Tag Archives: Pennsylvania

“Drill Baby Drill” Film Coming to Spencer, Endicott

When: View in Calendar » April 10, 2013 @ 7:00 pm – April 12, 2013 @ 9:00 pm
Where: Spencer & Endicott
Cost: Suggested donations of $5 or more per person to cover transportation and lodging costs
Categories: Broome Tioga
Tags: community Drill Baby Drill Endicott energy film fracing gas drilling hydrofracking Lech Kowalski Pennsylvania Poland shale gas Spencer sustainability

The new documentary Drill Baby Drill will have its Southern Tier premiere in Spencer on Wednesday, April 10, and another showing in Endicott on Friday, April 12.

Filmmaker Lech Kowalski, a native of Utica who currently lives and works in Paris, France will be present for the screening and for the discussion following the 84-minute film.

The film, which was made in Poland and in Pennsylvania, tells the story of a group of Polish farmers who band together to protect their land when unconventional shale-gas drilling (fracking) threatens. It also looks at the effects of ongoing drilling on farmers and their communities in Pennsylvania.

The film’s power derives in part from its refusal to provide easy answers to the questions it raises about corporate power and its effect on democracy, and about the tensions between our demand for energy and the necessity of protecting our air, water, farmland, and food supply. The subject should be of strong, immediate interest to residents of New York, where energy companies are leasing land with plans to do similar drilling.

EVENTS LOCATIONS and INFORMATION

Wednesday, April 10, 7 p.m, Spencer Town Hall, 79 E. Tioga St., Spencer, sponsored by SaVE, RAFT – Residents Against Fracking Tioga, and Coalition to Protect New York.

Friday, April 12, 7 p.m., United Methodist Church, 53 McKinley Ave., Endicott

The events are free and open, but sponsoring groups, which do not have the resources of the megabillion-dollar fossil-fuel corporations, suggest donations of $5 or more per person to cover transportation and lodging costs.


About filmmaker Lech Kowalki

Kowalski has won wide acclaim over 35+ years as an independent filmmaker. His large body of work has won awards and been the subject of retrospectives at international film festivals.  This film was shown recently in the French Senate, and on French and German television (with high ratings). It will be shown to European Parliament on April 23, prior to theatrical release.

Drill Baby Drill film description

One day the people who live in a small village located in eastern Poland near the Ukrainian border, an ecologically pristine agricultural area called the “lungs of Poland,” discover that Chevron, the world’s fourth largest energy corporation, plans to build a shale gas well in their village. At first the villagers are not against the construction of the gas well, but research reveals that having a shale gas well so near farms might not be such a good idea. The farmers mobilize. They appeal to politicians and government institutions to stop the construction, but their requests are met with silence. Suddenly Chevron sends bulldozers to start construction. Lech Kowalski was there to film the first-ever farmer rebellion against Chevron. But energy companies and the Polish government hope to hit a golden shale gas jackpot, and the odds are against the farmers winning. The story about their struggle weaves around realities that are taking place in Pennsylvania, which industry has called the “Saudi Arabia” of North America. It’s too late to stop the harms in Pennsylvania, but can the farmers win in Poland? What happens . . . is a surprise.

From Oil & Gas Journal: Penn Virginia to expand Marcellus gas gathering system

HOUSTON, May 23

05/23/2012

By Christopher E. Smith

OGJ Technology Editor-Pipelines/Midstream

 

Penn Virginia Resource Partners will begin building natural gas pipeline extensions in the Marcellus shale in Pennsylvania, providing an outlet for producers to link to El Paso Corp.’s Tennessee Gas Pipeline and Williams Cos.’ Transcontinental pipeline for shipment to markets in the US Northeast. Penn Virginia reached transport agreements with Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Southwestern Energy, Range Resources Inc., and Inflection Energy, to underpin the extensions.

Penn Virginia plans to begin work on extending its 30-in. OD Lycoming West trunkline by 19 miles through Lycoming County and into Tioga County, Pa., within 2 weeks for completion by yearend. Penn Virginia also will build laterals for Shell and Range Resources to move gas from wellheads to Lycoming West for transport to the Transco line and by 2014 to Tennessee Gas Pipeline 300.

Under the 20-year Shell agreement, Penn Virginia will build a 24-in. OD lateral by this year’s fourth quarter, which will connect the Lycoming County system to Shell’s Texas Creek gathering system in Bradford County, Pa. Penn Virginia will complete another 16-in. OD lateral by yearend 2013 or early 2014, connecting the Lycoming County system to Shell’s Wellsboro Loop gathering system in Tioga County, Pa. Penn Virginia says these laterals will provide operational flexibility for Shell to move gas south to Transco, as well as the ability to move gas between the 24-in. lateral and Shell’s proprietary pipeline systems.

The Range Resources agreement provides for gathering, compression, and related services under terms similar to those of existing agreements, as well as construction of lateral lines and compression facilities, with a multiyear build-out schedule, staged to follow Range Resources’ drilling program.

The Inflection agreement dedicates defined acreage in Lycoming County, east of Penn Virginia’s existing Lycoming County system, to Penn Virginia, and provides Inflection with firm volume capacity and compression services, and a connection to Transco. Penn Virginia will build the gathering system in five phases designed to match Inflection’s drilling and production schedule, with construction of each subsequent phase tied to Inflection’s achieving certain well completion and production milestones.

Assuming all milestones are met, plans call for a total of 10 miles of 16-in. OD trunkline and 15 miles of lateral gathering lines, together with associated compressor stations, providing an expected total system capacity of 380 MMcfd by 2013.

The 15-year agreement with Southwestern provides for a firm take-or-pay capacity commitment in years 2 through 8, with an option to increase that commitment during this period. The agreement also provides Southwestern with interruptible capacity subject to availability.

Penn Virginia last month agreed to a $1 billion purchase of Chief Oil & Gas’s Marcellus gas gathering assets (OGJ Online, Apr. 10, 2012). The company will spend about $380 million between 2012 and 2018 on natural gas infrastructure.

 

See original article here

From AlterNet: Shocking Conflict of Interest: Private Water Companies Partner With Fracking Lobby

Shocking Conflict of Interest: Private Water Companies Partner With Fracking Lobby

Selling water to drillers, two of the nation’s biggest private water utilities may soon profit from treating the wastewater.

American Independent News Network

By Sarah Pavlus

 

Two of the country’s largest private water utility companies are participants in a massive lobbying effort to expand controversial shale gas drilling — a heavy industrial activity that promises to enrich the water companies but may also put drinking water resources at risk.

The situation — which some watchdogs describe as a troubling conflict of interest — underscores the complex issues raised by the nationwide push to privatize infrastructure and services like water, prisons, and roads.

The water companies — American Water and Aqua America — are leading drinking water suppliers in Pennsylvania, where drilling is booming. They also sell water to gas companies — which use a drilling technique that requires massive amounts of water — and have expressed interest in treating drilling wastewater, a potentially lucrative opportunity.

These investor-owned, publicly traded water utility companies are also dues-paying “associate members” of the gas industry’s powerful Marcellus Shale Coalition, a fact confirmed by coalition spokesman Travis Windle, who says associate members pay $15,000 annually in dues. “Our associate members are really the backbone of the industry,” adds Windle.

Both water companies serve millions of people across the country — Aqua America operates in 11 states and American Water in more than 30.

The coalition, which is led by major gas producers, contends that “responsible development of natural gas” will bolster the region’s economy while providing an important source of domestic energy. It has reported over $2 million in Pennsylvania lobbying expenditures since 2010.

Aqua America joined the coalition in 2010 and Pennsylvania American Water — a subsidiary of American Water — joined in 2011, according to the coalition’s quarterly magazine, which publishes a full member list in each issue.

Shale gas drillers use a combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” to extract gas from the Marcellus formation in Pennsylvania. The controversial technique forces millions of gallons of water — mixed with sand and chemicals — into the ground to crack the shale rock and release gas. In addition to the potential risks posed by actual fracturing, the process produces large amounts of toxic wastewater that can be difficult to dispose of safely.

The Environmental Protection Agency is currently conducting a congressionally-mandated study “to investigate the potential adverse impact that hydraulic fracturing may have on water quality and public health.” Pennsylvania is home to three of the seven sites selected for the nationwide study.

Separately, the EPA is testing the water of some Pennsylvania residents who say that nearby gas drilling contaminated their wells. According to the EPA, early test results indicate the water is safe to drink, however, some environmentalists disagree with that analysis.

In the meantime, the water companies are selling water to the drillers while calling for fracking to be done in an environmentally responsible manner. In a presentation to investors last month, American Water stated that it is “realizing additional revenues from water sales to drilling companies while remaining vigilant in protecting our water sources.” In the presentation, the company noted it is “currently selling water to gas drillers at 34 distribution points in Pennsylvania,” and that it “sold 250.4 million gallons of water to gas drillers from January through December of 2011, producing $1.6 million in revenues.”

(Some public water utilities sell to drillers too, but no public utilities are part of the Marcellus Shale Coalition.)

American Water spokesman Terry Maenza says the company’s support for environmental protection is unchanged by its role in the shale coalition and that it is also a member of numerous environmental groups.

“By the nature of our business, we will continue to be stewards of the environment, ensuring water source protection,” says Maenza.

The company isn’t currently in the drilling wastewater treatment business, according to Maenza, though during a quarterly earnings call last year, American Water CEO Jeff Sterba told investors, “We are very definitely looking and working in the wastewater treatment area.” Maenza declined to comment on any specific initiatives. Aqua America executive Karl Kyriss says his company’s involvement in the coalition helps protect water resources.

“By participating, we can have some direct input into the group that is looking to support development of the Marcellus Shale,” says Kyriss. “But we are very much committed that it be done in an environmentally sensitive and protected manner. And we think we can do that better from the inside than just sort of watching what happens.”

Aqua America is aggressively positioning itself to take advantage of what CEO Nick DeBenedictis has described to investors as a “water-energy nexus that could have a positive impact on the future of our company.” In recent years, the company has made sizeable acquisitions in Texas and Ohio — states that, like Pennsylvania, are home to large shale gas plays — and is also building a pipeline in Pennsylvania to supply water to drillers.

DeBenedictis believes the pipeline will ease the wear and tear on roads and the environment currently caused by trucks carrying water to wells. Recently, however, that pipeline has come under fire from local anti-drilling activists because the project will displace dozens of residents from a mobile home park.

Like American Water, Aqua America is not currently in the drilling wastewater treatment business, but may expand into that market in the future.

Some environmental advocates see potential conflicts between the interests of the private water industry and the interests of drinking water consumers.

“If American Water and Aqua America wanted to ensure that their water supplies were protected, they would support a national ban on hydraulic fracturing for shale gas,” argues Mary Grant, a researcher at Food and Water Watch, which has reported on Aqua America’s ties to the coalition. “But, instead of acting on the precautionary principle, they are paying thousands of dollars a year to an industry coalition that advocates for shale gas development, despite the risks to water quality.”

“We are concerned that these relationships encourage investor owned water utilities to endorse shale gas development despite its risk to public water supplies,” Grant says. Eric Goldstein, a senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, adds, “Sometimes the interests of private ownership are inconsistent with the concept of preserving our water resources in the public trust for future generations. And the potential clashing of those interests is why these questions have been raised about whether for-profit companies ought to be running public water supplies.”

 

See original story here

From Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection: DEP Fines Ultra Resources Inc. $40,000 for Operating Illegal Potter County Transfer Station

DEP Fines Ultra Resources Inc. $40,000 for Operating Illegal Potter County Transfer Station

Company Was Illegally Storing Raw Flowback Fluid at Fowler Well Pad

WILLIAMSPORT — The Department of Environmental Protection has fined Ultra Resources Inc. of Wellsboro, Tioga County, $40,000 for operating an illegal transfer station at a well pad in West Branch Township, Potter County.

DEP staff inspected the site in late February 2011 and found 47 wheelie storage tanks on-site that were holding more than 760,000 gallons of raw flowback fluid that Ultra was using for hydraulic fracturing at other area sites.

“This kind of activity requires a residual waste transfer station permit from the department,” DEP East Region Oil and Gas Program Manager Jennifer Means said. “Because no wells were ever drilled at this site, and because the well permits actually expired while this activity was taking place, we determined that Ultra never intended to use the stored fluid for drilling at this site.”

Department inspections conducted in March and July 2011 documented additional violations of the Oil and Gas Act, including the failure to post well permit numbers at the site.

DEP issued a notice of violation to Ultra in late July 2011, and then discovered additional violations during an inspection the following month. Those violations included flowback fluids around the wheelie tanks and on the containment liner; failure to properly stabilize several areas of the well pad and access road; and improper construction of a sediment basin.

Ultra submitted a report to DEP in early October 2011 that documented the corrective actions it took at the Fowler well site to address the violations. A DEP inspection in November 2011 confirmed that all violations had been corrected.

Help! Our Friends in Dimock Need Water Donations & Delivery Trucks/Drivers

We received this plea from Craig Stevens in Dimock, on behalf of the families whose water was poisoned by fracking; Their fresh water delivery is being stopped as of today. Please help if you can, and attend the Rally for Dimock Water next Tuesday, December 6. Craig’s letter was edited lightly.

—–
Hello Friends,

The water deliveries are stopping today 11/30/11 to our friends in Dimock [whose wells were poisoned by fracking].

I am coordinating the donated use and availability of water trucks and drivers from any communities that offer assistance. Penn American Water has stepped up to provide a potable source in Montrose to fill up, unless [you can] fill up at home before driving to Dimock.

The lawyers at Napoli, Bern and Ripka are preparing a liability release form for the donors stating that the water is for shower, bath and laundering only, so we also have to ask people to bring drinking water immediately. If you can’t get water sooner and are coming to the Rally for Dimock Water on 12/06/11, please bring drinking water then in 1, 2.5 or 5 gallon bottles.

If you have a community that is willing to donate the truck and driver, let me know immediately so we can schedule them.

Matt Ryan, the mayor of Binghamton, has agreed to help out. We are asking anyone else interested in helping to contact me ASAP. We are trying to get the first deliveries scheduled for tomorrow or Friday at the very latest.

When we meet on 12/06/11 in Dimock, I will be praising the people who are offering their help and exposing any of those opposing this effort, like [PA governor] Corbett and [DEP head] Krancer.

Please have anyone interested in helping call me ASAP, as we want to recognize them on Tuesday. We encourage more communities to help their neighbors and show the world what good people can do when we think of others instead of ourselves first.

We are also looking for Major Donors or Philanthropists to raise the funds needed to build the Pipeline that was promised but stopped by the DEP and Pa last year.

The cost is in the 12 million dollar range, but we are looking at loan availability. We need a financial backer who believes in the cause at this season of giving.

Today is the time to step up and get this done. As I said at the DEC hearing in Binghamton, ” Three and a half years is Enough.”

Thank you for all you have done and for helping us show our families in Dimock that there are still good people in the world and we are grateful to help if we can.

Thank You.

Craig L. Stevens
6th Generation Landowner
Silver Lake Township, Pa.
570-967-2280

You can also write to Craig at clscraigstevens AT earthlink DOT net.

Important Action for Faith Communities: Share with Yours This Weekend!

Please print this out or otherwise share this important letter from one of CPNY’s cofounders, Maura Stephens, with your faith community, if you have one.
———
Dear Friends in Faith,

Please read the brief article pasted below, about Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light’s statement on fracking for shale-gas. PIPL is “a community of congregations, faith-based organizations, and individuals of faith responding to climate change as a moral issue, through advocacy, energy conservation, energy efficiency, and the use of clean, renewable energy.”

PIPL’s statement is flawed in that it leaves open the door for a certain amount of poisoning of air, water, croplands, and communities — but it offers a good starting-point model for a New York interfaith initiative based on more solid legal, health, and scientific ground. CPNY can help your faith community or interfaith community craft a meaningful and effective statement.

Many people of various faiths share a deep commitment to social justice and the greater good. We do not know if there is a similar coalition of faith groups already working on this issue in New York State, but if there is not, we urge faith communities to get together and make something like Pennsylvania’s IPL quickly take shape here. This is truly an issue of morality and social justice. And industry is moving quickly.  Governor Andrew Cuomo makes no secret that he is eager to let drilling begin here, and New York is not even remotely safe from fracking, despite what you may have read or heard.

We sincerely hope you will learn more about fracking, if you have not already, and then get together quickly to discuss crafting and issuing a statement and mobilizing your congregations to fight for a total ban on fracking. A total ban in New York State is the only way to save God’s beautiful creations, which we laud and cherish, as well as people, from this destructive, filthy, and soulless industrial activity.

Not only is New York at great imminent peril; 34 states and numerous countries are under attack by this increasingly rapacious and reckless industry that is pulling out all the stops — spending more than $130 million this year alone — to hoodwink legislators and the public into thinking that “natural” gas is a “clean, safe, and domestic bridge fuel” to a sustainable energy future.

As far as such propaganda goes, nothing could be further from the truth.

If you need more information to help get you started, we recommend showing the Academy Award-nominated 2010 documentary film Gasland as the basis for congregational conversation. CPNY can also provide several documents from our own publications as well as from Food & Water Watch and other groups, all of which offer good background on fracking and why we cannot allow it to ruin our our precious water, air, and croplands; our health; our communities; and our way of life.

This is not hyperbole; we really are in a fight for our lives and our future.

Here’s the link to Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light’s page on this issue: http://www.paipl.org/index_files/marcellus.htm

Please forward this to others in your interfaith circles, and if you already have a statewide interfaith list with which you can share this, please do so.

We are just the messenger and can’t help to coordinate activities, but the Coalition to Protect New York can help by recommending speakers and providing resources. We do hope that some among you, perhaps especially those with more resources and staff than others, will take the initiative and begin a dialog on how an interfaith group can come together quickly to help fight this very real and very fast-moving threat. Perhaps you and your congregations would be interested in joining the Coalition to Protect New York as well; we are a loose collection of individuals and grass-roots groups joining forces to keep our communities safe.

Peace,

Maura Stephens
cofounding member of Coalition to Protect New York
www.coalitiontoprotectnewyork.org
maura@coalitiontoprotectnewyork.org

http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/interfaith-group-outlines-opposition-to-drilling-moral-considerations-for-marcellus-shale-1.1205326?cache=03D163D03D163Dp%3A%2Fhe3D03Dn63Freporti3D19.11145issed-1.1176%3FparentPage%3D2.1188%3FcacOHGEF0#axzz1Z4OHGEF

Interfaith group outlines opposition to drilling, moral considerations for Marcellus Shale
By Laura Legere (Staff Writer)
Published: September 19, 2011

A coalition of Pennsylvania faith groups dedicated to addressing climate change announced its opposition to Marcellus Shale drilling in its current form on Sunday and outlined ethical considerations for extracting and using gas in the state.

Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light released a position paper detailing what it would take for the faith groups to find Marcellus drilling morally acceptable, including using natural gas to help make a “rapid transition” away from coal and other fossil fuels and toward clean, sustainable energy sources.

The coalition, which includes the Scranton Area Ministerium and Temple Hesed and Temple Israel in Scranton, also said it could only support shale drilling if “overall environmental and health impacts are sharply reduced” and if a state-level system is established to avoid the energy boom and bust cycles that have devastated Pennsylvania communities in the past.

“We believe that we serve God through establishing justice – and economic gains that come at the expense of harming others are unjust,” the position paper says.
Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light’s membership includes 23 congregations and faith-based organizations, including Unitarian, Baptist, United Church of Christ, Lutheran, Episcopal, Presbyterian, Jewish and Mennonite churches and groups in the state.

In taking a position on gas drilling, the coalition joins a handful of faith groups that have alternately supported or raised questions about drilling through letters to elected officials, leases on church or cemetery grounds, shareholder resolutions and faith forums.

In June, United Methodists in the Susquehanna Conference passed a resolution calling for a temporary halt to Marcellus Shale drilling and supporting a tax on the gas that is produced.

“Here and there there were religious voices, but by and large the faith community was absent on this,” said Rabbi Daniel Swartz, spiritual leader of Temple Hesed and the coalition’s vice president. “It’s clearly a major issue in Pennsylvania that will affect our future for a long time and we shouldn’t be silent.”

In its position paper, which was distributed at a press conference in State College during the group’s annual meeting and conference, the coalition also called for a fee or tax on shale gas, for all Pennsylvania elected officials to decline campaign contributions from gas companies and for all congregations and faith-based organizations to refrain from signing leases or entering other financial agreements with gas drillers until the issues outlined in the paper are addressed.

“We’re tempted by money like anybody else,” Rabbi Swartz said. “Yes, you can justify to yourself, this money is going to go to a good purpose and they would drill anyway, but you’re condoning a process that’s morally questionable if not outright wrong as it’s often being practiced. No matter what the sums of money are, that’s not something that we should be countenancing.”

Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light plans to collect signatures from religious leaders and organizations on the position paper and to ask people who support it to present it to their elected representatives, Rabbi Swartz said.

Online: www.thetimes-tribune.com/gas
Contact the writer: llegere@timesshamrock.com

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/interfaith-group-outlines-opposition-to-drilling-moral-considerations-for-marcellus-shale-1.1205326?cache=03D163D03D163Dp%3A%2Fhe3D03Dn63Freporti3D19.11145issed-1.1176%3FparentPage%3D2.1188%3FcacOHGEF0#ixzz1Z5Rrarzn

Physicians Tell Cuomo: Study Health Risks!!!

PRESS RELEASE           FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE OCTOBER 5, 2011

Media Contact: Bob Liff, M+R Strategic Services – bliff@mrss.com or 917-287-7089
Erica Ringewald, Environmental Advocates of NY – eringewald@eany.org or 518-210-9903

MORE THAN 250 DOCTORS, MEDICAL AUTHORITIES SAY NYS FRACKING REVIEW GIVES SHORT SHRIFT TO CONCERNS ABOUT PUBLIC HEALTH; CALL FOR PREPARATION OF INDEPENDENT HEALTH IMPACT ASSESSMENT BEFORE STATE MOVES AHEAD WITH PERMITS.
State is ignoring health risks, federal review, and its own executive order in rushing to approve hydrofracking permits.

More than 250 pediatricians, family practitioners, otolaryngologists, endocrinologists, oncologists and other doctors, along with the Medical Societies of at least seven upstate counties and the regional office of the American Academy of Pediatricians, wrote to Governor Cuomo today, warning that the state has failed to analyze public health impacts of hydraulic fracturing in its rush to approve permits for drilling.

“We are greatly concerned about the omission of a critical issue related to the development of natural gas using high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or fracking: human health impacts,” the doctors and medical authorities wrote. (NOTE: A copy of the medical authorities’ letter to Governor Cuomo, along with supporting documentation, is available at www.psehealthyenergy.org.)

Noting that hydrofracking will likely increase health care costs in communities where drilling is likely, as well as increasing costs to mitigate water and air pollution, the medical authorities called on Governor Cuomo to immediately request an independent school of public health to conduct a Health Impact Assessment (HIA), since the state’s Department of Health has said it is unwilling to do so.

The letter notes that the state rejected recommendations from the federal Environmental Protection Agency, in an earlier review of a draft of the Department of Environmental Conservation’s Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement or SGEIS, that the state include “a greater emphasis . . . on the potential health impacts that may be associated with gas drilling and hydrofracking.”

The EPA called for the state Health Department to join with DEC as co-lead agency on the environmental reviews, which the DEC did not do. The lack of consideration of hydrofracking’s impact on public health violates former Governor David Paterson’s Executive Order #41 (2010) specifically directing the DEC to undertake further review of hydrofracking and the impacts of the horizontal drilling deep underground “to ensure that all environmental and public health impacts are mitigated or avoided.”

“Hydrofracking has the potential to significantly destroy the water, air and soil of communities in and around the drilling areas and to effect large state aquifers providing water for millions of families across New York,” said Henry Schaeffer, MD, FAAP, Chair, American Academy of Pediatrics, District II, NYS. “As pediatricians, we are very concerned about how the negative environmental outcomes may impact children’s health, development and general well being in the hydrofracking areas and beyond. Children are far more susceptible to environmental toxins, since they absorb and metabolise toxins at a higher rate for their body mass.

“As the doctors who care for children, we urge caution and more study,” said Dr. Schaeffersaid. “Our children are depending on us to protect them. And in this instance, we must take a stand and do just that. We urge New York state government and our state’s citizens to slow down what appears to be an unnecessarily fast approval process for hydrofracking in New York.”

Rob Moore, executive director of Environmental Advocates of New York and member of the state’s Hydrofracking Advisory Panel, said the Department of Health told his panel that it could assess public health impacts based on data in other states, but that such an assessment was never prepared.

“At the second panel meeting I asked if Governor Cuomo had directed the agency to conduct such a study and the Department of Health’s answer was ‘no’,” said Moore. “Moreover, the agency said they would only study public health impacts and conduct toxicological studies once drilling is underway in New York State.”

Adam Law, MD, a physician specializing in endocrinology and a Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at Weill-Cornell Medical College, said medical professionals agree that the time to conduct that health assessment is before drilling gets underway, not afterwards.

“The SGEIS certainly mentions many of the toxic chemicals employed in hydraulic fracturing, the harmful substances in the flowback-produced waters, the vented volatile organic compounds, the production of ozone, among other potential pollutants known to cause human disease,“ said Dr. Law, who is also a board member of Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy, a group that is conducting a series of scientific assessments of the SGEIS. “But there is no attempt to evaluate the kinds of health consequences that have already been observed in affected communities in those states where hydraulic fracturing is taking place.”

“Because of this glaring omission, this document does not provide a way to form a responsible, evidence-based opinion as to how this industrial process will affect the health of the New Yorkers, nor if adverse effects can be effectively mitigated,” said Dr. Law. “Until there is a formal, independent, health impact assessment conducted by recognized public health researchers, the moratorium on hydraulic fracturing should remain in effect.”

Sandra Steingraber, PhD, a biologist and Distinguished Scholar in Residence in the Department of Environmental Studies at Ithaca College, asked how New York could release a 1,000 pages EIS and not address health impacts.

“We know with certainty that fracking will increase smog and exposure to diesel exhaust and particulates,” said Steingraber, who is also an author and cancer survivor who lives in an area of the Marcellus Shale that would be targeted for hydrofracking. “We know with certainty that exposure to these chemicals, in early life, is associated with preterm birth, asthma, and lowered I.Q. in children, and risk of stroke, heart attack, breast cancer, and diabetes in adults. How many premature deaths will fracking cause in New York State? What are the medical costs? “

Larysa Dyrszka, MD, pediatrician and advocate for children’s right to health, said “The duty of government is to protect the health and safety of its citizens. Policies with far-reaching consequences such as this must take into account the health of the most vulnerable–the largest vulnerable population being children. Children’s metabolism makes them highly susceptible to toxins and that fact has not been considered in the SGEIS. For that reason, and others, we are calling on the Governor and the DEC to order a health impact assessment, and it should be completed and evaluated before moving on with this process.“

Signers of the letter to Cuomo also include the medical societies of Herkimer, Madison, Chenango, Oswego, Cayuga, Tompkins and Otsego counties, along with the American Academy of Pediatrics District II (New York).

The medical authorities’ letter came in part in response to Governor Cuomo’s commitment to rely on science and health concerns in considering the SGEIS, which calls for the issuance of hydrofracking permits throughout the state with the exception of the New York City and Syracuse watersheds.

The DEC claims it exempted the two major municipal watersheds because their water is not filtered, warning that allowing hydrofracking there could lead federal authorities to order the installation of multi-billion dollar water filtration systems. But two weeks before the medical authorities wrote the Governor, a group of 59 scientists from around the world with expertise in water treatment systems, aquatic chemistry or biogeochemistry, wrote him warning that existing municipal drinking water filtration systems are not designed to handle the chemicals and other contaminants included in the flow-back from fracking.

Pennsylvania, which allows hydrofracking in areas near New York’s Southern Tier where many hydrofracking permits would be issued, last spring moved to ban sending contaminant-laden flowback through public filtration systems because nearby waterways showed evidence of contaminants.

The medical authorities’ letter also cites growing evidence from hydrofracking in Texas, Wyoming, Louisiana, North Dakota and Pennsylvania that documents worsening health metrics among residents living close to gas wells and related infrastructure such as compressor stations and waste pits. Those symptoms can often be traced to the onset of such drilling operations.
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