Chemung County Rally and Legislature Meeting Report

Here’s a brief report from Doug Couchon on behalf of People for a Healthy Environment, Chemung County Alliance, Elmirans and Friends Against Fracking, and Neighbors for the Protection of Lowman and Chemung. The four groups sponsored a press conference and rally on Tuesday, October 14. After the rally, people spoke at the legislature meeting once again (this was month 10 of a concerted effort by citizens to get the legislature to renounce an application by Casella Waste to expand the county dump to accept yet more radioactive, toxic frack waste from Pennsylvania.

At the press conference, residents unveiled the new YOU ARE HERE fracking infrastructure map, which was built by Sane Energy Project and members of FrackbustersNY and many other groups statewide to show the tremendous amount of peripheral industrial activity to fracking that has been sprouting up all across the state, even as New Yorkers think the state is NOT being fracked:

The You Are Here map is a new tool for us to use in helping our friends, colleagues, associates and elected officials connect the dots. Viewing the map makes it possible to see how every ‘dot’ thereon is connected to every other. The map makes it easy for folks who do not ‘sing in the choir’ to understand how we are being harmed, and more difficult to deny the realities of the toxic industrialization going on all around us:

Couchon at press conference

The map was introduced in Chemung County on Oct. 14 during a rally and again at the county legislature meeting that followed. Be on the lookout for information about ‘You Are Here’ introduction events in a community in your region.

The map is a permanent work in progress. Dozens of major infrastructure locations appear on the map currently, but hundreds more will populate the map as we move forward.

Below find a link to media coverage of yesterday’s rally in Chemung County. Though coverage was good no footage of the mapping project made it in:

http://www.weny.com/news/local-news/chemung-gounty-worries-about-fracking-waste-101314

http://www.newsfromtown.com/index.php?/topic/1539-chemung-landfill-opponents-hold-news-conference-and-rally/

Link to photos of the event on the PHE Facebook page.

Coalition to Protect New York Monthly Meeting/Autumn PARTY

When: View in Calendar » October 29, 2014 @ 6:30 pm - 11:00 pm
Where: Bette's place

At Bette Ek’s house! Members in good standing of all our affiliate and allied groups are welcome. Come as your favorite superhero or creepy crawler, or just yourself. Bring some food or drink to share. We’ll meet for an hour, then party. We deserve it. We darn sure deserve it!

Write Maura for directions if you didn’t get the invitation: mstephens@ithaca.edu

No Frack Almanac Publishes Damning Expose of Watkins Glen FD Unpreparedness for Salt Cavern Disaster

Note that Jeremy Weir Alderson is scheduled to be in court, where he is likely to be sentenced, Wed. Aug. 20, at 5:00 p.m., by Judge Berry in Reading Town Court, 3914 County Rd. 28, Watkins Glen, 14891.

Report Says WGFD Grossly Unprepared for Crestwood Emergency

If you’ve been following the saga of the salt cavern storage of flammable gas (LPG/LNG) along the west side of Seneca Lake, you know that a series of out-of-state corporations (Inergy, Crestwood/Midstream/Arlington) have been preparing to turn the Finger Lakes region into a fossil-fuel storage and transportation hub, starting at this site in Reading, north of Watkins Glen.

You’ve also heard Jeremy Weir Alderson, editor and publisher of the No Frack Almanac, and others frequently ask in public whether there is a reasonable emergency management plan in place should a (not unlikely) accident/explosion/fire happen at the facility. And you’ve heard officials and Crestwood assure residents there’s no reason for concern, that the Watkins Glen Fire Department is well trained to act in such an emergency.

Weeks ago, Alderson filed Freedom of Information Law requests for documents relating to the facility and the preparedness of local emergency responders to protect the community. After studying the documents he received, today Alderson released an exclusive report on the readiness of the Watkins Glen Fire Department to combat potential emergencies related to the proposed expansion of the Crestwood gas-storage facility.

Some highlights of the report:

* Only nine members of the WGFD are qualified to take offensive action to
extinguish a hazmat fire.

* The WGFD has never exchanged a single piece of correspondence with
Crestwood on any subject and has never corresponded with anyone anywhere
about the potential dangers of salt-cavern gas storage.

* The WGFD does not have in its possession a map of the Crestwood facility
or a diagram of the shut-off valves for the part of the facility that is
already operational, as would be required by standard firefighting practice.

* Though the Schuyler County Emergency Services assure the public that they
do “Comprehensive all hazards pre-disaster planning” and “Pre-disaster
mitigation planning,” when it comes to Crestwood, they can present no
evidence that they have done any such planning at all.

*  In response to a Freedom of Information Law request covering the past
five years, the WGFD could not produce a single document from Crestwood
listing the hazardous materials it has on site, even though, according to
New York law (NY.GMU.LAW 209u), such documents are supposed to be filed
annually.

* The WGFD admits to having taken $15,000 (of which at least $10,000 was
solicited) from Crestwood (and its predecessor company, Inergy), but
claims to have no record of those transactions and, thus, can present no
evidence that that’s all they took.

“Would Smokey Bear take contributions from the Carelessly Thrown Match
Association?” asks Alderson. “Based on the evidence that the WGFD, itself,
provided, the WGFD’s's stated position that it is prepared to handle
possible Crestwood emergencies is simply untrue. These types of facilities
are accident prone, and the people who are supposed to protect us are
endangering us and themselves instead.”

Read the full report here.

NYC Climate Convergence 9/19-21 and People’s Climate March Sun. 9/21

When: View in Calendar » September 19, 2014 @ 9:00 am - 11:00 pm
Repeats: Daily until September 22, 2014

People around the world are fed up with political leaders’ unwillingness to take the drastic policy changes we need to slow down the weirding of our weather and help us all adjust to the radically different climate we will be experiencing over the next decades — even though the science is clear and the people have spoken. The UN Climate Summit will be held at the same time. Ours is the PEOPLE’s Climate Convergence. Things kick off with trainings and gatherings on Friday Sept. 19, all of Saturday Sept. 20 is devoted to teach-ins, workshops, and panels (including some given by CPNY members and allies), and Sunday is the People’s Climate March. The organizers are hoping this will be the biggest climate march in history and that it will compel national and global leaders to act before it’s too late.

Get details, register, see who’s speaking, sign up for transportation, housing and news alerts about the NYC Climate Convergence, and more here.

Learn about the People’s Climate March, starting at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday Sept. 21, and register here.

Flyer to share online is below.

 

 

 

Jeremy Alderson’s Sentencing for First Arrest, Wed. Aug. 20

When: View in Calendar » August 20, 2014 @ 4:30 pm - 7:00 pm
Where: View Map » Town of Reading Court, 3914 County Route 28, Watkins Glen,NY 14891, USA
Contact: Jeremy Alderson
nofrackalmanac@yahoo.com
Alderson with Susan Walker and Gary Judson at arrest, Sept. 6, 2012

Alderson with Susan Walker and Gary Judson at arrest, Sept. 6, 2012

Jeremy Alderson will be appearing before Judge Raymond H. Berry at 5:00 p.m. to be sentenced for his first conviction for “civil disobedience” outside the Crestwood facility (September 2012). It’s probably a good idea to get there early so you’re not shut out.

Town of Reading Court, 3914 County Rd 28, Watkins Glen, NY 14891

Map

Minisink U.S. Court of Appeals Hearing: 5/1/2014

email from Asha C., who works as a lead in Minisink case Compressor station, heavy industrial development in agricultural area closest to NYC and area serving as solitude for shaken 9/11 first responders…

Today’s hearing at the U.S. Court of Appeals was an intense, dramatic event. We would like to deeply thank the many supporters who traveled from near and far to be there with us to demonstrate their support- we were deeply honored to be joined by the leaders of grassroots organizations and supporters from across NY, NJ, PA, MD and DC. We packed the courtroom with a tremendous show of solidarity.

Oral arguments were heard before Circuit Judges Millet, Kavanaugh, and Wilkins. Our attorney, Carolyn Elefant, was passionate and articulate in her argument, presenting clearly FERC’s bias toward industry-held opinion in siting of infrastructure. She was actively questioned by Judges Millet and Kavanaugh. FERC’s attorney followed with a bland recital of the commission’s findings in 2012, and a defense of FERC protocol, and was confronted with an aggressive line of questioning by the judges. Then, Millennium’s lawyer, echoing the company’s claims of fulfilling customer needs and avoiding unnecessary environmental damage, received a series of heavy-hitting questions, for which he did not appear fully prepared. Finally, Elefant was allowed a rebuttal, and again swiftly and succinctly addressed all the final questions asked by the judges. Among the issues brought up in the hearing were the Wagoner Alternative/problematic ‘Neversink Segment,’ the history of the Kuprewicz Report, and the obstructions the Minisink Community faced in receiving necessary and relevant information on a timely basis. A full audio recording of today’s hearing can be accessed here:

http://www.cadc.uscourts.gov/recordings/recordings.nsf/

Rulings from the U.S. Court of Appeals take, at a minimum, four weeks, and could potentially take up to four months.

Several members of the media are covering this story- two radio interviews were conducted today (Radio Pacifica and WAMC Hudson Valley NPR), footage of our press conference was taken and will soon be available, and we’ve had steady interest from local and regional journalists- we’ll get that distributed very soon.

Thanks to all for the incredible support,

Asha C.

P.S.- we’ve just received word of industry publication EE News story on Minisink’s hearing today!
Link here- http://www.eenews.net/stories/1059998835

Best,
Asha

911 — Emergency! Water contamination map NE PA

Thank you to William Huston for the following update.

The contamination in NE Pennsylvania from gas drilling is far worse than anyone knows.
The brown towns all have known sites of water contamination.
I used the following criteria:

1) At least one site with an external water tank (“water buffalo”) receiving replacement water
2) Water filtration system installed due to contamination
3) PA DEP complaint
4) PA DEP positive determination letter

All of these towns were first identified by Laura Legere, Scranton Times Tribune, in the May 19, 2013 article, “Sunday Times review of DEP drilling records reveals water damage, murky testing methods”.

One problem with the dataset is that it is heavily redacted. In almost every request, the name of the homeowner and the address were redacted. This is one reason for the per-town granularity.

Also, there are 9 towns in Bradford County, plus 7 towns in Susquehanna County where precise locations of the sites have been determined and the names of the impacted persons known, ether by myself, or one of four confidential sources I used for this report.

A word about using confidential sources:

There are many reasons why people who get water contamination prefer to be anonymous. Here are a few:

Gas industry bullies will attack you (as the Sautners were attacked by Phelim McAleer and Energy in Depth).
Your neighbors with gas-leases will ostracize you. “Why do you want to make trouble and ruin this for all of us? Just keep your mouth shut and you’ll be taken care of.”
Your home is your largest investment. If it becomes known that your town, and your property specifically, has water contamination, your home will become worthless.

I will work with bona fide journalists, and scientific investigators in identifying my sources if a promise is made to respect the privacy of the victims.

I would say I could, fairly easily, get precise locations for some sites in about 16 towns.
(9 in Bradford and 7 in Susquehanna Co.) subject to privacy concerns.

This map shocked me.

I try to be well informed of what is going on in Pennsylvania.
However: This map shocked me.

I know that some of my confidential sources who live in the Gasfields of PA and are extremely well informed, also had no idea the extent of the water contamination.

NE PA is only 2% to 20% developed.

Notes:

Note Well: I am not saying the entire (brown) town has bad water.I am only saying that each brown town has at least one site of water contamination.
Each site may contain several affected homes.
Several towns have multiple sites, each with multiple homes.

It would be a huge task to get precise locations for these sites.

A large bulk came from Laura Legere’s RTK request,
which came back heavily redacted
(no precise address).

Totals:

Out of these totals:

29 of 37 towns in Bradford Co. (78% of all towns in the county)
15 of 27 towns in Susquehanna Co. (56% of all towns in the county)
—-
44 of 64 (69%) total towns in two counties with contaminated water.

Who Pulled Rank on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers?

by William Huston / NY Friends of Clean Air and Water
WilliamAHuston@gmail.com 607-321-7846

Here’s a strange one.

On April 7th, the last day to file a comment on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement
for the so-called “Constitution Pipeline”, the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) filed this comment: http://elibrary.ferc.gov/idmws/file_list.asp?accession_num=20140407-5245

The USACE is a party to this proceeding because they have jurisdiction for any pipeline that impacts “waters of the United States.”

Don’t try to read it the document above. Its status was quickly changed to “Privileged.”  Meaning: SECRET.

But not before we saved a copy! Read it here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/216940906/US-Army-Corps-of-Engineers-comments-on-DEIS-Constitution-Pipeline-CP13-499

A day later, they filed this comment:

http://elibrary.FERC.gov/idmws/file_list.asp?accession_num=20140408-5149

So if you compare both letters, line by line, you will see they are identical. Except for one paragraph at the end:

“In addition, the New York, Baltimore, and Buffalo District Corps of Engineers (Districts)
are in receipt of requests to extend the public comment period for the Constitution Pipeline
Company, LLC proposed 124.4 mile long, 30 inch diameter natural gas pipeline in the states of Pennsylvania and New York. FERC received requests to extend the comment period from the NYSDEC, USEPA, and USDOI. The agencies have stated the complexity of the project, along with some very specific items by the NYSDEC, necessitate additional time for staff review. The Districts have considered these requests and have decided to grant a 30-day extension until May 7, 2014 for input on the Corps regulatory process.”

(The USACE has a comment period open simultaneously to the FERC comment period.)

So why did they a) change their mind, and b) feel they had to hide this from public review?

Neither the USACE nor FERC followed their own rules regarding privileged material:

http://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/18/388.112

Such as § 388.112(b)(1):
The cover page and pages or portions of the document containing material for which privileged treatment is claimed should be clearly labeled in bold, capital lettering, indicating that it contains privileged, confidential and/or Critical Energy Infrastructure Information, as appropriate, and marked “DO NOT RELEASE.”
Whoops. Not there. Additionally, Federal law places limitations on what material can be withheld from public view. Looks like these criteria were not met either:

FOIA:  http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/5/552

So what’s going on here?

SPECULATION, partially confirmed by Kevin Bruce of the Army Corps, whom I just spoke with on the phone, who told me, the decision to retract the 30 day comment period
“was made above my pay grade”.

Both the FERC and the US Army Corps of Engineers ultimat

ely report to the Commander-in-Chief, i.e., the President of the United States, Mr. Barack “All of the Above” Obama.

This project is apparently being fast-tracked.

Afton road, March 31, 2014

Look carefully at this photo (shot 3/31/14 on I88 near Afton).

THERE IS NO FERC PERMIT YET.

So why is Constitution Pipeline Company already shipping in materials?

Is this project already been green-lighted? Is the public process just a sham? What do they know that we don’t know?

Who pulled rank on the US Army Corps of Engineers?

I’m thinking maybe it was the guy in the photo below, Mr. Commander-in-Chief, who loves fracking, pipelines, KXL, LNG exports, BP drilling in the Gulf, etc.

Copy of Jeremy’s post-hearing comments:

Once again I have proven that no one should pay any attention to anything I say about what is likely to happen in court.

To make a short story even shorter, Jerry asked the court to grant a delay so that we would have time to find out whether or not the next appeals court takes my appeal. This is the appeal we’ve already filed but which isn’t mandatory, because what I’m appealing is only the conviction on a violation, and I’m not a more respectable criminal who’s done something worse.

To my surprise, assistant DA Tunney didn’t really have any objection, saying he didn’t want to be in the position of sentencing a defendant before his conviction was final (or words to that effect) and, equally to my surprise, Judge Berry went along with it, granting me another 90 days in which to await the appeals court’s decision.

The guiding principle here is that we’re still fighting, still insisting that I was had a right to do what I did. But I use the term “guiding” loosely, because if anything’s guiding me, how come I feel like I’ve been spun around three times with a donkey’s tail in my hand?

Minisink’s Case Rescheduled for U.S. Court of Appeals May 1

The controversial Minisink case challenging both the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and Millennium Pipeline Co., LLC, has been rescheduled for a May 1 hearing at the D.C. Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Significantly, the case will set national legal precedent in regard to communities’ rights to defend themselves from unwanted and forcibly sited energy infrastructure by the oil and gas industry; if successful, Minisink, NY, will be the first community to have a brand-new gas compressor station shut down and removed from the location.

The ramifications of this case will be critical to the larger network of gas infrastructure battles in the Northeast. Developments are being closely monitored by both industry and frontline community advocacy groups; the conflict and ensuing case began in June of 2011. With two large gas-fired power plants and several new miles of lateral pipeline hinged on the viability of the Minisink compressor station, Minisink’s success in the upcoming proceedings would be a critical blow to the industry’s plans for the state of NY.

Oral arguments will be presented before Circuit Judges Kavanaugh, Millett, and Wilkins. Both Millett and Wilkins are recent Obama appointees, while Kavanaugh has served on the D.C. Appeals Court since 2006.

Represented by the D.C.-based attorney Carolyn Elefant, ten community-appointed Minisink residents, collectively known as ‘Minisink Residents for Environmental Preservation and Safety’ (MREPS), are the Petitioners in the case. As Respondent and Intervenor in the case, respectively, FERC and Millennium Pipeline’s legal representation will be compelled to split the allotted time for corresponding argument.

In July of 2012, Minisink set rare legal precedent with a 3-2 split vote at FERC to approve the Minisink Compressor Station, with two commissioners dissenting- both the Chairman at the time, Jon Wellinghoff, as well as Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur. FERC has an overwhelming 99% approval rate of all projects that come before them. The findings of the U.S. Court of Appeals will have far-reaching implications for the industry, a host of communities across the country currently and soon to battle infrastructure expansion, and advocacy and alliance groups across the region.

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For more information on the Minisink community and Minisink’s case, please visit www.minisinkmatters.org  / For press inquires, contact Asha Canalos at ashacanalos@gmail.com  / 917. 582. 8409