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August 22 2012

23:50

Hundreds of Concerned Citizens Protest Governor Andrew Cuomo's Plans To Frack New York

Over 350 concerned citizens turned up at New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s policy summit today to protest his risky plan to allow hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in New York. The state has had a moratorium on the dangerous shale gas drilling technique since 2008, but Governor Cuomo is expected to announce the green lighting of fracking in sections of New York in the coming weeks.

New Yorkers concerned about threats to their drinking water and public health showed up en masse to deliver their message to Cuomo in person at a summit geared toward exploring a possible 2016 run for the White House. The gathering drew several Clinton administration veterans.

CREDO Action and New Yorkers Against Fracking organized the protest "to send a clear message to Gov. Cuomo that if he hopes to count on the support of New Yorkers and environmentalists for a future presidential run, he must say no to fracking New York."
 

Gov. Cuomo, don't frack New York,” said Zack Malitz, Campaign Manager of CREDO Action. “We have a moratorium against fracking in place now, and Gov. Cuomo lifts it at great peril to his political future. If Cuomo wants the support of New Yorkers who care about clean water, their health and the environment when he runs for president in 2016, he should abandon his plan to frack New York.”


David Braun of New Yorkers Against Fracking, a coalition of over 160 organizations across New York that supports a ban on fracking, says that "Governor Cuomo has a choice between dirty fracking and safe renewable energy. We are here on behalf of millions of New Yorkers who want Cuomo to represent the interests of our communities and not those of the oil and gas industry."

Huffington Post New York reporter Inae Oh has more quotes from folks who attended the gathering.

Below are some photos of the protest, courtesy of Credo. View more at http://www.flickr.com/photos/credopolicysummit/


  

March 06 2012

15:34

Experts Air Serious Concerns Before New York Fracking Decision

Two recent court decisions  in New York state upheld the right of towns to use zoning laws to limit or even ban fracking within their borders. Other states and cities such as DallasMaryland, and North Carolina, are still trying to figure out whether, and if so how, to proceed with new drilling.

But the big decision that concerned citizens are watching is the one to be made by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo about his state’s moratorium. New York received more than 40,000 public comments on fracking and is plowing through them now.

The state has yet to publish those documents on the web, but DeSmogBlog has obtained many of them. Here is our initial shortlist of comments that offer the most important warnings and useful insights.

A Hidden Threat?

One of the most overlooked but potentially dangerous public health issues relating to unconventional gas drilling is radon. This odorless and radioactive gas comes up from the wells mixed with the gas that gets piped to consumers. Highly carcinogenic, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, just behind cigarette smoking, according to the EPA.

In his comments, Dr. Marvin Resnikoff, director of Radioactive Waste Management Associates, concludes that radon levels in the gas that will come from Marcellus and likely be delivered to nearly 12 million New York residents will be far higher than current levels. As a result, “the potential number of fatal lung cancer deaths due to radon in natural gas from the Marcellus shale range from 1,182 to 30,448” he writes.

read more

January 09 2012

18:26

Enviro News Wrap: Controversy in Wind; Watching the Arctic Melt; Newt’s Retreat on Climate Change, and more…


The Latest Environmental News HeadlinesGlobalWarmingisReal contributor Anders Hellum-Alexander wraps-up the climate and environmental news headlines for the past week:

November 29 2011

01:39

Are New York Lawmakers Poised To Throw Upstate Residents Under The Fracking Bus?

Despite last week’s temporary win protecting the Delaware River Basin and its inhabitants from natural gas fracking, the debate rages on in New York State. Lawmakers, industry lobbyists and concerned landowners have debated for over a year about whether or not to open up the state to the Marcellus Shale fracking bonanza.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s stated commitment to vote no in the Delaware River Basin vote was promising, but it is offset by the fact that he has assembled a secretive 18-person “fracking panel” which Food & Water Watch executive director Wenonah Hauter recently alleged is comprised of many “strongly self-interested and industry-biased” individuals. Some environmental groups are concerned that this panel seems rigged to give the green light to fracking in New York.



At previous public hearings, tensions have already run high with both supporters and opponents lining up hours beforehand to ensure their turn to speak out on this highly contentious issue.



Most of the proponents of gas fracking continue to argue the economic mantra of job creation and domestic energy security, even though multiple reviews have debunked the gas industry’s lofty job projections. Food & Water Watch released a report indicating that many of the jobs created would likely be short-term and favor contract workers from outside the state. Other watchdogs of industry rhetoric, including Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), point out that the industry's rush to export gas from the fracking boom will lead to much higher gas prices for Americans, contradicting the industry's alleged commitment to domestic energy security.

There are also important questions about just how much gas there is underneath New York to warrant such extreme energy development.  After a recalculation of the resource potential of the area, geologists at the U.S. Geological Survey dropped their estimate of the recoverable gas by a quarter. They determined that the amount of reasonably recoverable gas would only meet US demand for four years instead of sixteen.

Residents who had initially accepted gas leases have since voiced their regret, stating that the lease payments from industry weren’t worth the impacts on their land, water and communities.



Meanwhile, citizens concerned about fracking in upstate regions question the fact that Governor Cuomo is adamant about protecting New York City’s watershed, yet he seems dead set on allowing fracking upstate, in effect creating ‘sacrifice’ zones that would imperil water supplies for upstate communities in favor of protecting city residents.


"I resent the fact that the water of New York City and Syracuse is deemed by the DEC to be more important than the rest of the state," State Senator James Seward (R-Milford) told The Daily Star newspaper of Oneonta, NY.



"What's the difference between New York City kids and my kids?" Kim Jastremski of Cooperstown said at one meeting, according to the Wall Street Journal.



Even more discomforting is a page on the DEC’s website attempting to explain “What We Learned From Pennsylvania”. It not only passively admits that mistakes were made in PA, but also seems to loosely translate the problem as, “we screwed up there” but “next time we’ll make it better.”

NYDEC Commissioner Joseph Martens believes that fracking can be undertaken safely in certain areas despite reports questioning the effectiveness of any of the state’s proposed regulations.



Perhaps the Commissioner and Governor should visit the DEC website more often. Ironically, there’s a whole page dedicated to NY State’s watersheds entitled, “We All Live in a Watershed" that shows every inch of the state belonging to some kind of watershed. If that’s the case, and Governor Cuomo actually intends to stand by his word of “keeping fracking out of the watershed,” he should clarify why he’s leaving most of the state’s watersheds vulnerable to contamination from fracking upstate.



Next add NYC Mayor Bloomberg to the mix, whose $50 million donation to the Sierra Club to take on Big Coal is laudable, but some have questioned whether it was, in part, a strategic attempt to gain support for gas extraction by pitting dirty coal against “clean” gas.

“At least natural gas is better than coal!! Do you really want coal?” Mayor Bloomberg said recently, trying to turn this into some kind of false, fossil fuel Sophie’s choice.

It’s true that gas-fired power plants release less carbon dioxide, but that’s only part of the picture. Studies that have attempted to take into account the full life-cycle impact of gas development, including potent methane emissions into the atmosphere during the drilling and transportation phases, indicate that gas may in fact pollute the air much more than coal and oil.

Bloomberg has also referred to natural gas as an “alternative” energy source, attempting to equate this dirty fossil fuel with wind, solar and other renewables. While it is an “alternative” energy in that it is a difference choice from coal, it is still a filthy form of reckless energy that threatens our water, air quality and the global climate.



Many citizens are waking up to the fact that the gas fracking rush is not a true solution to our energy problems. Switching from coal to gas still leaves us addicted to dirty fossil fuels, when the real solution is to focus on transitioning to a truly clean energy future that will create better jobs and safeguard our communities against the pollution threats that all fossil fuels pose.

The fireworks are sure to continue at public hearings this week in Loch Sheldrake and New York City on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively. 



November 19 2011

00:08

Another Blow To Dirty Energy: Fracking Nixed In The Delaware River Basin

Last night, big news erupted across the Northeast with an announcement that fracking in the Delaware River Basin, a pristine watershed that supplies water to over 15 million people, would be suspended. The Delaware River Basin Commission was set to vote on whether or not to permit 20,000 fracking wells in the area on Monday, November 15th. However after enormous citizen backlash, the DRBC realized they did not have the votes to push the practice through.

The Commission is made up of the 4 governors of basin states: New York (Cuomo), New Jersey (Christie), Pennsylvania (Corbett), and Delaware (Markell). The fifth member is from the Army Corps of Engineers, who is there to vote on behalf of the Obama administration.

Earlier in the week, sources indicated that Pennsylvania and New Jersey were set to vote yes, while New York was set to vote no. This left Delaware and the Obama administration up in the air. Advocacy groups and citizens targeted Delaware, knowing that the Obama administration wouldn’t likely leave themselves in the position of tie-breaker.

Knowing of the widespread, devastating health and environmental effects fracking has left in other areas of the nation, many people in the Delaware River Basin are immensely concerned about the prospect of fracking in their watershed. So much so, that when information came out that offices of the members of the Commission were tallying phone calls, people flooded the offices with calls and emails urging each to vote no on allowing fracking into the area, to the point where voicemail boxes were full for days.

After Delaware announced they would vote no at Monday’s meeting, as predicted, the meeting was soon cancelled. Ideally citizens would have liked to see fracking legitimately outlawed, but for now, it’s a temporary victory that will keep gas fracking - which some have dubbed as extreme energy extraction - out of an area that supplies water to millions.

Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch made the following statement,

This is a victory for the grassroots activists who have passionately rallied to protect our water, communities and health from the potentially devastating effects of this dirty practice. By standing up against big lobbying cash and flashy ads touting the job creating effects of shale gas development, we have won this critical fight.This delay is really a testament to the power of fighting for the what we believe in, not the best we can get. We’ll continue to forge ahead until we have a ban on fracking in the U.S.”

July 12 2011

21:30

Stephen Colbert Skewers Talisman Energy Over Gas Fracking Coloring Book

Stephen Colbert devoted a must-see segment of The Colbert Report last night to the subject of hydraulic fracturing (fracking), mocking gas company Talisman Terry for its coloring book propaganda, "Talisman Terry's Energy Adventure" [PDF] and generally eviscerating the gas industry's efforts to greenwash fracking in the wake of widespread public concern over water contamination and other threats posed by the industry's drilling operations.

Colbert's team certainly had fun mocking Talisman's "Friendly Fracosaurus" character, revealing some "bonus pages" of the dinosaur facing his "violated ancestors" and committing suicide - frackicide? - by lighting a cigarette in the shower.  These references were surely amusing to viewers of Gasland and other followers of the fracking controversy.

Watch the video:

Video courtesy of The Colbert Report.

July 01 2011

19:44

Americans For Prosperity Sues New York For Participating In Regional Climate Pact

The Koch brothers’ corporate front group, Americans for Prosperity (AFP) filed a lawsuit on Monday in New York’s State Supreme Court seeking to reverse a core piece of state action on climate change.  

New York joined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) in 2005 when former governor George Pataki (R) approved the state’s participation in the program. The suit alleges that New York is illegally (coercively) taxing residents by taking part in the market-based 10 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states’ Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). The AFP complaint also asserts that carbon emissions trading is unconstitutional because it infringes on federal authority to set rules on air pollution and electrical power transmission across states. 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D), along with the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, are all named as defendants in the suit.

The RGGI is the first state-based cap-and-trade program requiring electric utilities to purchase state emissions permits (credits) which are used to fund clean energy initiatives, create green jobs, lower energy bills, improve energy efficiency and home weatherization programs. Over the last three years New York alone has raised $320 million from its participation in RGGI, adding an average of less than 50 cents a month to a resident’s power bills. In all, the 10 participating states have raised $770 million [pdf], while adding a mere 0.4% to 1% on average to electricity bills. The RGGI also amplifies initial investments since ratepayers end up saving $3 to $4 for every dollar invested.

Peter Iwanowicz, a former DEC commissioner and head of the state Office of Climate Change, as well as an affiliate of the American Lung Association, is challenging the dirty energy interests attacking RGGI: "It is clear that those who are behind the suit are standing up for polluters and their profits, and they care very little about the people in New York."

Contrary to the Kochtopus lobbying campaigns to deny climate change and efforts to overturn the RGGI, a Koch subsidiary, Koch Supply and Trading of Wichita, participated in the very first RGGI trade of carbon allowances [pdf]. In fact, according to the Albany Times Union, Koch Industries traders took part in at least three of RGGI’s first nine emissions credit auctions.

And What About New York’s Neighbour New Jersey?

In May New Jersey governor Chris Christie (R) vowed to abandon the RGGI by the end of 2011. Formerly a supporter of strong action on climate change, Christie now looks more like the many fellow Tea Party Republican climate deniers who were elected in droves last November.

Challenging the governor, this week, the New Jersey Assembly followed the state Senate in passing several bills aiming to prevent the state from leaving the RGGI. 

John McKeon, chairman of the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee, told SolveClimate News that the legislation "absolutely clears up any ambiguity of [Christie] being able to pull us out unilaterally." 

Unfortunately, the slim margins the bills passed by will do little to dissuade the governor from using his veto.

McKeon adds that pulling out of the RGGI disregards “…the intent of the Legislature which required New Jersey to be a member of RGGI,” and that “Governor Christie is ignoring the will of the people…” 

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NDRC) conducted a poll revealing that 74% of New Jersey voters support keeping New Jersey energy dollars in the state rather than spending this money on fossil fuels; 60% say they would be willing to pay an additional 75 cents on their monthly energy bills to curb power plant pollution and invest in cleaner, local energy sources like wind and solar; and 47% also said that leaving the RGGI would be inconsistent with the governor’s earlier commitment to clean energy as a way to rebuild the state’s economy and workforce, with only 33% thinking it would be consistent.

In all, New Jersey has raised more than $105 million from auctioning carbon credits since 2008.

 

June 29 2011

14:25

March 09 2011

00:49

N.Y. Senate Confirms Environmental Chief

Mr. Martens, 54, had been working as the department's acting commissioner since January, when he was first nominated by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

January 04 2011

22:56

Cuomo Picks 'Open Space' Advocate for Environment Chief

The nominee for state environment commissioner has been quoted as urging caution in state decisions on fracking, a controversial type of natural gas drilling.
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