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.

Trailkeeper’s New Year’s Snow Shoe Hike

Start your New Year exploring Walnut Mountain Park with a guided snowshoe hike through the beautiful 265 acre park, on Wednesday, January 1st from 11:30-1:00. You’ll receive a Walnut Mountain packet from the Liberty Parks and Recreation with a map of the trails and some great historical facts! — Did you know Walnut Mountain used to be a ski slope?
Bring the family and enjoy this free late-morning adventure followed by hot chocolate and treats by the fire at Lazy Pond Bed & Breakfast, located just around the corner on Old Loomis Road.

For those of you who’d like a shorter outing, there will be a 30-minute beginner snowshoe on level terrain. And for those who want more, bundle up because we’re going to the top! To register and for more information, call Erin at Catskill Mountainkeeper at (845) 707-1326 or Morgan Outdoors at (845) 439-5507 by December 31st.

Snowshoe rentals are available through Morgan Outdoors. Call (845) 439-5507
to reserve in advance.

Sponsored by Trailkeeper.org, with experienced staff from Trailkeeper partner groups: Lisa Lyons of Morgan Outdoors, Erin Burch of Catskill MountainKeeper, and Heather Jacksy of SC Division of Planning. Co-sponsored by Lazy Pond B&B and Liberty Parks and Recreation.

Catskill Harvest Annual Open House/Trailer Talk Benefit


Catskill Mountainkeeper and Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy will be co- sponsoring an evening of light food, wine, and festive cheer on Saturday, December 21st from 6pm until 9pm at the Catskill Harvest Market’s annual Holiday 
Open House.

In addition this event is a benefit to provide fund raising support to Sabrina Artel. Sabrina Artel does a weekly WJFF radio show called Trailer Talk. She travels around the Catskill region and even around the country pulling a 1965 camper, bakes her famous brownies, and interviews locals on the issues affecting us here in the Catskills.
During the open house Catskill Harvest will be donating to Sabrina 10% of all sales to help get her trailer repaired and back from California in time for spring.
We hope that you and your friends can join us this evening in helping get Sabrina’s trailer back on the road and home. For additional information about contributions please visit Trailer Talk.
We hope to see you there!

NYPost Ed Board Urges New Yorkers to Vote No on Prop 1 Against Gambling Referendum

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The casino Cuomo

By Post Editorial Board, October 29, 2013 | 4:21am

The casino CuomoPublished: October 29, 2013 | 4:21am

The iron rule of gaming is this: The odds always favor the house. That’s as true of the Las Vegas blackjack table and the Atlantic City slot machine as it… All this would be reason enough to vote down this initiative. But the ballot’s added language suggesting cost-free benefits merits its own rebuke. New Yorkers would do well to regard this language with the same credibility we give to the promises of carnival barkers, The Post urges a “No” on Proposal 1.

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No to More Casinos in New York State

Published: October 24, 2013

New York State is home to five casinos run by Indian tribes and nine casinos that are called “racinos” because they are large slot machine parlors near racetracks. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature now want to expand gambling by putting a constitutional amendment on the Nov. 5 ballot that would add seven full-blown casinos. The answer from voters should be no.

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A voice against proposition one

Fritz Mayer October 23, 2013 —

Ramsay Adams knows that a lot of important people in Sullivan County and beyond are in favor of gaming. They want people to vote “yes” on Proposition One in November and change the state constitution to allow up to seven casinos in the state. But Adams’ reluctant position is to oppose the proposition, because he believes casinos in Sullivan County will bring more harm than good.




Casinos a bad bet for Catskills

By Ramsay Adams, Commentary
Updated 4:49 pm, Thursday, October 17, 2013

When our group, Catskill Mountainkeeper, opened its doors in 2006, Gov. George Pataki had proposed multiple casinos for the region. We took on the Pataki proposal as our initial battle, because we didn’t see casino gambling as a good long-term fit for the region’s economic challenges.

Seven years later, it’s a different governor, but the same scheme.

We oppose this latest proposal, a change in the state’s constitution up for an Election Day

for more info on our efforts to stop multiple Altantic City type casinos in the Catskills

for more info on our efforts to stop casinos in the Catskills

vote on Nov. 5, for many of the same reasons we fought the last one. For us, the casino question is straightforward. When we again take a close look at the facts, it’s hard to buy the sunny picture the pro-casino forces are painting. They’ve even tried to stack the deck with slanted language in the referendum itself.

On virtually every front — from the environmental impact to the burden casinos place on local services to a likely increase in crime — we’re convinced the drawbacks vastly outstrip the benefits.

The writer is executive director of Catskill Mountainkeeper


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.

Flooding in CO

Dear President Obama,

I am heartbroken over the pictures I’ve seen of the flooding destruction in Colorado and terrified of a similar catastrophe happening here in New York if fracking is approved. The thought of waste from fracking overrunning centralized facilities (the new name for open waste pits) in our flood prone state is a likely scenario that is just too great a risk.

I know that the Department of Environmental Conservation has worked hard on creating regulations to protect the public from the downsides of fracking but a
tragedy of the magnitude of the Colorado flooding eviscerates the theory that these regulations could protect us.

I don’t want the kind of contamination that has happened on the local level in Colorado to happen in New York and I don’t want to have to worry that the toxic waste from fracking that could spread into our waters and poison my family.

I implore you to take whatever political risks are necessary to support clean energy solutions that can meet our energy needs without sacrificing our planet.

Thank you for your consideration.

‘Same River’ Comes to Sullivan County!

Same River Poster

Catskill Mountainkeeper is excited to be a part-sponsor of the upcoming performance of ‘Same River’ at NACL Theatre*!

Same River is an improvised, inter-disciplinary performance based on local residents about water and the effects fracking has on communities.

The show will be at NACL Theatre in Highland Lake on Sunday, September 8th, at 4:00 pm and will be performed by The Strike Anywhere Performance Ensemble.

Tickets are limited, so be sure to get yours’ today!

When: Sunday, September 8th, at 4:00 pm
Where:  NACL Theatre, 110 Highland Lake Rd, Highland Lake, NY

Strike Anywhere was founded in NYC in 1997 to promote empathy, free-thinking, and greater social awareness through provocative theatre and educational outreach.
We were fortunate enough to have a quick conversation with SAPE’s Artistic/Producing Director, Leese Walker about the show. Here is some of what she had to say:

CMK: Why did you all decide to create a show focused on the community impacts of fracking?

LWI first learned about fracking when we were invited to perform at NACL’s 10th Annual Catskill Festival of New Theatre in 2010.  We were working on a new format for interdisciplinary improvisation and so I asked NACL’s Artistic Director, Tannis Kowalchuk, if there were any themes running through the festival programming that year.  She responded, “Water.  Definitely water.”  So I thought, “OK let’s make a show about water”.  I asked about local water issues and several people mentioned fracking.   I knew very little about it at that time.  As an ensemble, we researched the process and surrounding issues and came to do an intensive residency in the area.   I had never done an interview-based process before and had been waiting for the right project to come along to employ it.  This seemed perfect.  That first foray into the show SAME RIVER in 2010 was a bold experiment in using an interview process to launch an improvised show.  When we started, we thought the show was about water and fracking.   As we dug in deeper over the last 3 years, we discovered that the show is really about how drilling has impacted communities and relationships.  Water is still present in the show. The dancer who plays the character of water serves as a witness throughout the piece. 

CMK: You interviewed a wide range of people from our communities to create the basis of the show. How did you connect with these people and what was the interview process like?

LWWe perform a residency in conjunction with this show on every stop of our tour.  Having this time in the community allows us to conduct new interviews in each place and custom design the show to reflect the host community.  When we were here three years ago, the show was totally improvised.  Now we have a set structure and characters that are present in every performance but the actual dialogue within those scenes is improvised based on the interviews.  NACL, our host, served as the liaison.  They connected us with different community members so we could gather a wide range of voices for the piece.
The interview process this time around was particularly special because we have been here before and we met with many of the same people that we met with three years ago.  It has been interesting to see how things have changed and what has stayed the same.  It has been wonderful to reconnect with people and I can’t wait to show them how much the show has evolved since 2010.  We have a beautiful production now replete with video projections, stunning lighting design and costumes – if you haven’t seen it before, we are a company of jazz musicians, dancers and actors so the piece is interdisciplinary. 

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CMK: What were the biggest surprises/challenges that arose while collecting these stories?

LWWell, the biggest surprise has probably been to discover how multifaceted people are- all the shades of gray, the conflicting ideas within each person.  Another surprise has been to hear some of the same language coming from the mouths of the most polarized voices on the spectrum, similar phrases or similar examples to prove their point.   It is funny to me.  The project has helped me to humanize viewpoints I disagree with.  I hope it will do the same for audience members. 

CMK: The performances are very audience-driven and participatory. How much has this impacted the tone and content of each performance?

LWEvery incarnation of Same River is different.  It really takes on the flavor of each place that we visit.  We try to capture the conversation.  So naturally, the tone and content morphs and changes to reflect the communities we visit.
We also use a variety of community engagement strategies wherever we go.  We figure out what the host would like to accomplish and custom design an approach to meet those needs.  In past incarnations of the show, we have performed extended residencies in high schools in conjunction with the show http://www.strikeanywhere.info/videos.cfm?VID=wXwVPx1D_2M.  We have had students craft new scenes and join us on stage. We have had community members come out and help us build the set.  At one high school, students worked with an installation artist to create an interactive, large-scale art installation which served as the first act of the show.  We always include a post-show town hall discussion.  This is really important to us because the point of the show is to instigate discussion.  We have found that in a lot of the places we visit, communication has broken down. We hope that by authentically presenting multiple voices on stage we can promote empathy and help to heal divides.

*NACL Theatre is a professional, not-for-profit company that has created over 15 original and ensemble theatre productions since 1997.  To learn more about NACL, and to learn about ways you can support the theatre, please visit their website here.

Action Alert: Stop the Industrialization of NY!

Gas industry touts energy independence, but builds infrastructure for export

Despite the gas industry’s patriotic declarations of energy independence in their relentless ad inundation in radio, print, and TV media, it appears they have a different plan when it comes to natural gas.  The gas companies are pressing forward with aggressive development for a massive infrastructure that will allow these companies to export natural gas overseas – enabling these billion-dollar corporations to tap into lucrative international markets and drive up corporate profit even further.

The scale of the planned infrastructure projects is enormous.  In New York alone, there are currently seven major pipelines (Blue Stone, Constitution, Mark Connector, Millennium Phase I, Rockaway, and Spectra), a gas storage facility at Seneca Lake, multiple compressor stations including ones in Hancock and Minisink and a Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) processing facility, the Port Ambrose project, to be placed in the ocean off of the coasts of New York and New Jersey, which are in various stages of the approval process.

If the gas industry’s plan succeeds, the big winners will be the stockholders of the natural gas companies and the big losers will be the rest of us.


  1. Stop the Ambrose Project! A LNG processing facility in the waters off New York and New Jersey, with its threat to water and air quality is totally unacceptable. Governor Cuomo has the power to veto the application permit.PLEASE CALL THE GOVERNOR at 518-474-8390 or 212-681-4580 and ask him to protect the environment and people of New York State by vetoing the “Port Ambrose” LNG processing facility.

  2. Register your disapproval of the Port Ambrose project by submitting your comments here,
    U.S. Department of Transportation
    Docket Management Facility
West Building
    Ground Floor,  Room W12-140
    1200 New Jersey AvenueSE
 Washington, DC 20590Refer to docket number USCG-2013-0363, and tell the DOT that the Ambrose Project is a major threat to our oceans, air, and water quality, and health, and will exacerbate climate change.Comments are due by August 22, 2013, so submit yours’ today!
  3. Tell Your U.S. Representative to vote ‘NO’ on the “HR 1900 National Gas Pipelines Permitting Report Act”
The “HR 1900 National Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act” would fast track approval for all interstate gas pipelines by requiring that the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee (FERC) process applications within only one year, and is slated to come before the full House for a vote soon. This new time limitation would more than halve the time that FERC would have to study the impact of each infrastructure project and, if passed by the full Congress, would result in severely limiting public comment and almost guarantee the approval of infrastructure projects prior to conducting critical due diligence.
    Please write to your Representative and tell them to vote “NO” on HR 1900.

We’re well acquainted with the dire environmental and health consequences of drilling and fracking for gas in local communities, but proposals like the LNG facility in the waters off New York and New Jersey and the proposed pipelines and compressor stations would bring these hazards to every community through which the gas would be transported, causing contamination and leaked methane – the main component of natural gas – which is a potent greenhouse gas.

Today, Catskill Mountainkeeper is joining Earthjustice, Riverkeeper, Clean Act Council, Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, and the Sierra Club to file extensive comments to urge the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to deny the application for the Constitution Pipeline. Building a massive natural gas infrastructure is the wrong choice for New York and our country.  It must be stopped. Catskill Mountainkeeper is fighting hard to raise awareness of the dangers of continuing along this treacherous path and is advocating for renewable, sustainable energy choices.

Summer Supper at Neversink Farm

A Mid-Summer Afternoon Supper to Benefit Catskill Mountainkeeper

On Saturday, July 13th, join us for a special late-afternoon summer supper as we celebrate the seasonal bounty of the Catskills at Neversink Farm.  You are invited to tour the farm while enjoying delicious, locally-sourced foods that have been thoughtfully prepared by James Beard award-winning chef, Patrick Connolly.  Bring the whole family and enjoy a slow summer afternoon strolling through the lush fields and rolling riverside pastures of Neversink Farm.  Sample fine foods and beverages amongst gorgeous cut flower and vegetable fields, while listening to the old-timey sounds of the Poison Love string trio.

When: Saturday, July 13th from 4:00 – 7:00 PM
Where: Neversink Farm in Claryville, NY.

Adults - $60
Youth (under 18) - $25
Children under 5 - Free
To purchase your tickets today, click here

All proceeds from the event go to support the work of Catskill Mountainkeeper.