Water is our most Precious Resource

Monday, March 29, 2010

EPA is studying the effects of Hydrofracking on Fresh Water

For anyone who's interested in learning what the federal government is doing at this time, here it is:


Hopefully, the Frack Act will start passing through Congress and stop this madness before it begins.

I heard recently - from Josh Fox, actually in the interview on PBS (he created "Gasland"), that it is not 10,000 wells that are planned, but more like 50,000 or 60,000 in NYState. It's so absurd as to be almost funny....

Gotta cut this one short....

More later!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

All the Good News!!

I'm so excited!

There's lots of rumbling on the national level about Hydrofracking. It's not just a NY issue; it's not just a Marcellus issue; it's not just a natural gas issue! There are actual plans to hydrofrack for OIL in the Dakotas and Montana now.

So, now to the good news:

Last week, on St. Patrick's Day, President Obama made a public statement that any company that wants to drill for gas or oil should disclose the ingredients used in the hydrofracking fluid.

Just from today's news in the Washington Post: "A federal judge has approved a first-of-its-kind settlement requiring the government to suspend 38,000 acres of oil and gas leases in Montana so it can gauge how oil field activities contribute to climate change."

That's GREAT!

Plus, the EPA now has $1.5 million to do a national survey of the cumulative impact of hydrofracking!! This is EXCELLENT news!!

In Sullivan County, last week the legislature voted unanimously to ban drilling on public lands. That's a strong show of what we think of hydrofracking in this county!

For those of you in NYC who are interested in attending public forums on drinking water protection, there is an important event coming up:

April 1: John Jay College (Gerald W. Lynch Theater) 899 10th Avenue @ 59th Street, from 7 - 9:30 pm. Several speakers will talk about the effect of Hydrofracking for gas in the NYC watershed.

The tide is turning. Now that the Healthcare bill has passed, the Senate will open up to do other work, and we hope that the Frack Act will come to the forefront soon!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

All kinds of ways to be involved

Perhaps there's never been a better time for making a difference in our world. I think I've said that before - but I'm sure it's been in the last year! If you are connected at all, you will hear about people taking action in so many different ways, and I am finding it so inspiring!

Yesterday I attended the first meeting of a group called "Women United for Sustainable Technologies" (www.we-must.com) in Honesdale, PA. Although the people who attended this first meeting are all "activated" by the threats to our environment from hydrofracking, the issue is much more broad than this single issue. Sustainable technologies are the future of our survival, and it is fundamentally true that digging for oil and gas are not included in that list!

It's a great time to take national action on this issue. If you are interested in learning more, or participating in any way, please visit their website to learn what you can do. The next meeting is scheduled for April 17, 2010.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

What Do Americans Really Know?

After talking to people at the library and the school and the supermarket and other general meeting places, I am coming to the conclusion that most people have zero idea about what's happening in the environment around them.

I compare this to when I was a kid in the '70s, and I think there was more awareness back then… and the education of the American citizens actually led to a big cleanup of rivers, parks, forests, etc.

But now, something different is going on. Maybe there's too much information, leading to an information overload. Maybe the chemical companies are doing a stellar job at advertising. Maybe people are numbed by what they're seeing on TV and in the movies. Life is hard right now, and I guess some people just don't want to expend energy on anything else aside from just surviving.

Compared to other first world countries around the world, Americans are not informed. The wool is being pulled over our collective eyes, and it's very hard to understand what the end game is. Our bodies are full of horrific toxins, we're addicted to a sedentary lifestyle, and what most people consider to be "news" is actually laser-crafted propaganda. Our country is completely fractured between the right and the left, and we're headed toward a bleak-looking future.

Corporate interests have taken over our government.

What does this mean? It means we have very little food choices compared to just 30 years ago. For those who pay attention and want to eat non-chemical food, the choices are almost nothing. For the rest, it means their bodies are being polluted by horrific chemicals without their knowledge. The head of the USDA, Tom Vilsack, is an advocate of industrial agriculture business, Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), and has always supported big business over local farmers who have tried to protect their own crops from cross-pollination with GMOs.

It means that our health care system is completely corrupt, even with this "change" that seems to be happening right now. Whatever bill passes into law will be more for the benefit of the health insurance companies and pharmaceutical firms, than for the citizens, because they are so powerful in government. If there are 40 million citizens who are now without healthcare, how do you think big business will profit if those people are forced to pay monthly premiums??? 40 million X an off-the-cuff figure of $400 per month = $16 billion extra per month!

In New York right now we are dealing with the oil and gas industries, who want to come in, industrialize our landscape, poison our water, in order to make trillions of dollars in profits. There is no attention paid to the fact that our fresh water supply is extremely limited, and that in reality, our water is much more precious than any gas to be extracted. There is no thought to the future of our standard of living. There is about to be huge scale hydrofracking for oil in the Dakotas soon, so this is not just a NY issue. No concern for global warming or renewable energy.

Everything in this century is about corporate profit. Our government is owned by big business, and the president and congress are literally hog-tied because of the huge financial investment that big business has in the government.

In a way, it's pretty simple to see what has happened since Reagan. Regulations were removed, companies did whatever they wanted to do, and now we're dealing with these huge companies that are "too big to fail" which essentially means that they're too big to bust apart, and too big to say "No" to.

And yet, despite these realities, I continue to fight for non-toxic products for my family, for clean fresh water and air. I'm still an idealist who hopes that we can turn it around and gain back control of our future.

What are your thoughts?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Kudos to Catskill Mountainkeeper

When I first moved to the Catskills in 2008, one of the first people I met was Ramsay Adams, founder of the Catskill Mountainkeeper. He and Wes Gillingham took a few minutes out of their day to introduce me to some of the issues facing the area, of which hydrofracking was high on the list.

Their research, education, organization and dissemination of information on the subject of hydrofracking in New York has been absolutely top notch, and because of their work, many other community-sponsored organizations have come to life in the Marcellus Shale area. The fundamental concept of keeping our pure water pure is at the heart of every statement, every lecture, every press release.

Wes Gillingham has been EVERYWHERE there has been a Hydrofracking conversation, and his intelligence, eloquence, passion and humor has given thousands upon thousands of people a real voice. Wes, you're a giant, and not just in height!

I just want to give these guys, and this organization, a huge THANK YOU for your tireless efforts and courage! The work you're doing is consummate, and VERY appreciated by so many people around the state!!!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Panel on Gas Drilling, March 8, 2010 SUNY New Paltz

After the high emotions and uber-packed auditoriums of the DEC's community-based forums of Fall '09, tonight's Forum on the Future of Gas Drilling in New York State was relaxed, with an engaged crowd ranging from my 6 year old son to college students to concerned grandparents.

Presented by Jonathan Schein, of Schein Media, the forum was presented as a means of educating residents about the issues surrounding Hydraulic Fracturing (otherwise known as Hydrofracking, or fracking) to "liberate" natural gas from the Marcellus Shale formation in New York state, so that they can make an informed decision regarding the security of New York's energy, environmental, and economic future.

Noting that only .1% of the energy produced in 2009 came from Solar Energy, Mr. Schein pointed out that it might be two to three decades before renewable energy becomes a truly viable alternative to fossil fuels. However, he failed to mention hydropower, a huge resource in New York state, biomass, wind, or other forms of renewable energy.

His first question to the panel was, "Where does the leadership come from?" concerning hydofracking in New York.

Stuart Gruskin of the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC) responded that Governor Paterson has already said, "Think First, Drill Later" and to this end, the DEC is taking it's time to consider all potentially damaging aspects of hydrofracking. It is a scientific issue, not a political issue. New York State has a great reputation for protecting its environment, and that will not change.

Mr. Schein's second question was, "Is the Draft Supplemental good enough?" (The Draft Supplemental, aka "dSGEIS" is an 800 page document produced by the DEC in October 2009 which was supposed to set the standards for Hydrofracking in New York)

Scott Rotruck, VP of Chesapeake Energy, said that these forums have been imperative conversations in protecting the environment, and that drilling will be successful because of the process.

Kate Sinding, Senior Attorney for Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), responded that because of New York's unique position concerning its environmental review process, we have the opportunity to take our time examining and managing the risks before the first drill goes in the ground. The dSGEIS has significant gaping holes, and New York is legally required to fill in those holes before drilling.

Wes Gillingham of Catskill Mountainkeeper said that we need to realize that hydrofracking will be the industrialization of our landscape, and this inherently is an unstable process. Having looked around the country at how the regulatory process has been dealt with, he found only circular reasoning which benefits the gas industry. Cumulative Impact (the effect on infrastructure, public health, and the environment) may be difficult to predict, but we cannot afford to take a chance with it.

James Gennaro, Chairman of the New York City Council Environmental Protection Committee,
commented that truly, hydrofracking should be federally regulated.

Mr. Gruskin of the NYDEC responded to these criticisms by saying "that permits will only be issued when drilling will enhance and enliven both private property owners, the public, and the environment. The sDGEIS was designed as a context for environmentalists to come back to us and guide us. The DEC understands that they are beholden both to the laws, and the public acceptance standard. What's great about New York State, is that it has the ability to go above and beyond what the federal standards are in many different contexts. For instance, we can require that the drilling adhere to the Safe Drinking Water Act. There is a real need to be cautious, and it's early to say that the sDGEIS has failed."

Mr. Schein's third question concerned a major divide between upstate and downstate residents, concerning the rights of landowners in the NYC watershed to drill on their property.

Councilman Gennaro replied that the reality is, that these people are living in an area that provides water to 9,000,000 people. It is the only unfiltered water supply in the country that has any development whatsoever. Residents who want to drill need to respect that they are living in this unique situation.

Mr. Gruskin responded, saying that 70% of the NYC watershed is owned privately, and the state owns 4x as much land as NYC. The DEC expends great energy trying to make sure that the watershed is preserved. From the DEC's perspective, there are 2 things that need to be addressed: 1) how to develop a protocol to protect water from contamination, and 2) make a complete study of the effects of industrialization. The DEC has to take into consideration the people who own private land in the watershed as well as NYC.

Mr. Rotruck mentioned that Chesapeake Energy holds the only rights to drilling in the NYC watershed, and promised that his company would not drill in the NYC watershed, as "a business decision". He talked about how hydrofracking is the least intrusive way of obtaining energy. (However, he consistently refuses to address Chesapeake Energy's policy's on Cumulative Impact.)

Wes Gillingham stated that the important reality to remember about this whole conversation, is that it's about communities trying to take control of their health and safety. For instance, In Onondoga County, they have voted to ban drilling in their own watershed, and have petitioned Governor Paterson to ban drilling in their county.

Kate Sinding deviated from the question, and stated that there is still no mention of renewables in Chesapeake's conversation, or Wastewater or Cumulative Impact. Wastewater is heavily contaminated with NORM (naturally occurring radioactive materials), heavy metals, biological contaminants, and whatever chemicals are injected to begin with. Toxicologists call it the the “worst water ever seen” and it is generated in massive quantities. Something has to be done with it. How and where will it be treated?

Finishing the forum was Congressman Maurice Hinchey of the 22nd District of New York, who is a member of the House Appropriations Committee and the House Natural Resources Committee. He has served 30 years in office.

Congressman Hinchey educated us about a 2004 study by the Department of the Interior, the results of which "proved" that it is not necessary for gas drillers to disclose the chemicals they use to drill. The subsequent 2005 Energy Policy Act altered the Safe Drinking Water Act to exclude this industry from culpability. The purpose of this was to speed up the drilling process, and make it more profitable.

Mr. Hinchey is not opposed to drilling, as long as it is safe and secure. It needs vigorous oversight and regulations to protect the environment and public health.

The toxic chemicals in fracking water include agents which are toxic to human health, via water and air. The sDGEIS does not even begin to address this toxicity, as the DEC failed to conduct the required analysis. Consequently, this document should not be approved by the governor.

"We need to hold the gas industry accountable for its drilling practices," he said. To this end, he co-authored the The American Clean Energy and Security Act (aka the Frack Act), which would require Hydrofracking to be federally regulated, and would require drilling companies to disclose the chemicals used in Fracking water. This bill passed the House of Representatives in June, 2009, but is awaiting the floor in the Senate.

Mr. Hinchey strongly believes that the federal government should be increasing its investments and incentives for clean technologies, as he has been doing in New York. He estimates that he will have created 1,000 new jobs by the end of 2011 in the area of renewable energy.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


An interactive town hall meeting to discuss pros and cons of drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale deposits will feature U.S. Congressman Maurice Hinchey as well as New York City, New York State, and gas industry representatives.

The event will take place Monday, March 8 from 5:45 to 8:00pm
on the SUNY New Paltz campus.

The event features a panel discussion between James Gennaro, chairman of the New York City Council Environmental Protection Committee, Kate Sinding, senior attorney for Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), David Spigelmyer, vice president of government relations for Chesapeake Energy, Stuart Gruskin, executive deputy commissioner, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and Wes Gillingham, program director, CatskillMountainkeeper. ScheinMedia founder and CEO Jonathan A. Schein will serve as a moderator of the panel.

The panel discussion will be followed by a town hall forum for the audience to pose questions for the speakers and a closing keynote by U.S. Congressman Maurice Hinchey.


Parking: Use Lot 2 for Lecture Center, located on the western edge of the campus off Fairview Ave. From intersection of Rte. 299/32 and Rte. 208, turn south on Rte. 208, then turn left (east) onto Hasbrouck Ave., turn right onto Tricor Ave., turn left onto Mohonk Ave. and finally right onto Fairview Ave. Alternately, park at Sojourner Truth Library lot. Visit: www.newpaltz.edu/map for campus map.

For further information about this event, contact Paul McGinniss at greenadvocate@scheinmedia.com or (845) 626-2999.