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Urgent Alert: Submit Written Comments ASAP to DEC Regarding Revising the draft SGEIS

Urgent Marcellus Shale Gas Alert - Urgent Marcellus Shale Gas Alert


I write with the utmost urgency to ask you to take immediate action to spell out how the Department of Environmental Conservation must revise its woefully inadequate draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS). That revision is required pursuant to Executive Order No. 41.

We must deluge DEC with detailed, substantive comments during the next ten days. Our efforts could very well determine whether Marcellus Shale horizontal hydrofracturing goes forward in New York in two years, five years or perhaps not at all.

To date, not one horizontal hydrofractured well has been drilled in New York's Marcellus Shale. That is because a de facto Marcellus Shale horizontal hydrofracturing moratorium is in effect until a Final SGEIS is adopted.

At a minimum, that likely will not happen for two or three more years. At a maximum, it could be much longer. DEC's 1992 GEIS took 12 years to complete. The current SGEIS proceeding began in 2008.

I will be drafting detailed comments in the next few days that you can use as a guide.

To help you prepare in-depth comments, I will summarize how we got to this point and post key documents for your review.

As you will see below, I wrote Commissioner Martens that we would send him comments WITHIN TEN DAYS. Please email your comments to the Commissioner at: Please cc: so I can circulate noteworthy comments.

Thank you so much for your help. This is the moment of truth. We need a Really Big Finish.



Executive Order No. 41

When the draft SGEIS was released on 9/30/09, it received withering criticism. Nearly 11,000 signatories to Toxics Targeting's coalition letter requested Governor Paterson to withdraw the draft SGEIS and send it back to the drawing board. He miraculously heeded our request by signing Executive Order No. 41 just before leaving office. That Order requires DEC to revise the draft SGEIS in order to "analyze comprehensively the environmental impacts associated with high-volume hydraulic fracturing combined with horizontal drilling ..."

A second coalition letter with more than 5,000 signatories requests that Governor Cuomo require public comment regarding how the scope of the SGEIS must be expanded to address all the concerns that came to light after the SGEIS proceeding began. Expanding the scope of the SGEIS is essential because DEC wants to limit its review to comments received prior to 12/30/09, nearly 18 months ago. That makes zero sense.

Backs Against the Wall

Over the last five months, we focused intense pressure on the Governor by holding rallies, gaining the support of 64 Legislators, meeting with DEC and generating massive press coverage. This week, the Governor finally replied to our coalition letter. Unfortunately, his polite letter does not provide a favorable reply to our requests. See:

Now we know where we stand. Our backs are essentially against the wall with time fast running out.

Governor Cuomo's Director of State Operations just ordered Commissioner Martens to complete the revision of the draft SGEIS by July 1st. Setting that arbitrary deadline is highly troubling because the Commissioner earlier stated that finishing the revision could take all summer.

I wrote to Commissioner Martens about providing input directly to DEC without further delay. He did not oppose my proposed plan, so we are underway. See:

Submit Written Comments to DEC Within Ten Days

It is absolutely essential that we submit written comments to Commissioner Martens to identify all technical, scientific, regulatory, legal and other information that warrants DEC's attention pursuant to Executive Order No. 41.

Please note the extremely broad mandate of the Executive Order:

It is imperative that we submit detailed, substantive comments within the NEXT TEN DAYS in order to inform DEC's revision of the draft SGEIS.

If we raise enough substantive concerns, there will be no way that DEC can complete its revision by the Governor's 7/1/11 deadline. We must unleash a torrent of comments.

This strategy allows us to see if DEC responds to our written concerns. If they are ignored in the revised draft, we can argue that DEC's efforts were obviously inadequate and require the process to be started over.

Please email your comments to the Commissioner at: Please cc:

DEC Commissioner Marten's Comments on How to Revise the draft SGEIS

After activists and I met with the Commissioner on 3/23/11, an Associated Press (AP) article quoted him on the record:

"'Some people say we should reopen the process. We're looking at all of that,' Martens said. 'We're trying to solicit and digest all the information we can and put it into a document that addresses all the concerns raised to date [emphasis added]. It's a really formidable task.'

Martens said New York's permitting guidelines will address problems that have been seen in other states, particularly Pennsylvania, where Marcellus Shale drilling and fracking has been blamed for contamination of water wells and rivers [emphasis added]."

See the AP article at:

Key EPA and State Documents For Your Review

Please keep the Commissioner's comments in mind as you draft your input. Please speak directly to the points he specified.

Here are some documents and data that will help you spell out your concerns.

You can refer to Toxics Targeting's original comments regarding the shortcomings of the draft SGEIS:

See the coalition letter to Governor Cuomo:

See detailed comments prepared by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency as well as important documents about shale gas problems in other states:

Regarding horizontal hydrofracturing hazards in Pennsylvania, please request that DEC review all 30,000 pages of documents recently released by Ian Urbina as part of his landmark Marcellus Shale gas wastewater series in The New York Times. An immense amount of information is available at:

Please make sure to request that DEC addresses the massive staffing problems documented in former Executive Deputy Commissioner Stewart Gruskin's historic memo that got DEC Commissioner Grannis fired. See:

Please make sure to reference mortgage lending concerns that recently were revealed. This is a huge concern that is not mentioned in the draft SGEIS. See:

Thanks, again, for your help.