Budget Testimony 2022
Albany, NY - On February 1, 2022, Mountainkeeper's Deputy Director, Katherine Nadeau testified on the Governor's 2022 Executive Budget. Our testimony highlights the need to fully fund the Catskill Park and Region, the urgent need for $15 billion for climate justice and a just transition to NY's renewable energy future, support for the governor's proposal to protect wetlands, and more. Click "Read More" for our full testimony.Read more
Mountainkeeper Applauds Regulations to Protect New York from Bee-Killing Insecticides
New York State still needs Birds and Bees Protection Act to protect state’s water, land, and people from neonicotinoids’ toxic harms
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC)’s announcement that it will limit the unrestricted use of pesticides that harm bee and other pollinator populations is very welcome: neonicotinoids kill New York’s pollinators, including birds, bees, and butterflies, and they threaten our food, food production, and public health. The new restrictions eliminate the most common neonicotinoid insecticides from consumer products and non-professional residential uses, yet much more needs to be done. We look forward to working with NYSDEC and the state legislature to pass the Birds and Bees Protection Act to remove neonic-treated seeds from New York, one of the most common pathways for the toxins to enter our food and water.Read more
The more we learn about jumping worms--also known as crazy snake worms, Alabama jumpers, and Asian worms-- the more concerned we are.
Nearly all earthworms found in the Northeast today are non-native, but jumping worms (Amynthas species) are extra concerning because they gobble up organic matter more quickly than their European counterparts, stripping the forest of the layer critical for seedlings and wildflowers. Jumping worms grow twice as fast, reproduce more quickly, and can infest soils at high densities. In areas where there is a heavy infestation, native plants, soil invertebrates, salamanders, birds and other animals may decline.
Mountainkeeper is following the invasion, and have complied resources and assembled experts. You can watch our panel discussion from December 7, 2021 here. Click "read more" for a jumping worm Q&A and additional resources.Read more
The Route 17 Improvement Dilemma
Ramsay Adams for the Times Herald-Record
The NY State Department of Transportation recently completed a study on the proposed widening of Route 17 from two to three lanes on the 47-mile stretch between the Harriman interchange and Liberty under the guise of easing congestion and promoting economic development.
Catskill Mountainkeeper commented on the draft phase of this report, which is seriously misguided and should be reconsidered. Widening Route 17 in this area will likely increase traffic and congestion, and will certainly contribute to local air pollution while deepening New York’s dependence on climate-destroying fossil fuels. This unnecessary project will contribute to sprawl and does not address the problem of transportation inequity. Click "read more" to check out the entire op-ed.Read more
The Devil’s in the Details at the DRBC
DRBC Proposes Fracking Regulations that Put River & Communities at Risk
West Trenton, NJ - On October 28, the Delaware River Basin Commission published draft natural gas regulations that lift the current moratorium on imports of fracking wastewater into the basin and exports of water for fracking operations outside of the basin. While the Delaware River Frack Ban Coalition Organizing Committee is still reviewing the draft regulations, our organizations are already concerned with loopholes we have discovered and call on the Commission to close them in order to protect the basin’s water resources and the communities that rely on them. Click "read more" for further analysis and Mountainkeeper's comment.Read more
Local Resolutions Toolkit
Catskill Mountainkeeper is working with activists throughout the state to galvanize people to call for local resolutions in support of the Birds and Bees Protection Act. These resolutions will help lawmakers in Albany understand that municipalities are turning to them to lead when it comes to protecting pollinators and public health.
To get your local government to pass a resolution in support, you’ll need to take a couple of key actions:
- Email or call your town/village supervisor and board members explaining why the Birds and Bees Protection Act is critically important, and how they can help (sample email message below);
- Share the template resolution (below), asking them to pass it at their next meeting; and
- Once it’s passed, have your municipality send a copy of the enacted resolution to key state officials (identified in the resolution below) -- and send us a copy, too.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to [email protected] with any questions or if we can lend a hand!
Dear [town/city/village Official Title/Name],
My name is [your name] and I’m a resident and constituent of [town/city/village]. I’m writing because pollinators like birds and bees are critically threatened and our community has an opportunity to help.
Neurotoxic insecticides called neonicotinoids, or neonics, are being released into our environment across New York State. Neonics are used everywhere: from lawns to gardens to farm fields.
These insecticides are responsible for killing massive numbers of bees and other pollinators. We depend on pollinators to grow our food, and fewer pollinators means increased food prices, reduced access to healthier foods, and food scarcity that hits low-income communities and communities of color especially hard.Neonics also pose a serious threat to human healt: these insecticides are found in the water we drink, the food we eat, and our bodies. Emerging research links exposure to neonics in the womb or early in life with heart and other congenital malformations, developmental difficulties, muscle tremors, and memory loss.
There is a solution: the Birds and Bees Protection Act (BBPA). The BBPA is a New York State bill that will ban most uses of neonics, protecting pollinators and people. I’m asking for your help in demonstrating support for the bill; will you lead in our [town/village/city] passing a resolution in support of the bill?
I’ve included a template resolution below, and I’d be happy to work with you to pass it in our community. I’m also working with organizations from throughout the state who are focused on passing the BBPA this legislative session—if you’ve got any questions, I know they’d be happy to help as well.
Thank you for considering my request, and I look forward to your response.
RESOLUTION IN SUPPORT OF THE BIRDS AND BEES PROTECTION ACT
[New York S699B (Hoylman et al.) / A7429 (Englebright et al.)]
WHEREAS, the Birds and Bees Protection Act concerns use of neonicotinoids, or "neonics," which is a class of neurotoxic pesticides that includes imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, clothianidin, dinotefuran, and acetamiprid;
WHEREAS, research shows that widespread use of neonicotinoid insecticides is a leading cause of declines in honeybees as well as wild pollinators and a threat to birds, bats, fish, and entire ecosystems;
WHEREAS, New York's agricultural economy depends on healthy populations of bees and other pollinators to produce valuable and healthy foods like apples, squash, tomatoes, cherries and other top crops, worth an estimated $439 million annually;
WHEREAS, [municipality’s] agricultural economy similarly depends on healthy populations of bees and other pollinators to produce valuable and healthy crops and foods;
WHEREAS, the United States Environmental Protection Agency and other independent research have found that neonics can harm human health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found that half of Americans are regularly exposed to neonics;
WHEREAS, Federal and State water testing has detected neonics in waters across New York State, with 30% of Long Island groundwater samples containing a neonic;
WHEREAS, a recent Cornell University review of over 1,100 peer reviewed papers on neonics and cost-benefit analysis of neonics against their likely alternatives ("Cornell Report") concluded that neonic-treatments on corn, soybean, and wheat seeds — which account for roughly three-quarters of all neonic use in New York agriculture — produce "no overall net-income benefit" to farmers using them;
WHEREAS, the bill would: (1) prohibit sale and use of neonic-treated corn, soybean, and wheat seeds effective January 1, 2024; (2) prohibit non-agricultural uses of neonics on turf and ornamental plants, effective January 1, 2023; and (3) require the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to consider designating other neonic uses as a "restricted use pesticide" in order to protect bee and bird populations (a "restricted use pesticide" is a pesticide that can be purchased, possessed, or used only by a person with a commercial or purchase permit issued by DEC, and that may be subject to other restrictions on its use as determined by DEC; the bill allows DEC to permit use of neonics to combat invasive species, including but not limited to emerald ash-borer and hemlock woolly adelgid); and (4) require DEC, in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture and Markets at Cornell University, to study alternatives to neonics; and
WHEREAS, the Birds and Bees Protection Act addresses a serious threat to pollinators and ecosystems and safeguards the future of New York's food system by banning high risk, low-to-no benefit uses of neonicotinoid insecticides.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that _[municipality]_______________________:
- Does hereby support AS699B / A7429, banning neonic-treated corn, soybean, and wheat and most outdoor, non-agricultural uses of neonics; and
- Will provide a copy of this resolution to Governor Kathy Hochul; Basil Seggos, the NYS Commissioner of Department of Environmental Conservation; Howard Zucker, the NYS Commissioner of Health; Richard Ball, the NYS Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture; the New York State Senate and Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee Chairs; and our local New York Assembly Senate and Assembly representatives, [Hon. _____________ and Hon. _________________].
NYSDOT: Go Back to the Drawing Board
The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) is in the midst of a study to widen Route 17 from two to three lanes between Exit 131 (Harriman) and 103 (Monticello) in both directions. This study will inform future environmental assessments, so it’s important they get it right. Please sign the petition below by October 14, 2021 at 2pm, calling on NYSDOT to go back to the drawing board on some key points.
To Mr. Mark Tiano, PE and Paul Lo Gallo, PE, New York State Department of Transportation:
The Route 17 Transportation Corridor Planning and Environment Linkages Study (Route 17 PEL)—is based on unevaluated assumptions and contains some serious defects. The New York State Department of Transportation should not finalize the PEL until these deficiencies are addressed:
- NYSDOT did not take into account the well-documented traffic phenomenon known as “induced demand”—if NYSDOT widens Route 17, it’s likely that traffic will increase. In addition to adding more cars, widening the highway is likely to cause more traffic, create congestion, contribute to urban sprawl, spur the release of millions of tons of CO2 emissions, and result in a six-lane highway running straight through the heart of the Catskill Mountains.
- NYSDOT did not evaluate the impact of additional traffic on climate pollution as required under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), New York’s landmark climate law. While a thorough analysis may not be required at this stage in the process, failing to address this early and thoroughly sets the entire review on the wrong path. We are in a climate crisis—New York needs to turn away from fossil-fuel dependent projects;
- The Route 17 PEL study did not sufficiently analyze alternatives to widening Route 17, and therefore takes consideration of other approaches to traffic management off the board. The alternatives analysis must be revisited and redrafted to include a robust consideration of other options.
Please revise the present draft to address these issues from the start—the region and the state deserve a more thorough analysis before a project with this scope and cost is advanced.
Mountainkeepers look to halt harmful insect invasion of Catskills
It’s autumn in the Catskills and Hudson Valley, packed with opportunities to catch the fall foliage, an attraction that drives the local economy, but now has an unwelcome visitor.Read more
EPA Approved Use of Toxic “Forever Chemicals” for Fracking
A new report from Physicians For Social Responsibility reveals the shocking fact that energy companies have been using PFA (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) toxic "forever chemicals" to frack and drill natural gas wells with the blessing of EPA, which had signed off on the process a decade ago. This outrageous dereliction of duty by the EPA has left the door wide open for extensive use of these dangerous chemicals, which pose huge threats to human health and the safety of our water supply.
Fracking should be banned everywhere; as we work toward that goal, ensuring that PFA's are not allowed to be used in fracking fluids is the least EPA can do.Read more
BREAKING: Toxic Forever Chemicals Used in Fracking
NY Times uncovers shocking dereliction of duty at the US Environmental Protection Agency
July 12, 2021, Livingston Manor, NY--Hiroko Tabuchi's groundbreaking piece in today’s New York Times sent shock waves through public health and environmental organizations as advocates learned not only that energy companies are using toxic PFAS* “forever” chemicals to frack and drill natural gas wells, but also that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had actually signed off on this process, which poses huge threats to human health and the integrity of our water supply. Click "read more" to see Mountainkeeper's statement.Read more