Natural-Gas Riches Entice New Yorkers to Risk Poisoning Water
link to complete article is here: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601088&sid=aPxmKoxaOQdg
Commentary by Mike Di Paola
May 18 (Bloomberg) -- The Diehl farm in Delaware, New York, is a postcard-pretty place where honey is coaxed from beehives and maple syrup from trees.
The six-generation dairy farm, in operation since 1842, is one of many bucolic spots in the state where landowners are under financial, legal and sometimes neighborly pressure to lease their property to energy companies -- in a bad bargain that threatens the water supply of millions....
| By FRED LEBRUN COMMENTARY
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First published: Sunday, April 25, 2010
| There's been an unexpected great leap over what to do about the high-volume natural gas drilling proposed for New York's Southern Tier and into the Catskills.
Many who are skeptical of drilling are going to love it and rejoice. But wait, there may still be a snake or two in the woodpile for those who want to see a wider ban. In truth, it just got harder to stop the gas industry from more or less getting its way.
What's happened is this: The state in effect has taken the New York City watershed in the Catskills out of consideration for hydrofrack gas drilling. The Department of Environmental Conservation is developing a generic environmental impact statement from which a set of rules, procedures and regulations will be crafted to govern hydrofrack gas drilling. We learned this past week that the DEC should have that statement done by late fall. Pending drilling permits could begin a review process shortly after. It's coming soon, near you. Maybe.
All along, a major obstacle to the gas drilling in general has been the impact it might have on the New York City water supply. In recent years, the city has been very careful to protect water quality in the watershed, mostly in the northern and western Catskills. If it becomes compromised, a $5 billion-plus filtration plant will need to be built. The feds, who make the call as to whether a filtration plant is needed, are ever watchful,
So as a practical matter, gas drilling's effect, presumed, imagined or actual, on New York City's drinking water has been the strongest argument against it. The city, which is a very powerful political force, cannot take chances here.
The bureaucratic device the DEC is using to make the city watershed off-limits except to the very wealthy and extremely patient is to remove the watershed area from the pending generic environment review. This also applies to relatively tiny Skaneateles Lake, which provides unfiltered surface water to Syracuse, but nowhere else. As DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis was careful to point out Friday, this does not mean his agency is banning drilling in these watersheds. But it does mean that each application in the two watersheds will need its own lengthy and expensive environmental review, taking years, with no guarantee of the outcome. Besides, Grannis noted, the New York City watershed represents only 8 percent of the huge Marcellus Shale natural gas reserves in the state, and is not anticipated to be a particularly productive area for drilling anyway.
So as a practical matter, the gas industry will not lose much by not applying for permits in these watersheds. In fact, not a single permit application has been filed for drilling within them, and a major energy player, Chesapeake, has announced it won't seek permits in the New York City watershed.
By contrast, hard-core opponents of high-volume hydrofrack drilling anywhere in the state have just lost major leverage. As a tactical matter, removing the New York City watershed from the equation makes it far less complicated to deal with generic environmental safety issues. The DEC knows that, and so does the gas industry.
Grannis insisted Friday that this does not mean the DEC will rush to complete the generic environmental review, or that any short cuts will be taken.
As a practical matter, though, the contentious environmental review so far over high-volume gas drilling suddenly got far more manageable. A quicker and easier process would seem a logical conclusion.
The commissioner also said his agency is not going to wait for the outcome of a two-year study of hydrofrack gas drilling announced in March by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. This is troubling. Especially with recent contaminated residential wells in Pennsylvania a stone's throw from New York. Though Pennsylvania officials say hydrofracking itself wasn't to blame, the contamination is associated with high-volume gas drilling operations, just like the ones coming to our state.
Grannis' argument is that the EPA study is focused on federal drinking water quality standards, which gas drilling operations are exempted from meeting. New York's drinking water standards already exceed the federal rules that could be imposed as a result of the study, the commissioner noted.
But there is the larger issue of what else the EPA might find in this study, or whatever guidance for states might materialize. We just don't know what we don't know. Waiting an extra year for drilling may seem onerous to the industry, but it is a trifling in geological time. That gas isn't going anywhere.
Long Island Assemblyman Steve Englebright has introduced a bill calling for a moratorium on gas drilling in the state until 120 days after the EPA issues its report. His office says he has support in the Senate.
This is a worthwhile precaution.
While the DEC announcement last week accelerates the process, in my view, there remain at least a couple of other sticky points. Whether to allow drilling leases on public lands is a big one. Passing a severance tax now on drillers, so the state can collect revenues from the beginning, is another.
Contact Fred LeBrun at 454-5453 or [email protected]
By Denise Richardson
Link to complete article here: http://www.thedailystar.com/local/local_story_096040018.html
The Central Leatherstocking Region no longer exists as an official tourism name...
link to article here: http://www.stockmarketsreview.com/realestate/2010/04/06/catskills-land-for-sale/
The Catskills region of New York is made up of 4 primary counties namely, Delaware, Greene, Ulster and Sullivan. Sometimes two additional northern counties namely, Schoharie and Otsego are also included in regional destination of Catskills. These primary counties vary tremendously and if you are looking for Catskills land for sale, the familiarity with these counties can really help you a lot. A second home buyer has many different attractions from each of the counties. An insight into the counties can be really helpful if you are planning to buy estate here in Catskills.
Ulster is the closest Catskills County to New York City. The southern end of the County is considered part of the mid-Hudson Valley with Shawangunk Mountains offering world class rock – climbing and dramatic vistas. The country-cute village of Woodstock is located NY of Kingston. Catskills land for sale offers prices for Ulster a little higher than the other three countries as it was settled before Sullivan or Delaware. Houses from the late 1700’s to the early 1800’s are seen here. Classic stone mentor houses can be found here. They are not available in the other three counties which were settled later on.
Sullivan County situated in the south of Delaware and west of Ulster is considered to be the heart of traditional Catskills. Sullivan was the home of popular Catskill resorts like the Concord and the Grossingers. Sullivan has more varied terrain than the Ulster and Delaware and it has more water, unlike the other two that have more of mountain. Catskills land for sale offers more lakefront homes and recreational facilities at lakes at Sullivan County. The county boasts of the ‘Big 3′ fly fishing rivers namely, Beaverkill, Neversink and Willowemoc that pass through Sullivan making it the world’s top fly fishing regions.
Delaware is the furthest Catskills County from NY City. It is popular for its traditional styled farmhouses and charming old homes. One of the attractions of Delaware is that it offers rural ambience and is a good choice if you are looking for a county gateway. The northern and the western areas of the county (Hancock, Walton and furthest west) offer great property value but amenities like restaurants and markets are lacking here. Catskills land for sale at Delaware offers a little pushed up prices because of its popularity with second home buyers.
Greene is the smallest and the most mountainous of all the Catskills County and is situated north of Ulster. Greene is the choice for second home buyers looking for 4 season getaway with downhill skiing. It is the home of Windham and Hunter Mountains. The north eastern area of the Greene County is within the commuting distance of Albany with development mainly concentrated in the ski towns like Tannersville. Catskills land for sale offers a great choice for people looking for second homes. It is the smart way to find and buy real estate in Catskills with a lot of information about the area and up-to -date market trends.
ECO-BULLETIN FROM OTSEGO COUNTY CONSERVATION ASSOCIATION
April 6, 2010: Vol. 3, No. 10
OCCA SPRING 2010 NEWSLETTER NOW AVAILABLE ONLINE:The Otsego County Conservation Association’s current newsletter can now be accessed via the organization’s website, www.occainfo.org. The spring 2010 edition of “The Lookout” begins with an overview of this weekend’s Earth Festival 2010, including the Renewable Energy Seminar Series and “Go Green” Fashion Show. Other articles include: an introduction of two new OCCA Board members; the President’s Message from Martha Clarvoe and an announcement of Clarvoe’s upcoming award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; a recount of DISH, Texas mayor Calvin Tillman’s Oneonta public appearance on natural gas drilling; notice of the annual Garage Sale fundraiser; and articles on municipal composting and ag carbon trading. A roster of 2009 donors and grantors rounds out this edition of “The Lookout.”...
As weather warms, beware of bears
By ARIEL ZANGLA
NEW PALTZ — With the return of warm weather, New York’s black bear population will soon be emerging from its winter dens, and the state Department of Environmental Conservation is offering tips for avoiding problems with the animals....
link to complete article is here: http://www.wten.com/Global/story.asp?S=12192667
ALBANY, N.Y. -- The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation says seven campgrounds and two day-use areas in the Adirondack and Catskill parks will not open in 2010. At fault is the state's fiscal crisis...
March 18, 2010: Press Release Hinchey on EPA Study on the Risks Hydraulic Fracturing Poses to Drinking Water Supplies
Washington, D.C.-- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) tonight informed various stakeholders that it will announce tomorrow the commencement of the first phases of a comprehensive research study to investigate the potential adverse impact that hydraulic fracturing may have on water quality and public health. Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) tonight applauded the start of the EPA's study. Hinchey authored the provision that urged the EPA to conduct the study after questions were raised regarding the safety of the natural gas drilling process.