Coalition calls on New York state legislature to enact moratorium on natural gas development
May 25, 2010
Albany, May 25, 2010 -- Yesterday representatives of more than 20 local and regional organizations called on members of the New York State Assembly and Senate to enact an immediate moratorium on high-volume hydraulic fracturing (HVHF, or hydrofracking), the technology required to extract natural gas from the Marcellus Shale. They were joined by State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (District 4), who together with Senator Joseph P. Addabbo (District 15) has introduced moratorium legislation supported by the coalition (bills A10490 and S7592).
Assemblyman Englebright stated that New York should follow the saying "Look before you leap consider the issue carefully, cautiously, and objectively." Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton (District 125), who has introduced legislation to strengthen the role of municipalities and liability for damage related to hydrofracking, said that she and others "would be swayed by real studies that protect our land, water, and health." Actor and Sullivan County resident Mark Ruffalo also spoke in favor of a moratorium, telling legislators that they are "a firewall between communities and disaster."
Hydrofracking is known to pose a danger to public health and drinking water safety due to the large amounts of hazardous chemicals used and toxic waste and wastewater generated, and has been linked to health problems and water contamination in other parts of the country. The technology also uses high levels of water from surface and groundwater sources.
The coalition emphasized that the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) could issue hydrofracking permits as early as 2011, but current gas drilling regulations pre-date the use of the technology in shale formations like the Marcellus. There are more than two dozen bills related to gas drilling from testing of water to capping abandoned wells that lawmakers have not responded to or enacted. A moratorium on hydrofracking would allow the time for the legislature and communities to address complex drilling issues in a responsible way that protects the public and water resources.
"For over a month, the nation has watched in horror the environmental catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico, where drillers were allowed to cut corners on safety and an accident was considered unlikely," said Bruce Ferguson of Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy. "Hydrofracking has never been permitted in New York and shouldn t be if it harms citizens and communities."
The coalition pointed out that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently launched a study of hydraulic fracturing and drinking water safety, which is expected to be completed in 2012 and yield the first comprehensive, peer-reviewed findings on the technology s impacts. In addition, the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement on Marcellus Shale drilling released by the DEC last fall was widely considered insufficient with regard to safeguards for people and the environment, oversight and enforcement, assessment of cumulative impacts if a large number of wells were to be permitted, analysis of the chemicals and fluids used in hydrofracking, and other factors.
"The EPA, the union representing the DEC s own scientists and technicians, diverse organizations, and thousands of residents from across the State found the SGEIS seriously flawed," said Wes Gillingham of Catskill Mountainkeeper. "The gas industry remains exempt from federal laws designed to protect public health and water and air quality New York State has the tremendous opportunity to do better by slowing the rush to drill and ensuring that the rights of its citizens are respected and its natural resources protected."
THE COALITION INCLUDED:
Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy
Citizens Campaign for the Environment
Chenango Delaware Otsego Gas Drilling Opposition Group
Clean Water New York
Damascus Citizens for Sustainability
Delaware County Neighbors
EARTHWORKS Oil & Gas Accountability Project
Gas Drilling Awareness for Cortland County
Keep Cochecton Green
Marcellus Accountability Project-Tompkins County
New York Residents Against Drilling
New Yorkers for Sustainable Energy Systems Statewide
People for a Healthy Environment, Inc.
Residents Opposing Unsafe Shale-Gas Drilling
Sierra Club, Atlantic Chapter
Sullivan Alliance for Sustainable Development
Sullivan Area Citizens for Responsible Energy Development
-- ENDS --
For more information:
- Bruce Ferguson, Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy, 845-482-5037
- Wes Gillingham, Catskill Mountainkeeper, 845-901-1029
- Nadia Steinzor, EARTHWORKS, 315-677-4111