region and New York State.  After working elbow to elbow in our one room office for several years, it was time to move.

Now headquartered on Main Street in Livingston Manor, Mountainkeeper has become a part of the small town community that makes the Catskills unique, rich and beloved.

A special thanks to long-time Mountainkeeper supporter Dan Levinson whose vision and enthusiasm helped us outfit the new office with his custom designed (and built) furniture!

We will soon be joined by The Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce for a ribbon cutting ceremony to officially open our new, more spacious office. Stay tuned for the announcement, and in the meantime, come by and pay us a visit. We’d love to see you.

Our new address: 43B Main Street, PO Box 1000, Livingston Manor, NY 12758


Save the Date! An Afternoon Supper at Neversink Farm 

neversinkJoin Catskill Mountainkeeper for an afternoon of live music, guided farm tours, berry picking and a delicious spread prepared by James Beard award-wining chef Patrick Connolly.

Neversink Farm in Claryville, NY
July 19, 2014, 3-6 pm.

Call us today to reserve your Early Bird Tickets. Adults $50, children $20.

Urgent action is needed to stop the Constitution Pipeline!

Please attend the nearest hearing and also submit written comments.

stopthepipelineIn February, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) released the draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the proposed Constitution pipeline, which would run across 120 plus miles of the western side of the Catskills from Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania to Schoharie County, New York.

Time is running out on the comment period – which ends April 7th– and the only public hearings are this week.

Hearing Schedule:

Monday, March 31, 7:00 pm. Cobleskill-Richmondville High School

Tuesday, April 1, 7:00 pm. Oneonta High School

Wednesday, April 2, 7:00 pm. Afton High School

Thursday, April 3, 7:00 pm. Blue Ridge High School New Milford, Pennsylvania

For more information and to submit comments, visit

FERC is moving forward with the approval process despite the fact that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Interior have asked for an extension to the comment period. These agencies, along with some 60 local and national organizations, including Catskill Mountainkeeper, have signed onto letters requesting an extension because of several factors, “including but not limited to the size and complexity of the proposed project and its DEIS. Also the public cannot evaluate the impacts of the proposed project without all of the required information and documents.”

The comment period ends April 7th even though we have not seen, among other documents, the upland forest mitigation plan. How can landowners judge the impacts of the nearly thousand acre clear-cut swath without the mitigation plan?

The proposed pipeline is not in the interest of the region.  Seventy five percent of the landowners in Delaware County have refused to lease to the pipeline company – this is not a story of a few holdouts.

The pipeline is not in the interest of New York.  This pipeline would act as a critical connection for the massive build out of the Marcellus and Utica shale fields and conduit for Pennsylvania fracked gas.

This pipeline is not in the interest of our country. It will enable the industry to send the gas to new markets and export facilities to drive the price of gas up for their bottom line and prolong our addiction to fossil fuels.

 Screen Shot 2014-03-31 at 12.31.12 PM

New York is facing a massive build out of fossil fuel infrastructure at a time when we must instead be investing in sustainable and renewable energy options.  Please submit comments today and get out to the hearings so your voice can be heard. If you go to a hearing please ask for an extension of the comment period and then offer your specific critiques.

To learn more and make comments, visit

Catskill Mountainkeeper Launches Climatekeeper

FloodingWhat do the Polar Vortex in the Northeast US, decimating drought in the Southwest US, devastating flooding in England and the warmest winter Olympics in history have in common?  They are all new and extreme weather events that are indicative of the coming instability of our climate as a result of human caused climate change.

Catskill Mountainkeeper has launched the Climatekeeper initiative to address the critical problem of climate change because banning fracking alone will not be enough to protect our region and state from the disastrous consequences of a warming planet.   Climate change is arguably the biggest issue of our time and sadly the window in which we can do something about it is closing.

Climatekeeper’s goals are to:

  • Educate New Yorkers about just how threatening climate change is and what the consequences will be if we don’t take action.
  • Advocate on the local, state and national levels for clean renewable energy and energy efficiency.
  • Continue to fight against false solutions such as natural gas that will perpetuate the fossil fuel energy paradigm.

The evidence is irrefutable that mining and burning fossil fuels is contributing to the climate change.  A  January 16, 2014 article in the New York Times on the latest climate report from the U.N. said, “Nations have so dragged their feet in battling climate change that the situation has grown critical and the risk of severe economic disruption is rising….another 15 years of failure to limit carbon emissions could make the problem virtually impossible to solve with current technologies.”

It is imperative that we make sure that our elected officials can no longer ignore this reality.  Climate Change is a global issue that requires global action.  To learn what you can do, visit the Climatekeeper section of our website, and share this email with your friends and neighbors.

Is Climate Change Just a Headline or a Personal Call to Action? 

GreenDoor(1)Catskill Mountainkeeper board member Ilene Ferber connects the dots between fracking, climate change and your backyard in this wonderful article featured in Green Door Magazine.  You can read the article, and other great stories in the spring issue Green Door, or by clicking here.

Catskill Mountainkeeper Joins Rural Climate Network 

Screen Shot 2014-03-20 at 2.53.29 PM Catskill Mountainkeeper joined a network of likeminded organizations working on addressing the pressing issue of climate change in rural communities. Rural, natural resource-dependent communities are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, as they are often those most closely linked to natural ecosystems for their economic, social and environmental well-being. The Rural Climate Network is intended to foster collaboration that will address the complex issues that create rural injustices.

The Rural Climate Network is an excellent resource for the latest developments, actions and projects to address climate change.  Learn more about the work of Catskill Mountainkeeper and our partners across the nation.

The Community Fracking Defense Project ramps up local efforts

The Fight Continues Against Fracking in Upstate New York: Catskill Mountainkeeper ramps up effort at local government level

By Betta Broad

High-Volume hydraulic fracking is not currently taking place in upstate New York, but the threat that this process poses to our environment continues to grow in other ways.

Right now a de facto moratorium exists in New York to allow the state’s Department of Health and Department of Environmental Conservation to research the health and environmental impacts of proposed fracking. We continue to wait for their initial findings but the struggle to prevent gas and oil companies from bringing fracking, its infrastructure, and its waste to New York goes on.

As the oil and gas industry expands fracking in neighboring states, trucks carrying toxic frack waste from sites in Pennsylvania and Ohio travel our roads in New York. Meanwhile, the construction of pipelines to transport fracked gas to New York and the state’s ports has already begun.

Significant victories have already been won against fracking through home rule initiatives in local NYS communities with the passage of bans and ordinances that protect aquifers or regulate zoning, hazardous waste, and road use. Non-profit environmental organizations and lawyers such as Helen and David Slottje have helped to make these early victories possible by offering legal support to advocates on the ground. But much more remains to be done.

In order to help support this important work, in the fall of 2012, Catskill Mountainkeeper teamed up with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to create the Community Fracking Defense Project (CFDP). This joint initiative assists local governments and advocates seeking added control or protections from hydraulic fracturing in their communities. Through the CFDP, we have been providing pro bono legal assistance in the drafting of zoning regulations and land use plans as well as defending anti-fracking regulations already in place.

We are also helping the grassroots efforts of NYS residents and environmental groups in challenging industry-sponsored pro-fracking resolutions and/or other pro-fracking actions.

We want to help your community, too. Please join in our efforts to keep fracking out of NYS at the local level. Click here to learn more, read about recent news, and reach out for assistance to ban fracking in your municipality and to join the effort to stop fracking in New York State.

Also, if you’re interested in volunteering or hosting a forum on home rule in your community, please email [email protected]

It is an incredible honor to work with anti-fracking advocates around the state and we look forward to continuing to build this historic movement together.

Thank you for all of your support,


The New York State Water Supply: We Can’t Become Another West Virginia

By Ramsay Adams

Most of New York State’s drinking water comes from right here in the Catskills, and it is renowned for its taste and purity.

Our water is simply amazing, and we need to protect it for all of us who live here, and the 19 million people in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania that rely on water from our Delaware and Catskill wathersheds.

Our Catskill water is so pure, it reaches the taps of New York City unfiltered. Sadly, for the most part, we take it for granted that its purity and supply is being protected with vigilence by governmental regulatory agencies.

In our everyday lives, we just trust the water from our wells or municipal sources is safe and pure.  We also trust that our regulatory agencies are doing their most to protect us from pollution and spills into our water supply.

The truth is that we should be much more watchful and cautious in making sure our water supply is protected.

Case in point: There’s an ongoing environmental disaster involving the water supply of hundreds of thousands of residents in West Virginia that we in the Catskills should be paying very close attention to in terms of protecting our own H2O.

Earlier this month, over 7,500 gallons of a clear, licorice-smelling chemical used to process coal leaked from an old storage tank and spilled into the Elk River.  The accident took place near the largest water treatment plant in the state.

Life came to a halt there with the resulting prohibition on using tap water. Over 300,000 residents of West Virginia were ordered not to drink the tap water. That chemical, Crude MCHM, which is primarily composed of a chemical named 4-methylcyclohexane methanol is very toxic, and there were immediate reports of rashes, stomach aches, and other ailments.

After 10 days, restrictions on using tap water were lifted for most of those affected by the disaster, even though the licorice smell remained. Pregnant women are still being advised not to drink the water, while Governor Earl Ray Tomblin emphasized that tests indicated the water is safe under guidelines set by the US Centers for Disease Control, he also told a press conference he was not aware of a recommendation for home owners to flush their pipes until the smell is not present.

He was not too reassuring when he told residents: “If you do not feel comfortable drinking or cooking in this water, then use bottled water…I’m not going to say absolutely, 100 percent that everything is safe. But what I can say is if you do not feel comfortable, don’t use it.”

Now as West Virginia officials, who are no strangers to environmental spills and lax regulation, scurry to deal with the health disaster, serious questions are being raised as to why there’s so little regulation of the storage of these chemicals-and even worse, why there’s so little knowledge by the Federal government and the medical field about the potential toxicity of chemicals like the one spilled into the Elk River.

What stands out the most from the WV spill is how the Federal and state governments throughout the nation fail to monitor chemicals and their use in terms of protecting our water supplies.

A recent article in the Washington Post’s Health and Science section stated that “It has been 38 years since Congress passed a major piece of legislation regulating toxic chemicals, even though there is no disagreement that the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA, or Tosca) needs an overhaul” and that “”Chemicals in the United States are generally treated as innocent until proven guilty. A company does not have to prove that a chemical does not pose a health hazard in order to introduce it in the commercial market.”

Much like West Virginia, our state is way too lax in regulating chemicals. 

Here in New York State, the controversy surrounding Fracking already highlights the dangerous nature of chemicals used and released in the fracking process, particularly to the water supply, and serves as a reminder of how lax the regulation of chemicals are in our own backyard.  In fact, several of the chemicals identified in the West Virginia spill are manufactured for fracking operations.

In a report issued by Environmental Advocates in May, 2012, a dire warning was issued about the lack of regulation of the oil and drilling process and the flawed exemption of chemicals from being deemed hazardous waste:

“Existing state laws and regulations do not require oil and gas companies to report with any specificity how much waste is being created, its chemical components, or how drilling waste is being disposed. We also discovered that much of fracking’s waste would likely be classified as hazardous waste if it were not exempt under flawed state regulations.”

The lessons of the recent chemical spill in West Virginia need to be learned well, and implemented quickly, here in upstate New York.

It’s just not about potential fracking here in the Catskills, but about a broader, rudimentary need to protect our water supply from chemicals on a day-to-day basis.

Right now, our water supply is woefully underregulated in terms of chemical storage and transportation, and with the boom going on right now in transmission pipes servicing the needs of the oil and gas industries in neighboring states, updated studies and regulations should be mandated immediately.

The time to take action is now, at both the local and state levels of government, before it is too late.  To find out what you can do to help, email us or visit Catskill Mountainkeeper today.

We need your comments on the State Energy Plan

NY State Energy Plan Needs to Rely Less on Fracked Gas and More on Renewables

In a move that bolsters the growing anti-fracking movement, New York City Mayor Bill de New York Mayor de Blasio delivers remarks at the plenary session of the U.S. Conference of MayorsBlasio made headlines last week when he spoke out against fracking: “The science simply isn’t reliable enough. The technology isn’t reliable enough. And there’s too much danger to our water supply, to our environment in general.”

We couldn’t agree more. That’s why we don’t want a New York State Energy Plan that relies more heavily on fracked gas.  Whether natural gas is coming from New York State or neighboring Pennsylvania, it still contributes to climate change and perpetuates the mining and burning of dirty fossil fuels long into the future. Instead of increasing our reliance on natural gas, we should be planning for greater investment in clean, renewable energies such as solar, wind and geothermal. Join us in asking for a safer, cleaner energy future by commenting on the plan today.

We applaud the Governor’s new initiatives on renewable energy and clean technology that are outlined in the plan, including a ten-year statewide solar program that will increase solar power generation ten-fold, and a program to put solar panels on our schools.

But what else is outlined in the plan?  We looked at the 600-page document and found that it relies heavily on burning natural gas and promotes a massive build-out of natural gas infrastructure (an expanded network of pipelines, compressor stations and storage facilities across New York State).

We also found omissions and inconsistencies that will harm New Yorkers.  For instance, the plan projects a 50% reduction of carbon emissions by 2030.  This goal is based on an increase of natural gas use. The calculation outlined to measure emissions is limited to carbon dioxide only, and completely ignores the measurement of methane. Methane is the major component of natural gas, and has been proven to leak throughout the drilling and delivery processes.

Energy PlanThe plan asks for having an 80% reduction in overall green house gas emissions by 2050, which is a laudable goal. But we cannot base our calculations to get there by ignoring the impacts of natural gas infrastructure, and the increased methane emissions that would come with it.
  We need to demand an energy plan that considers the impacts of all climate-changing emissions, including methane.

“The overall energy policy outlined in the plan guarantees the perpetuation of dirty fossil fuels,” says Wes Gillingham, Catskill Mountainkeeper Program Director, “If gas companies spend billions on a new natural gas infrastructure they will want to see a return on this investment, which would tie us to natural gas for many, many years.”

The public review process of the draft Energy Plan is now underway.  The public has only been given 60 days to comment on the 600-page document, and although there are supposed to be 6 public hearings in Buffalo, Syracuse, Albany, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Long Island, none have been scheduled to date.  Originally the statute that governs energy policy stated that the public would have 6 months to review this critical plan, but delays in the release of the document have shut out sufficient public comment.  This is unacceptable.

What we decide today will shape the energy future of New York.  Please join us in two important actions:

  1. Click here to sign a letter to John B. Rhodes, the Chairman of the New York State Energy State Planning Board, requesting that the comment period be extended from 2 to 6 months.
  2. Click here to comment on the energy plan.  Please tell the Governor:
  • Instead of growing our dependence on natural gas, we should be weaning off of it.
  • Methane emissions must be measured to more accurately predict how much green house gas we’re sending into the atmosphere.
  • Instead of building a massive gas infrastructure, we should be building an infrastructure for clean, renewable energy.