New York State’s Water Crisis

In Troy, New York, just across the Hudson River from our state Capitol, some residents recently went without water for 10 straight days because of a water main break. Other Troy residents were forced to boil their water for several days because of a separate break.

What is happening in Troy is not an isolated problem, say advocates, local elected officials, and even the state’s own environmental protection agency.

Money is badly needed by municipalities for repairs to both wastewater management and drinking water systems. Last fall, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli identified a gap in annual state spending of $800 million for wastewater and over $300 million for drinking water infrastructure.

And these infrastructure upgrades are more critical than ever, given the projected increase in rainfall and extreme weather events across the state due to climate change.

The state has put off addressing the problem for long enough, argue almost two dozen state senators. They are pushing the Governor to include $800 million for new water infrastructure funding in this year’s state budget. Currently, there is no grant money set aside in the proposed budget for municipal water infrastructure projects.

The water superintendent of one upstate city told NYER that they “fully supported” the state senators’ fight for $800 million in infrastructure funds. The official, who asked not to be identified for fear of alienating the Governor, added, “it should probably be a lot more.”

The state has the ability to make an $800 million investment this year because it has received more than $5 billion in bank settlement funds, the senators maintain.

“This is not a Republican or Democrat issue,” Senator Carl Marcellino of Long Island, who is pushing for the $800 million, told Capital New York. “We all drink the same water.”

State Assembly Not on Board

So far, the state Assembly is not joining its colleagues in the Senate to fight for $800 million for water infrastructure.

The Assembly will be requesting $250 million, Elizabeth Nostrand, legislative director for Assemblymember Steve Englebright, told NYER. Englebright, a Democrat from Long Island, chairs the Assembly’s Environmental Conservation Committee.

Nostrand said that Assemblymember Englebright and his colleagues agreed with the senators that addressing the state’s infrastructure needs was a “top priority.” But she said that numerous competing proposals had been put forward for the use of the bank settlement funds.

The Assembly was advocating for a number, Nostrand said, which was within “the realm of possibility.” Nostrand added that the Assembly’s proposal for $250 million in water infrastructure funding was far better than the Governor’s, “which was zero.”

$12.7 Billion Requested by Local Governments

An analysis released last week by a coalition of environmental and clean water organizations makes the case that communities across New York State have an “immediate documented need” for $12.7 billion in wastewater infrastructure projects alone. This need now impacts every single county, they point out.

Roughly two-thirds -over 500- of the projects covered by this $12.7 billion are essentially “shovel ready,” said Dan Shapley, the Water Quality Program Manager at Riverkeeper.

Riverkeeper and three other organizations, Environmental Advocates, the New York League of Conservation Voters, and the Adirondack Council, prepared the analysis. The groups found that of the $12.7 billion in aid requested by local governments, the state Environmental Facilities Corporation plans to provide $757 million, just under 6 percent.

That $757 million will come primarily in the form of no- and low-interest loans via the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund, which is administered by the EFC.

Who Is Supposed to Pay for Water Infrastructure?

The State’s lead environmental agency is in agreement that New York is facing a water infrastructure “crisis,” both in terms of wastewater and drinking water.

“One-quarter of the 610 [sewage and wastewater treatment] facilities in New York are operating beyond their useful life expectancy,” notes the state Department of Environmental Conservation, “and many others are using outmoded, inadequate technology, increasing their likelihood of tainting our waters.”

According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, New York has reported $27 billion in drinking water infrastructure needs over the next 20 years; along with $29.7 billion in costs related to upgrading wastewater treatment infrastructure.

Who pays for such pressing – and fundamental – projects? Local, state and federal governments are all supposed to share the burden.

A key problem is the fact that individual municipalities, especially smaller ones, do not necessarily have the cash on hand, or the ability to borrow large sums from the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund. One contributing factor is the state’s two percent cap on local property taxes (instituted by the Governor), which essentially ties the hands of local governments.

Current levels of local investment in water infrastructure projects are a fraction of where they need to be, says a report released in September by State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli. For instance, municipalities are spending one-fifth to one-sixth of what the Department of Health believes is necessary to adequately upgrade drinking water systems across the state.

Missing An Opportunity?

Is the Governor missing a golden opportunity by not putting bank settlement dollars into upgrading sewage treatment plants, storm drain systems and drinking water mains?

Investing in the state’s water infrastructure is not just a liveability issue; it’s also an economic development issue, say advocates. Functional infrastructure is required for growth.

And investing in the state’s wastewater and drinking water systems will create jobs, as many as 30,000, they add. The economic activity generated by the level of construction needed will help to increase local and state tax revenues, they argue. This, in turn, will help to pay for the two decades of infrastructure improvement projects that lie ahead.

What Are Your County’s Water Infrastructure Needs?

Clean water advocates have tabulated the applications -just for wastewater infrastructure projects- to the EFC’s Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund. Over 900 projects are pending.

According to this analysis, Brooklyn (Kings County) has the greatest documented need, with pending applications for 63 projects, at a whopping total cost of over $3 billion.

What’s an example of what is being requested for Brooklyn? The City of New York has requested funds for a “sewage treatment plant upgrade at Coney Island to improve water quality to the Rockaway Inlet.” The Rockaway Inlet lies between Brooklyn and the Rockaways.

Estimated cost for this one project? $20,533,250.

Click here to read a description of the projects for which your county has requested support. Project descriptions start on page 41. The descriptions provide a window on just some of the water-related problems that local governments are trying to solve.

New York City’s projects are identified by the letters NYCMWFA [Municipal Water Finance Authority]. Interestingly, a number of New York City’s projects are related to “storm” and “flood mitigation.”

The totals, by county, are as follows:

County Total $ # of Projects
Nassau $1,871,423,843 55
Suffolk $1,968,210,400 53
Bronx $179,836,762 17
Kings $3,135,778,182 63
New York $405,059,903 30
Queens $601,488,136 40
Richmond $114,526,549 17
Dutchess $194,030,190 27
Orange $288,258,968 39
Putnam $54,765,276 3
Rockland $98,135,778 11
Sullivan $104,542,750 18
Ulster $14,828,933 8
Westchester $794,696,577 47
Albany $128,123,434 23
Columbia $6,712,000 2
Delaware $113,070,596 3
Greene $27,314,000 4
Montgomery $19,425,000 7
Otsego $27,809,000 8
Rensselaer $41,528,832 8
Schenectady $93,949,400 11
Schoharie $12,499,000 5
Clinton $53,456,000 11
Essex $50,787,407 17
Franklin $49,190,456 13
Fulton $25,754,000 4
Hamilton $6,465,000 3
Saratoga $87,996,737 21
Warren $41,696,095 17
Washington $24,622,000 6
Herkimer $27,869,000 13
Jefferson $85,545,000 20
Lewis $19,891,000 6
Oneida $520,213,596 27
St. Lawrence $77,797,000 20
Broome $64,661,000 6
Cayuga $30,517,270 10
Chenango $20,232,000 3
Cortland $27,706,000 4
Madison $29,467,000 6
Onondaga $227,467,000 23
Oswego $86,805,000 12
Tioga $7,196,000 1
Tompkins $19,727,000 10
Genesee $7,422,000 6
Livingston $23,999,000 6
Monroe $104,984,774 25
Ontario $20,580,053 10
Orleans $4,110,768 2
Schuyler $37,109,000 5
Seneca $2,568,000 3
Steuben $44,891,778 11
Wayne $48,014,000 11
Yates $28,451,000 5
Allegany $17,734,153 7
Cattaraugus $60,946,282 10
Chautauqua $87,207,470 12
Erie $243,543,160 26
Niagara $40,170,200 23
Wyoming $9,176,658 3
Total: $12,661,983,366 917
Average by County: $207,573,497 14.8

 

Cuomo must address deteriorating water quality infrastructure, say enviros.

New York needs to invest at least $36 billion in upgrading critical wastewater infrastructure across the state. The problem has been described by the state’s lead environmental agency as “a gathering storm.”

“Sewage and wastewater treatment facilities in New York State are deteriorating. Almost all of New York’s residents rely on these facilities to treat sewage and wastewater from our homes and businesses before they return it to our waterbodies,” says the Department of Environmental Conservation.

“However, one-quarter of the 610 facilities in New York are operating beyond their useful life expectancy and many others are using outmoded, inadequate technology, increasing their likelihood of tainting our waters,” the DEC reports.

Treating wastewater adequately is essential for public health and economic development, maintains the state. Upgrading our water quality infrastructure is “critically needed,” the DEC states plainly on its website.

Yet some of New York’s leading environmental organizations are saying that Governor Cuomo’s proposed 2015 budget does not begin to address the seriousness of the issue. Specifically, they are arguing that the state needs to create an “Infrastructure Bank” to assist local municipalities who have no way of raising the funds necessary to complete large water quality infrastructure projects.

How would an infrastructure bank be seeded? The state’s “windfall bank settlement” is mentioned as a possible source of funding for sewage and wastewater treatment projects.

The environmental groups spoke out in an op-ed published yesterday in Syracuse.com. The op-ed was written by Willie Janeway of the Adirondack Council, Peter Iwanowicz of Environmental Advocates of New York, Marcia Bystryn of the New York League of Conservation Voters, Patricia Cerro-Reehil of the New York Water Environment Association and Paul Gallay of Riverkeeper.

We re-publish key sections below:

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“In recent statements, Gov. Andrew Cuomo touted the high value of a “clean water supply that is vital to the livelihood of all New Yorkers” and said “New York does more than any other state to finance local wastewater infrastructure projects that protect the environment and support jobs.” It is true that the New York state Environmental Facilities Corp. has played a pivotal role in providing low-cost financing for wastewater projects. Yet with the financial struggles of many municipalities — even with low-cost loan programs in place, an infrastructure bank to support clean water for all is needed in this year’s state budget.

We applauded when the governor said he would propose using bank settlement funds to help seed an infrastructure bank with the ability to make “gap-closing grants.” …………

However, New York state has not yet established a new dedicated wastewater infrastructure bank. The only funding stream proposed by Gov. Cuomo, in his executive budget is an Upstate regional competition, through which dollars would be awarded to three out of seven eligible regions. Long Island, New York City and Buffalo are not eligible and there’s no assurance that clean water infrastructure would be funded as part of any region’s plan……

The deterioration of roads and bridges is clear to see. But the deterioration is more severe below ground, as those who have dealt with sewage backing up in basements and spilling into creeks know all too well. The state Department of Environmental Conservation has documented the need for investment in wastewater statewide is at least $36 billion…………………

Ask local leaders about their challenges, and investing in wastewater infrastructure is at or near the top of the list. These are real local costs that most communities cannot bear — especially with a 2 percent tax cap that inhibits long-term investment…..

It has been 50 years since New York voters approved a $1 billion Pure Waters Bond Act, at a time when the statewide need for sewer infrastructure was estimated at $1.7 billion. The investment paid dividends in clean water and proud communities. We’re overdue for another bold investment or at least a modest but real investment.”

 

 

NYS Health Commissioner: I would not let my family live in a community with fracking

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has just issued the following statement.

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NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH COMPLETES REVIEW OF HIGH-VOLUME HYDRAULIC FRACTURING

Acting DOH Commissioner Zucker Recommends Activity Should Not Move Forward in New York State

DEC Commissioner Martens Will Issue a Findings Statement Early Next Year to Prohibit High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing

The state Department of Health has completed its public health review of high-volume hydraulic fracturing (HVHF) and Acting DOH Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker recommended that high-volume hydraulic fracturing should not move forward in New York State. Dr. Zucker announced his findings and recommendations today at a Cabinet Meeting in Albany.

“I have considered all of the data and find significant questions and risks to public health which as of yet are unanswered,” said Dr. Zucker. “I think it would be reckless to proceed in New York until more authoritative research is done. I asked myself, ‘would I let my family live in a community with fracking?’ The answer is no. I therefore cannot recommend anyone else’s family to live in such a community either.”

In 2012, Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens asked the DOH Commissioner to conduct a review of the draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement for High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing (SGEIS). Dr. Zucker’s report fulfills that request.

As a result of Dr. Zucker’s report, Commissioner Martens stated at the Cabinet Meeting today that he will issue a legally binding findings statement that will prohibit HVHF in New York State at this time.

“For the past six years, DEC has examined the significant environmental impacts that could result from high-volume hydraulic fracturing,” DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said. “DEC’s own review identified dozens of potential significant adverse impacts of HVHF. Further, with the exclusion of sensitive natural, cultural and historic resources and the increasing number of towns that have enacted bans and moratoria, the risks substantially outweigh any potential economic benefits of HVHF. Considering the research, public comments, relevant studies, Dr. Zucker’s report and the enormous record DEC has amassed on this issue, I have directed my staff to complete the final SGEIS. Once that is complete, I will prohibit high-volume hydraulic fracturing in New York State at this time.”

DEC will incorporate the findings of the public health review into the Final SGEIS, which will be released with a response to public comments early next year. A minimum of 10 days later, Commissioner Martens will issue the findings statement prohibiting HVHF. This action will conclude the State Environmental Quality Review Act process for HVHF.

DOH’s review found significant uncertainties about: the adverse health outcomes that may be associated with HVHF; the likelihood of occurrence of adverse health outcomes; and the adequacy of mitigation measures to protect public health. DOH’s report concludes that it will be years until science and research provide sufficient information to determine the level of risk HVHF poses to public health and whether those risks can be adequately mitigated. Given the red flags raised by current studies, absent conclusive studies that disprove health concerns, the report states the activity should not proceed in New York State.

In conducting its public health review, DOH reviewed and evaluated scientific literature, sought input from outside public health experts, engaged in field visits and discussions with health and environmental authorities in nearly all states where HVHF activity is taking place, and communicated with local, state, federal, international, academic, environmental and public health stakeholders. DOH’s review can be found at: http://www.health.ny.gov/.

At the Cabinet meeting, Governor Cuomo thanked the Commissioners and their respective departments for their work.

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Decision Time: Is NYS About to Allow Fracking?

Governor Andrew Cuomo reiterated Monday that his administration will take a “clear” position on high-volume hydraulic fracturing by the end of the year. The Cuomo administration says it will also release a long awaited Department of Health study regarding the public health impacts of fracking.

A statewide moratorium on the controversial drilling practice has existed for the last six years, but that may be about to change.

One possibility is an “in-between solution,” in which the Governor leaves the decision on fracking up to individual town boards. This could stop or heavily delay fracking in many New York communities.

Opponents of fracking say that communities without well-defined zoning ordinances, or who do not have strong local governments, could end up with fracking even if they don’t necessarily want it.

Elected Officials Call for a 3 to 5 Year Moratorium

Today in Syracuse, a statewide non-partisan group of more than 850 elected officials from all 62 counties, Elected Officials to Protect New York (EOPNY), released a letter calling on Governor Cuomo to enact a minimum three to five year moratorium on fracking.

“We need to be heard at this crucial moment,” wrote the elected officials to Cuomo. “We have reached out to you several times since our founding in June 2012, spurred by unprecedented levels of concern by our constituents over this industry. Their concerns, and ours, are well-founded and have not abated.”

The letter, from both current and retired elected officials, outlines “key areas of concern about negative impacts to public health, the environment, socioeconomic issues, [and] increasing evidence that drilling and fracking exacerbate climate change” and speaks to “the need for cumulative, comprehensive studies.”

What do New Yorkers think?

Over half, 56 percent, of residents oppose fracking in New York State, according to a survey commissioned by the Natural Resources Defense Council. Thirty-five percent of residents are in favor of allowing the practice.

The survey, carried out by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz and Associates (FM3) in September, had a +/- 4 percent margin of error.

Surveyors found that almost three-quarters, seventy-three percent, of New York State residents supported the current temporary ban on fracking until “scientific studies of its safety are conducted, and until the Department of Environmental Conservation creates rules to ensure fracking can be conducted safely.”

Therein lies the dilemma. Governor Cuomo has stated repeatedly that he will follow the recommendations of his about-to-be released Department of Health study. And if that study says there is a way in which fracking can be done safely, it is reasonable to assume the Governor will proceed.

Research for the Public to Consider

A number of studies have been released in recent weeks about the potential impacts of fracking.

Last week, “Concerned Health Professionals of New York,” which is led by Dr. David O. Carpenter, Director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany’s School of Public Health, released a statistical evaluation of approximately 400 peer-reviewed studies on the impacts of shale gas development.

The group claims that 96 percent of all papers published on health impacts associated with shale gas development “indicate potential risks or adverse health outcomes.”

Fracking poses a real threat to local water supplies, the group argues. Almost three-quarters, 72 percent, of original research studies on water quality “indicate potential, positive association, or actual incidence of water contamination,” they report.

Concerned Health Professionals of New York is similarly urging Governor Cuomo to enact a three to five year moratorium on fracking. They have just updated and re-released their compendium of scientific, medical and media findings related to fracking.

Finally, a study released today by the NRDC found that a “growing body of scientific evidence shows that people both near and far from oil and gas drilling are exposed to fracking-related air pollution that can cause at least five major types of health impacts. This includes respiratory problems, birth defects, blood disorders, cancer and nervous system problems.”

The NRDC says they have conducted “the most comprehensive analysis of scientific studies to-date on the health impacts from fracking related air pollution.”

If not from fracking, where should our energy come from?

Residents surveyed by FM3 in September were asked which types of energy should be used more in New York. There is major support for increasing the use of renewable sources of energy, especially solar.

Here are the energy sources that interested New Yorkers most, and least.

  • Solar, 92%
  • Wind, 89%
  • Natural gas, 81%
  • Hydropower, 76%
  • Coal, 40%
  • Nuclear, 38%
  • Fracking, 29%

 

Tell us what you think about fracking and state energy policy, and we’ll keep you posted as events unfold in Albany.

 

Is Environmental Protection Worth Funding?

New Yorkers are understandably concerned about a host of environmental issues that affect the quality and safety of their day to day lives, especially their health. These issues range from air and water quality to catastrophic weather events to waste management.

The state agency that is most directly responsible for safeguarding our environmental health is the Department of Environmental Conservation. Last week, the State Comptroller’s Office released a new report questioning whether the DEC has become so starved for resources that it can no longer fully do its job.

As the Comptroller notes, “DEC programs are integral to the functioning of society in New York State.” But in the last 10 years, the agency has lost 10 percent of its employees—more than 300 full-time staff. Agency spending is essentially flat and is projected to decline over the next several years, says the Comptroller.

And the DEC’s responsibilities are only mounting, especially as climate change becomes a more visible threat to environmental health and safety.

Why Does the DEC Matter?

The DEC is the public’s watchdog. They are our front line of defense against environmental pollution and degradation at all levels, whether it’s making sure that power plants are not releasing dangerous amounts of pollutants, or that your neighborhood gas station’s oil tanks are not leaking into the ground.

DEC enforcement activity, the Comptroller says, recently uncovered long term violations of the federal Clean Air Act by an industrial plant in Tonawanda, New York. Residents in Tonawanda, located in the Buffalo metro-area, were being exposed to unsafe levels of benzene, a human carcinogen, and other toxic substances.

The breadth and depth of the DEC’s core responsibilities are staggering. The Comptroller describes some of the agency’s core tasks:

  • Permitting and overseeing facilities that manage hazardous wastes, municipal wastes and sewage.
  • Regulating discharges of pollution to State water bodies.
  • Issuing air pollution permits, or registrations, for power plants, factories and other facilities such as dry cleaners that have the potential to emit air pollutants.
  • Managing State wildlife populations and issuing licenses to hunt, trap and fish.
  • Overseeing mining and oil and gas extraction in New York State.
  • Administering State-owned lands, boat launches and campsites in the Adirondack and Catskill Parks, and administering State reforestation lands, wildlife management lands and fishing access sites in the rest of the State.
  • Conducting cleanups of contaminated sites under the State Superfund Program and monitoring cleanups undertaken through the State Environmental Restoration and Brownfield Cleanup Program.
  • Assessing risks to the State’s environment related to climate change and developing plans to mitigate these risks.

 

Some of the agency’s most essential functions are now performed by considerably fewer personnel.

The DEC program areas -besides Administration and Operations- that have experienced the biggest staff cuts in the last ten years are Environmental Enforcement (-18.6 percent), Air and Water Quality Management (-16.8 percent) and Solid and Hazardous Waste Management (-9.0 percent).

Impact of Less Staff on Air and Water Quality Oversight

One question raised by the Comptroller’s Office is whether the DEC is able to adequately implement and enforce the federal Clean Air and Clean Water acts, a “critical” function.

The Comptroller reports that in 2014, “the DEC conducted FCEs [Clean Air Act full-compliance evaluations] at 12.4 percent of subject facilities, compared to a national average for state inspections of 34.5 percent of subject facilities.”

The number of Clean Air Act compliance evaluations dropped between 2010 and 2014, as did the number of stack tests reported by the DEC.

And as the number of inspections declined, so did reports of violations, says the Comptroller’s Office.

DEC reports of facilities with alleged violations of the Clean Air Act dropped sharply between 2010 and 2014. In contrast, the number of violations reported by the federal EPA for facilities in New York State actually increased during the same period.

Similarly, the number of facilities subject to DEC’s formal or informal enforcement actions of the Clean Water Act also fell significantly (a drop of over 50 percent) between 2010 and 2014. It is important to note, in fairness to the DEC, that Clean Water Act inspections dropped sharply and then soared during this four-year period.

“While there are many potential explanations for these changes,” says the Comptroller, “staffing reductions may be a factor underlying declines in certain types of inspections and findings of environmental violations.”

Thinking About the Future

At the same time as budgets have been slashed, more critical functions are being put on the agency’s plate. Recent initiatives by the state Legislature, Governor Cuomo’s office and federal agencies will all require DEC action, says the Comptroller.

This includes development of a climate action plan, regulation of shale gas production, addressing threats associated with crude oil transportation, implementation of new federal clean air standards and management of other pollution-control programs.

And the DEC’s funding is projected to decline over the next several years.

Between 2003 and 2013, state sources of funding for the DEC were relatively flat or declined, says the Comptroller. Federal support for the agency increased significantly, however, mainly due to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Those funds are now largely exhausted.

All spending -federal and state- allocated to the DEC is expected to decline 25.9 percent over the next four years, according to the Comptroller. The Department of Budget projects that the DEC’s 2013-14 actual total funding of $1.016 billion will drop to $753.6 million by state fiscal year 2017-18.

Where does that leave us, and who calls the state’s financial shots? At the end of the day, Governor Cuomo will be the one to decide whether the DEC’s funding levels show any improvement.

The Cuomo administration has repeatedly challenged the assertion -made by environmental groups and a number of legislators- that the DEC does not have the resources necessary to adequately protect the environment and public health.

“This administration has devoted more than $16 billion for infrastructure, resiliency, clean energy and environment programs while also investing in new technologies and streamlined management systems to make this agency more efficient,” DEC spokesman Tom Mailey told the Albany Times Union.

“This is the boldest commitment of resources and attention to the state’s environment in recent history,” Mailey said last week.

Environmental Fund Used to Plug State Budget Holes

The DEC also supports “critically important” environmental programs with funds specifically dedicated by the state legislature. One of these, the Environmental Protection Fund, is a “pay-as-you-go” source of capital funding for projects like open space and farmland conservation, controlling invasive species and upgrading municipal sewage treatment plants.

The EPF is replenished by proceeds from the Real Estate Transfer Tax, along with other state revenue streams, like the Bottle Bill.

Since the establishment of the Fund in 1993, $2.1 billion has been disbursed toward environmental projects across New York State. But another $928 million has been “swept” from the EPF to the state’s General Fund for budget relief.

Roughly half of the EPF dollars swept to the General Fund have been replaced with bonded funds, which creates more debt for state taxpayers, says the Comptroller’s Office. Over $500 million were not replaced at all.

At a time when there is enormous political pressure to diminish the public sector, the Comptroller’s Office is asking state residents and legislators to consider, at least in terms of protecting our environment, whether we may have gone too far.

 

 

 

 

 

 

State’s Enviro Groups Launch New Offensive Against Fracking

A coalition of New York State environmental and anti-fracking organizations is announcing the launch of the ‘Not One Well’ social media/advertising campaign today.

The groups -which include chapters of national environmental organizations like the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council- say they are calling on Governor Cuomo to “honor his commitment to listen to the science, which mandates imposing a minimum three to five year moratorium on fracking in New York State.”

The groups are citing a July, 2014 Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings released by Concerned Health Professionals of New York, which discusses potential issues associated with high volume hydraulic fracturing. These include:

  • Air pollution
  • Water contamination
  • Inherent engineering problems that “worsen with time”
  • Radioactive releases
  • Occupational health and safety hazards
  • Noise pollution, light pollution and stress
  • Earthquake and seismic activity
  • Abandoned and active oil and natural gas wells (as pathways for gas and fluid migration)
  • Flood risks
  • Threats to agriculture and soil quality
  • Threats to the climate system
  • “Inaccurate” jobs claims, “increased” crime rates, and “threats” to property value and mortgages
  • “Inflated” estimates of oil and gas reserves and profitability
  • Disclosure of serious risks to investors
  • Medical and scientific “calls for more study and more transparency”

 

A de-facto moratorium on high volume hydraulic fracturing currently exists across New York State. Governor Cuomo has stated that he will make a decision as to whether to permit the practice by the end of the year. Cuomo has been criticized for his lack of definitive action on fracking during his first term.

The Governor’s office had previously floated the idea of allowing at least some counties in the state’s Southern Tier – Allegany, Broome, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, Delaware, Steuben, and Tioga counties- to determine independently if they wished to allow fracking. The Southern Tier lies above some of the state’s richest gas reserves.

The idea proved highly controversial and has not been pursued publicly since then.

The groups launching “Not One Well” argue that there are other ways to meet New York’s energy and economic development needs. They say there is a “growing movement of New Yorkers who support renewable energy as the long-term sustainable alternative to fracking.”

The groups plan to rally outside of the Governor’s State of the State address in January.

Member organizations of the “Not One Well” campaign include:

  • Natural Resources Defense Council
  • Sierra Club
  • Riverkeeper
  • Food & Water Watch
  • Environmental Advocates of New York
  • Frack Action
  • NYPIRG
  • Citizen Action
  • Catskill Mountainkeeper
  • Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy
  • Citizens Campaign for the Environment