Join Mountainkeeper and Partners at the Catskill Interpretive Center Gala!

Can you believe the Catskill Park doesn’t have a Welcome Center!!  That is about to change.

Catskill Mountainkeeper along with our partners are pleased to announce the Catskills Gateway Gala Event to raise funds for the construction of the Maurice D. Hinchey Catskill Interpretive Center in Mount Tremper, New York.  The Center is has gained all approvals and construction will begin this summer.  The Gateway Gala Event is our first fundraising public fundraising effort to match the Federal and State funds already secured.  Below is the invitation to join us on Saturday April 12, 2014 from 5:30-8pm at the Ashokan Center. You can buy tickets by visiting:



Fracking’s Impact on Severe Weather



Friday, October 11, 2013 – I am heartbroken over the pictures I’ve seen of the flooding destruction in Colorado. It particularly hits home because in 2006 flooding from an extreme, intense, isolated thunderstorm destroyed my vegetable farm in Youngsville, Sullivan County. In a few hours, torrents of water ruined three of my tractors, devastated my irrigation equipment and took away 60 percent of my topsoil. I couldn’t recover, and it put me out of business.


2013 Flood in Weld County, CO

In some ways I was lucky, especially compared to the people in Colorado. I didn’t have to worry about toxic fracking chemicals that are linked to cancer, infertility, autism, diabetes, thyroid disorders and many more conditions poisoning my family, which is a real fear for people in Weld County, Colo.

I did not have a natural gas well pad or a wastewater containment facility on my land. I did not have condensation tanks or open pits that contained toxic fracking waste. That meant that the washout across my field had water in it and not toxic waste.

In New York, proponents of gas drilling say we can protect ourselves from this type of devastation by having better regulations. The tragedies in Colorado and the 2006 flood of my farm eviscerate this theory.

While the regulations in the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement, the conditions under which New York state proposed to regulate fracking, may be better than what they have in Colorado, history tells us they are unlikely to address a weather calamity like the Colorado flooding.

My farm was destroyed by what was considered a 500-year flood, but the SGEIS only seeks to prohibit wells in areas that are defined as 100-year flood plains. This flood plain definition has been rendered almost meaningless, as climate change has created a “new normal” where we are seeing the increased frequency of weather events that previously were defined as 100-year, 500-year and even 1,000-year occurrences. We experienced two 100-year floods and the 500-year flood in a five-year period.

Even if the proposed regulations were more stringent, our government does not have the ability or willingness to enforce regulations. A recent study showed the Department of Environmental Conservation has lost one third of its staff. And in case after case, the Federal Environmental Protection Agency has been walking away from dealing with fracking pollution.

Ironically, it is the carbon emissions from burning natural gas and other fossil fuels that is accelerating climate change, which in turn is increasing the intensity of storms.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has maintained a moratorium as the Department of Health and DECstudies the science on fracking. If there was ever a sign that fracking is not right for New York and we need to move to clean energy, the Colorado disaster is it.

Wes Gillingham is program director at Catskill Mountainkeeper.

PA county shows possible dangers of fracking


Sep 6, 2013   

Written by
Sandra Steingraber and Dr. Kathleen Nolan

As Gov. Andrew Cuomo sends Health Commissioner Nirav Shah around the country to look at the health impacts of fracking, we hope he is looking at Washington County, Pa. Early results from an on-the-ground public health assessment indicate that environmental contamination is occurring near natural gas drilling sites and is the likely cause of associated illnesses.

This is alarming. According to this assessment, in one small county of about 200,000 people, 27 people thought they were getting sick and went to a single rural health clinic and fracking was determined to be a plausible cause.

Since drilling has only been going on for six years, it does not include chronic illnesses that can take years to manifest.

While the industry points to these numbers and says it’s “only” 27 people, the presence of any people gives a lie to industry claims that fracking is “safe.”

The 27 cases documented by the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project team are not a surveyed sample of the region’s population, nor were they recruited to be part of a study. They are patients from a single rural clinic who came in seeking help. As such, these early figures could easily be the leading edge of a rising wave of human injury.

Mesothelioma from asbestos, thyroid cancer from radiation, mental retardation from lead poisoning, birth defects from the rubella virus — all these now-proven connections began with a handful of case studies that, looking back, were just the tip of an iceberg. We know that many of the chemicals released during drilling and fracking operations — including benzene — are likewise slow to exert their toxic effects. Detection of illness can lag by years or decades, as did the appearance of illnesses in construction workers and first responders from exposure to pollution in the 9/11 World Trade Center response and cleanup.

The early results from the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project study implicate air contamination as the likely cause of three-quarters of the associated illnesses so documented. In some cases, starkly elevated levels of fracking-related air pollutants were found in the air inside of people’s homes. This is an unacceptable problem: breathing is mandatory and, while a drinking water source might be replaced, air cannot.

A minority of cases suffered from likely exposures to tainted water, but these low numbers are not reassuring. Water contamination often takes a while to appear. Well casings continue to fail as they age — up to 60 percent over 30 years — and, as they do, we expect health effects from waterborne contaminants to rise and spread to more communities.

Given that exposures and illness increase over time and given that many instances of contamination and illness related to fracking never come to light due to non-disclosure agreements with the industry, we cannot accurately quantify the extent of our problems with gas drilling. But Washington County shows that they are here, and we have every reason to expect that they are not yet fully visible and they are growing.

We hope Cuomo and Shah are watching.

Steingraber is a distinguished scholar in residence at Ithaca College, and Nolan is a physician and bioethicist working with Catskill Mountainkeeper.

Gangplank to a Warm Future


New York Times

Published: July 28, 2013 

Cornell University professor Anthony R. Ingraffea makes the case why gas is not a bridge fuel to anywhere.

ITHACA, N.Y. — MANY concerned about climate change, including President Obama, have embraced hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. In his recent climate speech, the president went so far as to lump gas with renewables as “clean energy.”
As a longtime oil and gas engineer who helped develop shale fracking techniques for the Energy Department, I can assure you that this gas is not “clean.” Because of leaks of methane, the main component of natural gas, the gas extracted from shale deposits is not a “bridge” to a renewable energy future — it’s a gangplank to more warming and away from clean energy investments.

Methane is a far more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, though it doesn’t last nearly as long in the atmosphere. Still, over a 20-year period, one pound of it traps as much heat as at least 72 pounds of carbon dioxide. Its potency declines, but even after a century, it is at least 25 times as powerful as carbon dioxide. When burned, natural gas emits half the carbon dioxide of coal, but methane leakage eviscerates this advantage because of its heat-trapping power.

And methane is leaking, though there is significant uncertainty over the rate. But recent measurements by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration at gas and oil fields in California, Colorado and Utah found leakage rates of 2.3 percent to 17 percent of annual production, in the range my colleagues at Cornell and I predicted some years ago. This is the gas that is released into the atmosphere unburned as part of the hydraulic fracturing process, and also from pipelines, compressors and processing units. Those findings raise questions about what is happening elsewhere. The Environmental Protection Agency has issued new rules to reduce these emissions, but the rules don’t take effect until 2015, and apply only to new wells.

A 2011 study from the National Center for Atmospheric Research concluded that unless leaks can be kept below 2 percent, gas lacks any climate advantage over coal. And a study released this May by Climate Central, a group of scientists and journalists studying climate change, concluded that the 50 percent climate advantage of natural gas over coal is unlikely to be achieved over the next three to four decades. Unfortunately, we don’t have that long to address climate change — the next two decades are crucial.

To its credit, the president’s plan recognizes that “curbing emissions of methane is critical.” However, the release of unburned gas in the production process is not the only problem. Gas and oil wells that lose their structural integrity also leak methane and other contaminants outside their casings and into the atmosphere and water wells. Multiple industry studies show that about 5 percent of all oil and gas wells leak immediately because of integrity issues, with increasing rates of leakage over time. With hundreds of thousands of new wells expected, this problem is neither negligible nor preventable with current technology.

Why do so many wells leak this way? Pressures under the earth, temperature changes, ground movement from the drilling of nearby wells and shrinkage crack and damage the thin layer of brittle cement that is supposed to seal the wells. And getting the cement perfect as the drilling goes horizontally into shale is extremely challenging. Once the cement is damaged, repairing it thousands of feet underground is expensive and often unsuccessful. The gas and oil industries have been trying to solve this problem for decades.

The scientific community has been waiting for better data from the E.P.A. to assess the extent of the water contamination problem. That is why it is so discouraging that, in the face of industry complaints, the E.P.A. reportedly has closed or backed away from several investigations into the problem. Perhaps a full E.P.A. study of hydraulic fracturing and drinking water, due in 2014, will be more forthcoming. In addition, drafts of an Energy Department study suggest that there are huge problems finding enough water for fracturing future wells. The president should not include this technology in his energy policy until these studies are complete.

We have renewable wind, water, solar and energy-efficiency technology options now. We can scale these quickly and affordably, creating economic growth, jobs and a truly clean energy future to address climate change. Political will is the missing ingredient. Meaningful carbon reduction is impossible so long as the fossil fuel industry is allowed so much influence over our energy policies and regulatory agencies. Policy makers need to listen to the voices of independent scientists while there is still time.

Anthony R. Ingraffea is a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Cornell University and the president of Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy, a nonprofit group.


Come to our No to Fracking/Yes to Renewable Energy Rally in Albany on June 17th


After six years of fighting a David vs. Goliath battle against fracking in New York we have so far managed to hold back the gas companies and maintain a defacto moratorium.  But a decision on fracking could be coming soon. Governor Cuomo recently said, “I will make a decision on fracking before the 2014 election.”  That is why we are calling on you to come to Albany for an anti-fracking rally on June 17th.  There is no better way to show the Governor our resolve to keep fracking out of New York than by bringing thousands of determined activists to his doorstep.

While our success has been notable and could not have been predicted when we started this fight together in 2008, the powerful gas and petroleum stakeholders in the Marcellus Shale are betting that the Governor will decide to approve fracking.  They are getting ready by building pipelines, compressor stations and storage facilities.   New York State needs to invest in our renewable energy future instead of building the infrastructure for the exploitation of dirty fossil fuels like natural gas.


New York stands at a crossroads; this is our moment to decide the course of history.

Come to our No to Fracking/Yes to Renewable Energy Rally:

What: New York Crossroads: Rally to Stop Fracking and Demand Renewable Energy
When: Monday, June 17th, 12pm-3pm
Where: Rally and March on East Capitol Lawn, Albany, NY
Transportation: SIGN UP FOR BUSES HERE
Car Pool:
If you would like to set up a car pool please email Corinne Rosen at [email protected]

Please sign up HERE to RSVP and for preliminary transportation options.

Please sign up HERE to RSVP on FACEBOOK and SHARE.


On Wednesday, June 17, 1885, the Statue of Liberty arrived in New York Harbor, where she has stood as our nation’s symbol of freedom ever since.

On Monday, June 17, 2013, citizens from across New York—from Long Island to Niagara Falls—will arrive in Albany to demand freedom from dirty energy, calling on Governor Cuomo to reject fracking and lead the nation in constructing a renewable energy economy here and now in New York.

At this march and rally, the anti-fracking movement will, for the first time, join with business leaders, faith leaders, health professionals, elected officials, farmers, and youth to demand the renewable energy jobs that our families and communities want and deserve. New York is at a crossroads. In one direction: more ruinous dependency on dirty, dangerous fossil fuels. This path requires we blow apart the bedrock of our state and inject it with toxic chemicals. Providing only temporary, dangerous jobs, it leads to accidents, explosions, poisoned water, polluted air, contaminated food, public health disasters and climate catastrophe. This road chains us to the past and ransoms our children’s future.

Running in the other direction is the road to renewable energy based on wind, water, and sunlight. This path leaves our communities unfractured and provides long-term, safe jobs to New Yorkers. This path creates an infrastructure that will not cost us the water we drink, the air we breathe or the health of our children. This path will make New York a leader in energy independence and, once more, a beacon of hope for the world. This path is the one we demand because our lives literally depend on it.

Governor Cuomo has said, “We will not allow the national paralysis over climate change to stop us from pursuing the necessary path for the future.”

We agree. Here in New York, where we have watched our subways fill with seawater and witnessed Hurricanes Irene, Lee and Sandy wash away our communities, we now call on our governor to reject the climate-destroying practice of fracking and take aggressive strides towards a 100% renewable energy economy.

On June 17th, we invite people from every corner of New York State to gather at the State Capitol in Albany. Here, we will stand united to demand that Governor Cuomo reject fracking and blaze a trail to a renewable energy future.

While our success to date to stop fracking has been a landmark achievement, it is unfortunately not a precursor to successfully preventing fracking in New York State.  We haven’t come this far to fail in the last stages.   We need your help to make sure that Governor Cuomo continues to feel the pressure of millions of New Yorkers who are against fracking in our state and who will consider his stand when he runs for reelection.

Join us for this historic event as we rally in the East Capitol Lawn and march in the streets surrounding the Capitol building.

The moment of power is now!

What: New York Crossroads: Rally to Stop Fracking and Demand Renewable Energy
When: Monday, June 17th, 12pm-3pm
Where: Rally and March in East Capitol Lawn, Albany, NY
Transportation:  Sign up for buses here
Car Pool:
If you would like to set up a car pool please email Corinne Rosen [email protected]

Please sign up HERE to RSVP and for preliminary transportation options.
Please sign up HERE to RSVP on FACEBOOK and SHARE.

Sponsored by: New Yorkers Against Fracking, Food & Water Watch, Frack Action, Catskill Mountainkeeper, NYPIRG, Citizen Action of New York, Environment New York, United for Action, Citizens Environmental Coalition, Alliance for a Green Economy, Sierra Club-Atlantic Chapter, Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy, Save The Southern Tier, and many more to be announced!

Thank you and see you in Albany!

Please share this email with your friends, family and neighbors so that they too have a voice in this decision. Thank you so much for what you have already done, and your continuing support.  Catskill Mountainkeeper is totally reliant upon the financial support of those who share our conviction to prevent fracking in New York.

Save the Date!! Barnfest 2013 – Woodstock!

Join the Mountainkeeper team, Chevy and Jayni Chase, Ben Hewitt, Sean Eldridge, Patrick H. Dollard, Aidan Quinn, Melissa Leo, the Helms, Catherine Sebastian, Happy Traum, the Little Farm Show, Paul Green and the Rock Academy and tons of great local bands.

SAVE THE DATE: JUNE 22, 2013 - 12-5pm
Join Catskill Mountainkeeper at our 
5th Annual 


As always, Barnfest is FREE! We do require registration to attend. Click here to register now!


Andy Lee Field – In the Heart of Downtown Woodstock
Rock City Road,
Woodstock, NY 12498
12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Ben Hewitt

en Hewitt
Food Activist and best selling author of The Town that Food Saved and Making Supper Safe

Want to help? Click here to volunteer at Barnfest


Spring cleaning? Donate to our Memorial Day REUSE Tag Sale

Spread the word » Facebook Twitter
Memorial Day Weekend 
REUSE Tag Sale
Is spring cleaning leaving you with unwanted items in your home? You can give your discards an extra life AND help Catskill Mountainkeeper by donating your gently used items to our Memorial Day Weekend Reuse Tag Sale.
Donation drop off dates will be on Saturday, May 18th from 10am-2pm and on Friday, May 24th from 9am to 6pm at the Catskill Mountainkeeper office in Youngsville: 4052 State Route 52, Youngsville, NY 12791; or call Erin at (845) 707-1326 to schedule a time.Suggested donations include:

  • Men’s and Women’s: clothing, hats, shoes, coats, and accessories
  • Children’s items: toys, clothing, books, bedding, outerwear, cribs, and strollers
  • Household items: kitchenware, small furniture, knick-knacks, holiday decorations, sporting goods
  • Garden/craft supplies: flower pots and vases, birdhouses, fencing, baskets, tools, yarn, fabric
  • Recreational items: books, music, camping gear, and skates

***Please be sure your items are clean and in good, working condition before donating.  No large or heavy furniture, appliances or electronics.  If you aren’t sure about an item, please call Erin at (845) 707-1326.

Don’t have anything for the sale, but still want to help?  Catskill Mountainkeeper relies on community support. To volunteer or make a donation, click on the links below:

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

‘Changing the Way We Eat’ Community Viewing February 16, 2013, Livingston Manor

For Immediate Release:
  February 6, 2013

Emily Deans,
Catskill Mountainkeeper: 845-482-5400/
Maria Grimaldi, NOFA-NY: 845-482-4164/

Viewing Party TEDX Manhattan “Changing the Way We Eat”, February 16, 2013

TedX Viewing Party adInterested in ‘Changing the Way We Eat’?  Everyone is welcome to attend a free viewing of the TEDx Manhattan Webinar on Saturday, February 16, 2013. TED (Technology, Entertainment, and Design) is a set of conferences presented globally, with the purpose of sharing “ideas worth spreading”. TEDx Manhattan is an independent event in the style of TED, which will be focused on creating a shift toward a more sustainable way of eating, farming, and growing our local communities and food systems.

The viewing will be held from 10:00 am – 5:30 pm at the Catskill Art Society, 48 Main Street, Livingston Manor, New York.  Over 16 prominent speakers are scheduled to participate in this annual webinar organized by The Glynwood Institute for Sustainable Food & Farming, which will also include videos on the current sustainable food movement. The talks will be streamed live throughout the day over the Internet and viewed on a large screen in the Catskill Art Society
The event is hosted by Catskill Mountainkeeper, NOFA-NY Catskill-Hudson Region, and the Slow Food Upper Delaware Chapter. The day will also include discussion, locally-sourced snacks, door prizes, a seed swap, and exhibits and presentations from local farmers, food businesses, and advocacy organizations. Some key areas of focus for the talks are: information, education and empowerment. Attendees are welcome to drop in or stay all day.

 TEDxManhattanNOFASlowFood Logo

How New York City Kept Its Drinking Water Pure — In Spite of Hurricane Sandy

Daniel Moss

Coordinator, Our Water Commons

How New York City Kept Its Drinking Water Pure — In Spite of Hurricane Sandy

Posted: 11/05/2012 10:17 am
By Albert Appleton and Daniel Moss

Smart investments that can keep public water systems safe in the age of superstorms

As we head toward the November 6 election, you can’t miss the vitriol boiling over in public debate. Best to shrink government and then drown it in a bathtub, say anti-tax crusaders. The implications for our water systems are hard to miss. Throwing out that bath water would mean under-investing in infrastructure, losing out on essential financing, compromising public health regulations and discharging public servants charged with keeping our water supply and watersheds healthy.

Post-Sandy, New York City is awash with problems, but in most cases drinking water quality is not one of them. “The genius of the New York City water supply is that we have ample reservoirs located away from the city that are not groundwater based,” says Dan Kass, the deputy commissioner for environmental health at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

The water flows downhill so no electricity is needed to pump it into the city. Many buildings store water in tanks on their roofs; gravity push it through pipes. While boil orders are in place for numerous towns and cities, many New Yorkers can drink from the tap.

The anti-government activists suggest privatizing water. But that’s been tried many places from Atlanta to Bolivia, often with disastrous results. In fact, Paris, France is leading a new counter-trend towards remunicipalizing its water services.

New York City’s water comes from the Catskill Mountains, and is kept safe and clean by an innovative cooperative agreement that benefits both the city and rural communities
How New York City has preserved its pristine water supply is a story of management innovations that have kept public water safe, affordable and integrated upstream and downstream, urban and rural. Albert Appleton, former Director of New York City Water and Sewer and Former Commissioner of New York City Department of Environmental Protection, describes the history of the New York City water supply as such:

Beginning in the 1830s, the City of New York created a water system generally considered to have no equal in the world. Generations of city leaders chose to go far north and west of the City, to find rural environments that would provide pure, pristine water.

But in the 1980s, as the economics of industrialized agriculture began to undermine the economic vitality of the small family farms that dotted the Catskill mountains, things began to change. Catskill farmers, in a desperate attempt to remain economically viable, began industrializing their own farm operations. Nutrient use increased, erosion accelerated, and pathogen contamination began to grow. Farmers also began selling off the forested portions of their land for environmentally damaging exurban development.

By the end of the 1980s, public health specialists were publicly stating the City would have to substantially increase the treatment of its drinking water source. The costs for the advanced treatment were estimated to be $4 billion to build and $200 million annually to operate. This would double the cost for water in New York City, with major adverse impacts on low-income families.

Thus, when Appleton became Commissioner of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection and Director of the New York City Water and Sewer system in early 1990, determining if there was any alternative to this was at the top of a very crowded agenda. However, unlike nearly the entire American water industry and its regulators, both of which were dominated by civil and public health engineers who thought almost exclusively in facility construction terms to solve water quality problems, Appleton’s background was in management reform, public finance and environmental policy, particularly land use.

Appleton was experienced in addressing issues from an integrative, multi-partner, problem-solving perspective.

He and his new management team were quickly convinced that allowing Catskill drinking water purity to deteriorate and then spending massive sums to clean it up was not the ideal option. The team’s philosophy was that a good environment will produce good water. And that made investing in the environment a smart and profitable investment for New York City.

It took 18 months of mutual work between the city and the the Catskill farming community but, in the end, using concepts that have now come to be called ecosystem services, an innovative and far reaching agreement was crafted.

Operationally, the question became what environmental investments should the city make. Some, such as adding to the publicly held land in the watershed — particularly critical lands threatened by development — along with stream corridor restorations and better stewardship of city owned lands were obvious. But that did not answer how to control non-point source pollution on privately held farmlands and other rural landscapes.

The city began to organize an unprecedented program of regulatory enforcement against non-point source pollution runoffs in its watersheds. Some farmers and other rural landowners reacted angrily. But with the city’s support, the Catskill farmers created a program they called “Whole Farm Planning,” a title designed to capture the fact that it incorporated environmental planning into the business strategy of the farm — a pollution control plan was developed for each farm, by the farmer and local farm and agricultural experts.

To ensure pollution control efforts would reach critical mass, the program set a goal of obtaining the participation rate of 85 percent of Catskill farmers within five years. Thus, while the program was voluntary for any individual farmer, the Catskill farm community as a whole was committed to reach a goal that would ensure the city met its pollution reduction objectives. After five years, 93 percent of all Catskill farmers were full program participants.

In terms of Clean Water, the results speak for themselves:
• There was a 75 percent to 80 percent reduction in farm pollution loading;
• The pristine quality of the City’s matchless drinking water was preserved and improved, and the threat that New York would have to spend billions on advanced treatment of drinking water was eliminated;
• The program paid for itself many times over through its many cost savings and played a critical role in helping to stabilize water and sewer tariffs, providing major benefits to low-income households;
• The program was wildly popular with the public and helped build strong urban support for future watershed protection efforts by New York City.

On a broader scale, the Catskill program spurred watershed protection and environmentally-friendly farm programs throughout the United States and catalyzed interest in non-traditional facility construction approaches of the U.S. water industry.

Ecosystem service payment programs like the one used in New York are a way of capturing the environmental profits from the services rural ecosystems provide urban areas and then funneling those profits back into the rural landscapes and the rural communities that provide them, creating a righteous cycle of mutually supportive economic and ecological investments between urban and rural areas, leading to a more sustainable future for both.

The importance of these payments for environmental services (PES) to the future of rural landscapes in particular cannot be overstated. All over the world, rural landscapes are being transformed at a rate that has no historic or economic parallel. PES payments can stabilize rural land use at a more balanced point by making environmental stewardship a new source of economic wealth for rural populations.

The list of water related ecosystem services is almost endless. Water utilities need to go beyond deployment of their traditional engineering skills and pioneer innovative financial arrangements with upstream residents, as New York City did, to take full advantage of these potentials.

The New York City example offers revealing lessons about how to preserve the integrity of our water systems in the age of superstorms. Investments in innovative public water systems are a top priority, not their abandonment. Consider your next glass of drinking water – and where it comes from — when you vote this Tuesday. Water citizenship means exercising your right to vote for safe water.

Daniel Moss, coordinator of Our Water Commons, an On the Commons project. He writes regularly about water issues around the world.