November 14, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Kate Bartholomew, 607-226-7371 (mobile)
WATKINS GLEN, NY –The Coalition to Protect New York is calling for its members and affiliated organizations and allies to join in a public denouncement of the DEC’s series of public hearings on the revised draft supplemental generic environmental impact statement (SGEIS) scheduled to begin this week.
“The DEC’s hearings are a sham,” said Maura Stephens of Tioga County, a cofounder of the Coalition to Protect New York. “The SGEIS is an embarrassment and a joke. And the DEC itself is a conflicted travesty of what it should be.”
Regulatory agencies were intended to protect people and nature, but they’ve instead become permitting agencies serving industry and enabling politicians to avoid making hard decisions. “We the People know this,” said Stephens, “and we defy this insult to our intelligence and sovereignty. By publically declaring this truth, we are using the DEC’s hearings as an educational opportunity to reveal the fundamental flaws in the system.”
The first hearing will be held on Wednesday, November 16, in Dansville and the second on Thursday, November 17, in Binghamton. Each has two sessions: 1-4 p.m. and 6-9 p.m.
Coalition members will join in the press conference and rally to eliminate fracking in New York State outside the hearings, and send various representatives inside to make a statement on behalf of the coalition.
“We do encourage people to send in written comments if they choose,” said Kate Bartholomew of Schuyler County, also a cofounder of CPNY. “But we want to make a strong, unified statement in person. These forums are being held simply to mollify the public and make us feel as if we’re being heard. The DEC is ‘triple-dipping’—having us comment on a draft SGEIS at the same time we are asked to comment on draft regulations and permits that are to be derived from the finalized version of that same SGEIS.
“But, let’s face it, our health and well-being, and our previously submitted tens of thousands of informed, fact-based arguments apparently don’t sufficiently concern the DEC or Gov. Cuomo. If they did, we’d already have eliminated fracking in New York State.”
There is plentiful and well-publicized evidence that the process of fracking poisons water, air, and food supplies; and that it sickens and kills people. Any economic boon it might bring is short-term and benefits a few, while others gain nothing except pollution and a destroyed quality of life. As Cornell Professor Robert Howarth has pointed out, it contributes to greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and therefore hastens catastrophic climate change.
“Fracking is a crime on many levels,” said Jack Ossont of Yates County, another CPNY cofounder. “And we don’t regulate crimes, we penalize criminals.”
CPNY and other groups believe that fracking must be removed from the oversight of an executive (governor)-controlled agency (DEC) and put in the hands of the courts, where criminal class C felonies are decided by a jury of our peers.
New Law Criminalizes Fracking
CPNY has strongly endorsed a new law being unveiled on Wednesday in several venues across the state, including Dansville. At a noon press conference, CPNY General Council allies FrackBustersNY and SPAN (Sovereign People’s Action Network) will share NYS Public Law No. 1, written by grass-roots anti-fracking activists from around the state.
Members of CPNY feel this law is truly “. . . of the people, by the people and for the people.” In summary, the law “amends the penal code to criminalize hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and related activity, and to subject all persons, corporations and government entities that engage in fracking and related activity to criminal penalties.”
This means that anyone engaging in fracking or fracking-related activities is committing a crime, and if convicted will pay a steep fine and do serious jail time.
Ossont pointed out, “We’re not talking about the poor guy driving the frack-water waste truck. We’re talking about corporate officers, administrators and directors—those legally accountable to the citizens.”
CPNY urges its members and affiliates to carpool to the press conference Wednesday at noon and rally at 5 p.m. outside the hearings (1-4 and 6-9 p.m.) in Dansville. Also urged is attendance at the press conference at noon and the rally at 5 p.m. outside the hearings in Binghamton (Thurs., 1-4 and 6-9 p.m.).
Those who decide to speak inside at the hearings are urged to preface their three minutes of remarks with a statement highlighting that the hearings are a sham, and that the entire regulatory process simply grants permits to poison. Further, that the speaker does not recognize any authority or legitimacy of the regulatory system but is simply there to make a statement for the public record.