Please attend the nearest hearing and also submit written comments.
In 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.
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 http://www.stopthepipeline.org
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.
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 http://www.stopthepipeline.org.
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.
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.
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,
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.
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 Blasio 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.
The 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:
- 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.
- 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.
KEEPING IT CATSKILLS!
Catskill Mountainkeeper’s Food Initiative has had a productive year and we’d like to share some of our successes with you. We increased food access through the development of new farmers markets, expanded the Catskill Edible Garden Project, and facilitated mentorships for emerging farmers through regional partnerships. We are committed to our proactive programmatic work to support sustainable economic growth for our region and to strengthen and nurture healthy communities and local business.
Here are some of this year’s highlights from our Catskill Food Initiative:
Youth, Food, and Agriculture
Through our Catskill Edible Garden Project (CEGP), we have partnered with local schools to create fruit and vegetable gardens; improving student access to healthy, local foods. By growing their own food, students built confidence and self-esteem while learning life lessons about good nutrition and career options in agricultural or food-related businesses.
Just finishing its second season, the project has engaged hundreds of community members on garden build days at seven gardens across Sullivan County. Garden clubs have been set up, and teachers are integrating important lessons about food production, healthy eating and the importance of local food systems into the classroom. Some schools have even been serving student-grown garden produce in their cafeterias.
The workforce development component of the project has employed 12 local youths in summer work, giving area students the chance to learn how to grow, harvest, process, and prepare garden produce, which they distributed to local families and food pantries.
CEGP is a partnership between Catskill Mountainkeeper, Sullivan Renaissance, and other local organizations. You can learn more about the project and see additional photos here.
In October, Mountainkeeper wrapped up its first full season managing a new Catskills farmers’ market, located in the Sullivan County capitol of Monticello. The market improved access to healthy food for low-income residents and others, by connecting them with farmers and artisan food makers from our region.
While it’s the hub of an agricultural county, Monticello is a USDA designated ‘food desert’ – meaning a community without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food – and its residents suffer some of the worst health statistics in the state.
Working with area partners, Mountainkeeper opened the only market in the county to be approved by the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program. Participating farmers were certified by the program, meaning they could accept vouchers provided to low income families and seniors under federal programs like the WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, which provides aid to women, infants and children.
In addition to making fresh, healthy produce available, many of the markets offered recipe tastings and demos using local and seasonal produce, and provided information about health and nutrition.
As a result of the market, we saw a significant increase in voucher redemptions for fresh fruits and vegetables. Next year, we plan to expand this popular program to build on this year’s success. To get involved, please click here.
Farm to Table Dinner
This summer, more than 300 patrons attended our second annual farm-to-table supper at beautiful Neversink Farm. We were thrilled to welcome back James Beard Award-winning chef, Patrick Connolly, who prepared another delicious feast with thoughtfully-sourced ingredients from some of the Catskills’ finest farms and food producers.
By committing to purchase locally grown and processed foods, we allow farmers and producers to receive a higher profit margin, as they are able to eliminate many of the transportation and distribution costs associated with more geographically distant sales. Enabling local sales and food distribution allows farmers to develop relationships within their communities – whether that be with individual customers or local restaurant/business owners.
For more information on this and other on-farm events, please click here.
To learn more about other Catskill Food Initiative programs, partnerships and resources, and ways to get involved, click here.
Now More than Ever, Eco-tourism is Key to Reviving Tourist Industry
That’s something we love to do at Catskill Mountainkeeper. Our trail systems, and even our backcountry roads, in Sullivan County and the Catskills are some of the best in the nation.And over the last year, Trailkeeper.org, part of our Trailkeeper Network® initiative, has been a big part of our work to promote eco-tourism. Trailkeeper.org is a great online resource for hiking trails and local area attractions and amenities in Sullivan County that has drawn the attention of eco-friendly tourists, and encouraged them come to our area.
Amendment passed in New York State and we are likely to be the site of at least one casino, we can’t forget the importance of promoting eco-tourism in our Catskill Mountain region. That’s not only in terms of preserving our beautiful, but fragile ecology, but also in attracting potentially millions of non-gambling tourists to stay and spend in our region.
Will you take a picture of a special place in the Delaware River Basin that you don’t want destroyed? Or a picture of your family, your friends, your pets, or an important “reason to protect” the Delaware that you are willing to share with the officials at the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), who will ultimately decide the fate of our treasured river valley?
Every photo will be printed and included in a scrapbook that we will present to the Commissioners at their December 3rd public meeting, and you are welcome to join us.Please snap a photo of a special place you don’t want destroyed, a picture of your family, your friends, your pets, or an important “reason to protect” that you want to share with these officials who have maintained this moratorium.
IMPORTANT: Submit your photo no later than November 22nd to our partner, the Delaware Riverkeeper, at: [email protected] to make sure we can include it in the scrapbook.
Today is election day – a day where we can use our American right to get out and vote for the people and issues that are important to us and represent our vision for our communities and country.
For New York State voters, there are some important referendums up on the ballot, which have the potential to dramatically shift the quality of life for New Yorkers, and set dangerous precedents for the way we preserve and protect our land.
Catskill Mountainkeeper encourages New Yorkers to vote ‘NO’ on the following two ballot propositions:
PROPOSITION 1 – Referendum on Gambling and Casino Development in NYS
- The passing of this proposition would permit the development of SEVEN Las Vegas-style casinos in the state, and could pave the way for an additional THREE casinos in NYC in the next few years.
- While proponents of the referendum say they will bring about a badly needed boost to the local economy, overwhelming evidence from neighboring states proves otherwise.
- The truth is, casino development results in pervasive negative environmental, social, and economic problems for the communities in which they are located.
- For more information on Proposition 1 and additional reasons why you should vote ‘NO’, please click here.
- This proposition seeks to transfer 200 acres of “forever wild” forested lands to NYCO Minerals, Inc. – a mining company that operates a 250-acre mine bordering the Forest Preserve.
- In addition to destroying Forest Preserve property – much of which contains 150-200 year old growth forest – the passing of Proposition 5 would set a dangerous precedent for the future of forever wild Forest Preserve lands in the Adirondack and Catskill Parks.
- The Forest Preserve exists to protect important natural resources. To exchange Forest Preserve lands purely for economic purposes flies in the face of “forever wild”, which was established to protect and preserve the most ecologically valuable lands in the state.
- There has never been an amendment to the constitutional article authorizing the use, lease, sale or the exchange of these lands to benefit private commercial enterprise, and the passing of this proposal would set a terrible precedent enabling exactly that.
- Join Catskill Mountainkeeper and a broad coalition of other conservation groups – including NRDC and The Sierra Club – to vote ‘NO’ on this important proposition.
- For more information on Proposition 5, please click here.
The stakes are too high to sit this out! Get to your polling location today and cast your ‘NO’ vote on Propositions 1 and 5.
Don’t Let the Gas Companies Build Their Invasive Infrastructure
|Compressor Station on Federal Road, Erin, NY|
Certainly the gas industry is betting that he cannot. They have been quietly drafting plans to cover our state with an infrastructure to bring natural gas to market – with much of it projected to be shipped overseas where the prices are higher. This is why it is so important for you to take immediate action and submit your comments today on the prosposed regulations which would permit Liquified Natural Gas facilities of any size throughout the state. Our colleague, Sandra Steingraber, has once again made this process streamlined and effective with herReturn of 30 Days: The Infrastructure Regs. She will be collecting comments for the 30 day period and then submitting them to the New York State Department of Conservation.
The gas industry’s plans to create a massive infrastructure in New York means that the people who would be affected by drilling are not just those who live in the upstate areas where fracking might be approved, but EVERYONE who lives near a toxic and potentially explosive pipeline, compressor station, or Liquid Natural Gas storage facility. There are currently over 53 proposed or approved gas infrastructure projects across the State, including several in New York City and its suburbs.
To keep natural gas in a highly pressurized state for travel through pipelines, compressor stations are located every 40 to 100 miles along the route to market. Compressor stations have been documented to cause air, water and noise pollution. Studies from air around compressor stations have shown extremely high levels of carcinogens and neurotoxins. Lisa Jackson, former Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has said in relationship to other fracking infrastructure, “You are going to have huge smog problems where you never had them before.” High levels of ozone (smog) have been shown to have a direct correlation to an increase in asthma and other respiratory diseases. You only need to look to Pennsylvania – where gas companies have constructed over 450 compressor stations in five years - to see how quickly and extensively gas drilling can impact communities.
The full picture of the complexity and invasiveness of this infrastructure in New York has yet to emerge, but we are seeing a very disturbing pattern; industry scrambles to build a massive web of pipelines, compressor stations, and Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) facilities to reach new markets here and overseas so they can drive up the price of gas. We must prevent the industrial build out of New York State, which threatens hundreds of communities.
This coming year will be the most critical in our fight and will determine once and for all whether or not New York will get fracked. Right now we are asking you to take action on three issues:
#1 – The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)’s insufficient proposed regulations to govern Liquid Natural Gas plants in New York State. Comment period deadline November 4, 2013.
#2 – Plans to use abandoned salt caverns under Seneca Lake for natural gas storage. Comment period deadline October 16, 2013.
#3 – The Port Ambrose Liquid Natural Gas port that would connect ocean-going ships to proposed on-shore infrastructure. Although the scoping comment period has ended, Governor Cuomo can still veto it.
To help you take action on these three issues, our colleague Sandra Steingraber is replicating her tremendously successful campaign for commenting on New York State’s fracking regulations and will send you an email once a day for the next Thirty Days when you sign up to participate. She will explain each issue and offer the background science so that you fully understand why building this infrastructure is so wrong for New York. Please make your first comments now!
Mark your calendars to come to the public hearings and rally in Albany on October 30th from 10 am – 12 pm to comment on the the NYS Liquid Natural Gas regulations.
As we’ve said, the coming year will be the most critical in our fracking fight. In addition to participating in this campaign, we strongly urge you to educate and involve your friends and family. Please send them this email and ask them to join us.