The Covid-19 crisis has changed absolutely everything for all of us. But, as our local communities, New York State, and the nation at large grapple with the implications of this human health and economic crisis, some bedrock truths have not changed: we need clean air, clean water, a stable climate, and justice for all, not only to survive, but to thrive and build a more resilient and sustainable future.
Over the next few weeks, Catskill Mountainkeeper will send a series of emails--entitled Now, More than Ever--exploring how we can work together to fix the broken public and private systems that have failed us and to advance the innovative policies that will drive the kind of systemic change needed to help New York State rebuild smarter and stronger as we recover from the pandemic.
EPA Fails to Protect Public Health & Enforce Environmental Laws—Catskill Mountainkeeper Joins Lawsuit to Hold Agency Accountable
NRDC represents Mountainkeeper and other organizations from across the US calling on EPA to issue emergency rule
Livingston Manor, NY - Today Catskill Mountainkeeper joined the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and other grassroots groups from across the country in suing the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
On March 26, 2020 the EPA announced a new policy allowing polluters like power plants and factories to determine for themselves whether or not they can comply with monitoring and reporting requirements and that the agency may or may not enforce failure to comply with permit requirements.
These monitoring and reporting requirements are critically important to protecting communities already burdened by pollution--monitoring and reporting are the way communities know if they're being exposed to additional toxins, and its often the monitoring and reporting that signals a problem in facility operations, before it becomes a crisis. Requiring monitoring and reporting and enforcing permits are some of the most basic and important ways the EPA enacts its mission to "protect public health and the environment."
In response, Catskill Mountainkeeper joined a petition filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) on April 1 calling on the agency to issue an emergency regulation amending its March 26 non-enforcement policy. Under federal law, EPA had one week to respond. The agency ignored the petition, and today the groups sued.
"Catskill Mountainkeeper has one ask of the EPA: do your job. The EPA was established to protect our communities and environment, but it is shirking its responsibility,” said Wes Gillingham, Associate Director of Catskill Mountainkeeper. “As our country struggles with a pandemic—one that is proven to be exacerbated by toxic air pollution—the EPA is allowing power plants, compressor stations, mines, well pads, and chemical plants to spew toxic pollution into our air and water without even the basic requirement that they report their emissions. The policies coming out of the EPA under this administration are downright dangerous, and now we have to force the agency to do its job.”
The NRDC and partners’ lawsuit is here: https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/complaint-epa-non-enforcement-20200416.pdf
The NRDC and partners’ petition is here: https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/petition-emergency-rulemaking-20200401.pdf
Save the Pollinators
Our award-winning new short film, Save the Pollinators, not only highlights the importance of pollinators for human survival, but also offers tangible actions you can take, right now, to protect these critically important creatures. The film features the efforts of local advocates, activists and farmers who have dedicated their lives to protecting pollinators.Posted by Catskill Mountainkeeper on Thursday, April 9, 2020
April 9, 2020--Catskill Mountainkeeper is excited to release our new award-winning short film, Save The Pollinators has received numerous film festival awards, including the Gold Award for Best Social Issue Film in the Independent Shorts Awards, and has been Officially Selected for the Anaheim Film Festival, Shriver International Film Festival, Kansas City Film Festival, and the Irvine International Film Festival. Save the Pollinators, which speaks to the importance of advocating for the lands and wildlife we depend on each day, will be available on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. As part of the release, we held an online screening and expert panel discussion. Watch the recording of the event, held on April 9, 2020, below.
Pollinator Webinar 4.9.20
In the last two weeks, Mountainkeeper hosted online film screenings and webinars about protecting pollinators. Nearly 400 attended, and we've had many requests to share the recording. So here it is! We're all working from home so the resolution isn't what we'd hope, but the expert panel is fantastic, and the questions posed by the crowd were on point. You can watch the film in high definition on our facebook page, and the Q&A starts at 18 min.Posted by Catskill Mountainkeeper on Thursday, April 23, 2020
Groups praise Governor Cuomo and the NYS Legislature for making the state’s ban on fracking permanent law as part of the 2020 NYS Budget
Albany - Environmental and public health organizations applauded Governor Cuomo and the NYS Legislature for permanently banning hydraulic fracturing as part of the 2020 NYS Budget. This year, the Governor and both houses of the legislature prioritized the fracking ban: Senator Jen Metzger and Assemblyman Steve Englebright introduced legislation to permanently ban hydraulic and gelled propane fracking, and Governor Cuomo included the hydraulic fracturing ban as part of his executive budget. The final budget addresses both forms of fracking by enshrining the state’s hydraulic fracturing ban into permanent law, and kicking off a process to ultimately ban the dangerous practice of gelled propane fracking.
"The science on the dangers of high-volume hydraulic fracturing is clear and non-controversial, and agreement to institute a permanent statutory ban is a big victory for public health and the environment," said Senator Jen Metzger. "The bill I introduced in December would have also banned fracking with gelled propane, and while the budget language doesn't quite get us there, it puts us on the right path and would effectively head off any industry stampede for permits to use this destructive process."
Actor and advocate Mark Ruffalo said, “While Trump is rolling back environmental regulations, Governor Cuomo, Senator Jen Metzger and the New York State legislature are protecting our water, air, land and public health by enshrining the fracking ban into state law. Thank you to our elected leaders and all the New Yorkers and the Onondaga Nation and Native people who dedicated their time and energy to organizing the anti-fracking movement.”
Sandra Steingraber, PhD, a biologist, author, and co-founder of Concerned Health Professionals of NY, said, "Never has the importance of listening to science been clearer. New York State's ban on fracking follows overwhelming scientific evidence that drilling and fracking are disastrous for the environment, climate change, and public health. Thanks to Governor Cuomo and the New York State legislature for enshrining the ban on hydraulic fracturing into permanent law and moving toward a ban on the equally dangerous practice of gelled propane fracking. This is a truly momentous achievement."
"With this budget, New York State leads the world in stopping the environmentally destructive practice of hydraulic fracturing," said Ramsay Adams, Catskill Mountainkeeper's Executive Director."The historic ban is included today thanks to Governor Cuomo, the State Legislature, and all of the grassroots activists that have worked tirelessly over the years to bring this to fruition."Read more
We know we don’t need to tell you that these are tough times, or that COVID-19 is changing everything about the way we live, work, and play right now. But we want to share a few tips from all of us at Catskill Mountainkeeper about ways to stay happy and healthy as we navigate this crisis together:
Care for yourself and for others as you enjoy the Catskills. Being outside and active in fresh air is a great way to reduce stress, boost your immune system, and restore your spirit. We all need the comfort of being out in the natural world right now. Our Catskills region is blessed with beautiful trails and plenty of open space to spread out in, so as long as you maintain the recommended social distance (six-feet, or about one couch-length apart from others), use local trails, and do not add to overcrowding at our most popular trails and trailheads, you can get out there and enjoy the land that sustains us while protecting yourself and others.
- Eat fresh, local food. Governor Cuomo named farmers markets an “essential service,” so our farmers are doing all they can to get their great food to market. In Sullivan County, the Callicoon Market moved outdoors to Callicoon Creek Park last Sunday (March 22) to give everyone plenty of space, and Mountainkeeper’s Food & Agriculture Advisor, Eugene Thalman of Sprouting Dreams Farm, reports that the relocated outdoor market is already a great success.
Click "Read More" below for resources to guide you to some of the best outdoor spots, rules for hiking and walking safely and responsibly, as well as what you can do to combat invasive species while you’re on the trail. Below that you’ll find additional information about where to find a farmers market near you and some best practices to keep us all healthy while we shop locally.
Remember--whether you’re on the trail or at the market, keep your distance. Six feet is about the length of a typical, three cushion couch--so stay a couch-length away from the people around you, unless you live with them. And though you’ve heard it a million times already--wash your hands for a full 20 seconds before you go and after you return.Read more
March 13, 2020--As a Catskill Mountainkeeper supporter, you’ve been at the forefront of the movement to protect New York from fracking. Now our state has the opportunity to codify the fracking ban, making it stronger and giving it the force of law. Act now: call on the Senate and Assembly to ban fracking in New York for good.
Thanks to your tireless efforts as well as the work of our State Assembly, Senate, and Governor Cuomo, in 2015 the Governor announced a historic regulatory ban on hydrofracking. This ban has safeguarded our communities from the grave public health and environmental risks associated with fracking that have been documented by more than 1,600 peer-reviewed studies. But now it’s time to protect New Yorkers over the long term by codifying the ban to give it the full force and weight of law, expand its prohibitions to include gelled propane fracking, and protect us from the whims of future governors.
February 24, 2020 - After eight long years of fighting, it looks like the Constitution Pipeline may finally be dead: "Williams — with support from its partners, Duke, Cabot and AltaGas — has halted investment in the proposed Constitution project. While Constitution did receive positive outcomes in recent court proceedings and permit applications, the underlying risk adjusted return for this greenfield pipeline project has diminished in such a way that further development is no longer supported," reported the Daily Star.
Mountainkeeper's own Associate Director Wes Gillingham was quoted in the national outlet E&E News, "We need to move away from fossil fuels and move in a just transition into renewable energy," Gillingham said. "This is a huge victory, and one of the things that I am hopeful about — if this holds and they don't try to put in another proposal — [is] it will be the beginning of the end for natural gas production in this region."
We’re optimistic, and can’t thank our friends at Earthjustice enough for their fabulous legal work, as well as the tireless efforts of dozens of organizations and thousands of Mountainkeeper supporters who have fought long and hard to protect NY from being ravaged by another dirty gas project.
For the last 50 years the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) has required federal agencies to assess the environmental impacts before making decisions that might negatively affect our natural resources. If an agency wants to permit a gas pipeline, build a toxic incinerator, or build a highway through Native American lands, it must notify the public and give the people an opportunity to comment on the proposed action. But President Trump's administration is planning to gut NEPA by exempting entire categories of projects from review and allowing companies to write their own assessments. This puts our air, water, public health, and communities at risk.
Catskill Mountainkeeper has been busy this winter, laying out our advocacy work for 2020 and cooking up fun events for our region. We’ve released our 2020 Action Agenda, outlining our top policy priorities for the year, and we’re working with partners to secure funding for the Catskill Park and Region, planning for a snowshoe fun run and walk on the O&W Rail Trail, and spreading the word about the Climate Action Film Festival. Read on to learn more about each of these actions and events, and thanks so much for all you do to make our region such a great place to work, play, and live.Read more
Environmental Organizations & Advocates Praise Governor Cuomo for Permanent Fracking Ban in NYS 2020 Budget
January 20, 2020 --
Albany - Governor Cuomo announced the introduction of a bill to permanently ban fracking as part of his New York State 2020 Budget. Advocates and environmental organizations across the state applauded the Governor’s leadership on this important bill to permanently protect the public health and environment of New Yorkers for generations to come.
In 2015, Governor Cuomo’s administration, including the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and NYS Department of Health, announced the completion of the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) process and a public health review that found high-volume hydraulic fracking was a danger to public health and the environment and therefore it would be not permited in New York State. Since that time, more than a thousand additional peer-reviewed scientific studies have been published that overwhelmingly confirming the serious public health and environmental risks and harms of fracking. Governor Cuomo’s announcement today was welcomed and applauded.
Actor and long-time anti-fracking advocate Mark Ruffalo, "Today Governor Cuomo showed our state and the nation once again what real climate leadership looks like by announcing a legislative fracking ban as part of NYS 2020 Budget. By listening to the science, he is on the right side of history in working to ensure that NY's fracking ban becomes the law of the land.”
“Governor Cuomo’s bold announcement to pursue a permanent fracking ban will protect New Yorkers’ health, water, and the communities we cherish, and we call on the New York State Legislature to make the ban law” said Ramsay Adams, Catskill Mountainkeeper’s Executive Director. “Between today’s announcement and the nation-leading Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, New York is walking away from powering our grid with fossil fuels. In the years since Governor Cuomo implemented the regulatory ban on fracking in New York, the science has become indisputable: fracking isn’t safe.”Read more