Watch Mountainkeeper Program Director Wes Gillingham talk about why supporting fracking is not good national policy.
Newsroom: Latest Developments
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.
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 www.catskillparkcoalition.org.
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.
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, www.catskillparkcoalition.org – 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:
Democrats Introduce Fracking Waste Bills
LISTEN HERE: http://wamc.org/post/democrats-introduce-fracking-waste-bills
A trio of Democrats in the New York State Senate are introducing legislation that would ban the use of hydraulic fracturing waste products. The minority conference released four bills that would ban fracking waste from being shipped into the state; ban waste products from being retooled and reused on roads and highways; ban the sale of liquid fracking waste; and prohibit water treatment facilities and landfills from accepting fracked waste products. Manhattan Democrat Liz Krueger sponsored the bill to prohibit the sale of any fracked liquid waste products. She says toxic materials from other states are being dumped in New York. “I learned from the scientists and the medical doctors we had testifying yesterday that large quantities of the fracking waste are actually being imported across state lines into our state. Some is poured directly into municipal wastewater systems. Some of it is ending up just dumped on roads. Some of it is actually being sold. And much of it, the scientists and doctors believe, is literally just being dumped into landfills both legally and illegally. The research they were showing on the impact on human health and the toxicity of water contamination truly terrified me.” Adirondack Mountain Club Executive Director Neil Woodworth says the legislation is needed because New York does not have the protocols for treating the waste products from fracking. “Some of the drill cuttings that basically are created when the horizontal well is drilled contain very, very strong brines. They contain organic hydrocarbons like benzine, toluene, xylene. They contain radioactive substances. And the same thing goes for the water produced when you frack a well. None of this can happen in New York right now. But in Pennsylvania they are looking for ways to dispose of these waste products and they’re trying to do it in New York. And we haven’t even cleared this process to be legal in New York State, let alone qualifying our landfills, our wastewater treatment plants to handle this material.” Catskill Mountainkeeper is an advocacy group that promotes economic development and protection of the Catskill wilderness region. Program Director Wes Gillingham says the bills attempt to address a serious health and environmental concern. He says the fracking industry has been operating for years without the public understanding the impacts of the industrial activity. “They’ve been getting away with business as usual that’s causing severe impacts to communities. And this is a real health threat. At the Chemung County landfill, for instance, you can see them bulldozing piles of the drill cuttings. So when that dries, then you’ve got wind and you’ve got dust carried to communities right nearby there. What’s their exposure to the radiation? That’s a serious question. Besides stopping this stuff going to the landfills and these public waste treatment facilities, we should also be doing comprehensive study in the places where the stuff has been going and to see whether there’s a serious health threat happening right now.” The legislation introduced Tuesday would also require the state Department of Environmental Conservation to establish regulations for the disposal of waste products. Although legal in neighboring Pennsylvania, fracking in New York remains on hold under a de facto moratorium, with polls showing the public split on the issue.
Watch Love NY, Don’t Frack It Up – the Callicoon Episode
Love NY, Don’t Frack It Up!
Catskill Mountainkeeper’s Energy and Climate Program Manager, Betta Broad, and grassroots activist Susan Van Dolsen co-produced a wonderful series of videos that showcase our beloved New York State. Each episode in the series focuses on a different region of New York and clearly illustrates why our state is better off without fracking.
If you haven’t seen it yet, you should check out the Callicoon episode which features Mountainkeeper Board Member and climate activist, Mark Ruffalo, Mountainkeeper Executive Director, Ramsay Adams, and Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy’s Jill Wiener.
Learn what’s to love about New York and why we shouldn’t frack it up by watching more of these great videos, here: www.lovenydontfrackitup.org
Breaking News: Oil Explosion in Lynchburg, Virginia Amplifies Urgent Need to Derail Expansion of Oil Trains in New York State
These 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: www.frackingdefense.org.
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?
State 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 successful 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.
Thanks to your support, Catskill Mountainkeeper has expanded our programming and staff 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
Join 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.
Broad Coalition Urges New York to Set Firm Deadline for Global Companies to Release Details on Explosive Crude Shipments
|For Immediate Release, April 21, 2014
Groups Demand Independent Audit of Global’s Oil Shipments
ALBANY, N.Y.— A broad coalition of national environmental groups, Albany Common Council members, and a local tenant association sent a letter to New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joseph J. Martens this week urging that the Department require Global Companies, LLC to provide a full response no later than May 3 to the state’s previous information requests. The requests, set forth in a March 24 letter from DEC to Global, seek additional details concerning the company’s current and planned operations. The coalition’s letter states that the May 3 deadline is necessary so that any new information submitted by Global can be incorporated into public comments, which must be submitted to DEC by June 2.
Additionally, citing a recent enforcement action by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality charging Global with significant permit violations at its facility in Oregon, the coalition is calling on DEC to conduct an independent audit of crude oil shipments currently moving or proposed to be moved through Global’s Albany and New Windsor terminals in New York. The coalition pointed out that although environmental and public-health impacts are based on the volume of crude oil shipments, the numbers provided by Global have not been independently verified by DEC.
“Oregon’s environmental agency has charged Global with moving more than 30 times the permitted amount of crude oil through the company’s terminal in Oregon,” said Earthjustice attorney Christopher Amato. “The people who live next door to Global’s operations deserve to know whether the same thing is happening here in New York. The health and safety of these at-risk communities depend upon accurate and complete answers to the many questions concerning Global’s secretive crude oil expansion plans.”
“Affected communities and concerned citizens deserve straight and timely information about dangerous and polluting crude oil cargos,” said Mollie Matteson, a senior scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Corporate secrecy has never been good news for public health and environmental protection; we need DEC to insist on transparency.”
Roger Downs, conservation director for the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter, said, “After two years of relative secrecy, the public finally has the opportunity to weigh in on New York’s emergent crude oil export facilities. But without independently verified information detailing the number of oil cars passing through Albany or the hazardous nature of the crude these rail cars carry, New Yorkers will continue to be in the dark about this serious threat to public health and safety.”
“Global’s proposal to transport heavy crude through the Hudson Valley will present untold dangers to our communities and our waterways,” said Kate Hudson, Riverkeeper’s watershed program director. “Our river demands answers to the many questions we and DEC have asked on safety, the amount of crude being handled, and response capacity, which the company has to date refused to give. We’ve come too far in a long history of remediating the havoc that has been wreaked by prior industrial activities to open the door to this new, extremely toxic threat.”
“Global was playing with the numbers in Oregon and they may be doing the same here. It is the DEC’s job to verify what is actually happening,” said Wes Gillingham, program director for Catskill Mountainkeeper.
Within the past year, over 1 billion gallons of explosive Bakken crude oil have been shipped into the Port of Albany by rail, hundreds of crude oil rail cars are stored just feet away from homes and playgrounds, and long lines of crude oil rail cars routinely stretch for miles along Interstate 787 through the heart of downtown Albany. These threats place homes, schools and businesses in harm’s way. Global’s latest proposal to expand its operations to include handling and heating tar sands oil from Canada poses significant additional environmental and public-health risks.
The dangers of rail transport of highly flammable, explosive Bakken crude oil are well documented, with recent derailments causing fires, explosions, fouling waterways, and even incinerating much of a town. In fact, more oil was spilled due to train derailments in 2013 than in the previous 40 years combined.
In addition to an imposed deadline for Global’s responses, the groups reiterate a previous request that DEC withdraw its Notice of Complete Application for Global’s proposed expansion of its Albany Terminal operations, pending Global’s full and adequate responses to DEC’s March 24 letter. The coalition also urges the DEC to require Global to submit monthly reports to DEC detailing crude oil shipments at its Albany and New Windsor terminals, and to provide this critical information to the public as it becomes available.
Public interest law firm Earthjustice submitted the letter on behalf of the Ezra Prentice Homes Tenants Association, Albany Common Council President Carolyn McLaughlin, Albany Common Council members Dorcey Applyrs, Vivian Kornegay, Leah Golby, Judd Krasher, and Judy Doesschate, Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter, Hudson Riverkeeper, Natural Resources Defense Council, Center for Biological Diversity, Scenic Hudson, Environmental Advocates of New York, Catskill Mountainkeeper and People of Albany United for Safe Energy.
Mountainkeeper and Allies Protest Constitution Pipeline Draft
ORGANIZATIONS OBJECT TO CONSTITUTION PIPELINE
The organizations including Catskill Mountainkeeper, Citizen Action, the Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society, Earthjustice and the Sierra Club say the evaluation of the pipeline is not good enough. They say it’s not a full environmental review of the project, which will have negative impacts on wildlife and homes, which could impact homeowners insurance and future mortgages.
“FERC hasn’t stopped any of these pipelines that have been proposed in recent history. They approve them carte blanche. We’re talking about something serious here, about using eminent domain to take public property. That’s under the conditions of public good. They have not adequately shown public good,” said Wes Gillingham of Catskill Mountainkeeper.
Opponents of the pipeline believe that ultimately gas companies are looking to transport gas to the east coast and overseas to open up new markets, which would help drive up the price of gas. They also want FERC to extend the comment deadline.
Catskill Mountainkeeper Launches Climatekeeper
What 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?
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
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.
Solar initiative planned for Broome, Tioga
While sunlight may seem scarce right now, Broome and Tioga county residents will soon have the option of buying solar energy in bulk.
Local officials will introduce Southern Tier Solar Works on Friday afternoon at SUNY Broome Community College. Southern Tier Solar Works is an initiative of the Binghamton Regional Sustainability Coalition in partnership with the Susquehanna Group of the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Catskill Mountainkeeper.