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Bad fracking deals looming?/Critical period at-hand


Pressure continues to intensify on Governor Cuomo regarding his final decision on shale gas fracturing in New York State. Events occur almost daily now that hound him on this issue. The critical question is how he will respond.

In short, the four-year de facto Marcellus Shale gas fracking moratorium is still holding, but for how long no one knows. That is why I write today.

I believe there is no question that Governor Cuomo wants to permit shale gas fracturing, even in a limited way. Otherwise, he would have kicked the can down the road a long time ago. That is why a statewide fracking ban remains essentially out of the question.

It is extremely likely that the Governor will try to gain backing for fracking from pro-gas environmental groups on the Hydraulic Fracturing Advisory Panel. I would be shocked if the "Let's Make A Deal" game is not already underway.

For example, it has just come to light that some of those groups met with top environmental and health officials to request that an independent health assessment be required before permitting fracking to proceed.

Such a study would not resolve in any way the wide range of pollution problems associated with shale gas fracking. Moreover, an independent health assessment could not overcome the fundamental lack of comprehensive air, land and water pollution data and public health exposure information associated with natural gas extraction.


It is imperative that activists take action to prevent groups from endorsing bad deals that do not serve the public interest. You would be boggled by the proverbial crumbs that those groups might be willing to accept as they "go along by getting along."

All kinds of issues could be in play. Natural Resources Defense Council infamously wrote in detail about "The 'Demonstration Project' Alternative" in comments submitted to DEC. There have been various requests for studies to be undertaken of potential economic impacts, climate change effects and health threats. Groups have strongly endorsed home rule.

No deal would be offered that does not accrue to the Governor's benefit. The proposed studies would likely have no meaningful benefits. I also do not believe that they should be supported because they will "buy time." Ironically, home rule could open the door to fracking in the five counties reported by The New York Times. In short, if the Governor gets political cover for permitting shale gas fracturing to proceed in any fashion, it would likely be the beginning of the end.

Jon Campbell of Gannett News recently reported: "When asked about recent reports that permits may ultimately be issued on a limited basis in five counties near the Pennsylvania border, Martens said everything is under consideration."

“'Virtually all of those things that were written about were ideas that were generated by organizations or individuals that responded to comments (emphasis added),' Martens said."

"He continued: 'We have to have answers to suggestions and comments that people made through the public-comment period. So we are looking at geographies, we’re looking at the number of applications, what we can handle. We’re trying to come up with a rational plan that works (emphasis added).'”


Every single member of the Hydraulic Fracturing Advisory Panel, notably Kate Sinding, Eric Goldstein, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Rob Moore, has steadfastly refused to sign either the de facto moratorium pledge or the Withdraw the Revised Draft SGEIS and the Oppose a Possible Southern Tier Fracking Demonstration Project coalition letters.

That preserves their freedom to negotiate deals as they see fit.

Kate Sinding wrote "there is no practical difference between what we have asked DEC to do in our comments and our public statements and what you are asking us to sign, other than that the latter was penned by you."

Eric Goldstein wrote to deny that NRDC "endorsed" either a "demonstration project" or a "special places" alternative.

It remains to be seen if they have the courage to stand by their convictions.

Against that backdrop, I implore you to keep pressuring Advisory Panel members to sign the de facto moratorium pledge. Also be ready to call and email them on a moment's notice to kill any pathetically weak political cover deal that might be announced.

If you are a member of the groups represented on the Fracking Advisory Panel, one of their funders or otherwise carry big weight with them, please call and email the Advisory Panel members today. The groups could be scared to death that they will be blamed if New York permits shale gas fracturing and horrific problems ensue. Lean very hard. Reject their lame excuses.

See Advisory Panel Members and Contact Info:

I continue to believe that the fundamental hazards of fracking must be fully resolved before permitting is allowed. That strategy is embodied in the de facto Moratorium Pledge:

Given the irreparable harm that shale gas extraction could wreak on New York's environment and public health, I request that Governor Cuomo maintain DEC's de facto moratorium on Marcellus Shale horizontal hydrofracturing until there is a consensus among all local, state and federal authorities as well as potentially impacted parties that the 17 major shortcomings documented in the Withdraw the Revised Draft SGEIS Coalition Letter have been fully resolved.

To refresh your memory, here is the Withdraw the Revised Draft SGEIS coalition letter:

Here is the No Fracking Demonstration Project Coalition letter. We only need a few dozen signatories to reach 3,000. Please pass this along.

Finally, please see below Ralph Nader's eloquent letter to Governor Cuomo. Thanks, Ralph. In your hand, the pen is truly mightier than the sword.

Thanks so much for all your help. Onward and upward.



Consumer Advocate Ralph Nader Opposes "Fracking"

WASHINGTON, Aug. 29, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Ralph Nader today called on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to reject the industry-led push to allow "Fracking" in New York State. Nader said, "Fracking poses threats to: drinking water sources, air quality, worker health and safety, wildlife, vegetation and property values."

A full copy of the letter follows:

August 29, 2012

Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
State Capital
Albany, NY 12224

Dear Governor Cuomo:

I am writing today to urge you to reject the industry-led push to allow "Fracking" in New York State. The rush to drill is frought with known and expected problems. Fracking poses threats to: drinking water sources, air quality, worker health and safety, wildlife, vegetation and property values. Scientists and environmentalists are extremely concerned about the long-term public health impacts of Fracking and the diversion Fracking constitutes to pursuing a clean, renewable and safe energy future.

On November 2, 2011 I joined with government officials; physicians, scientists, civic and public interest organizations, farmers, winery operators, and other business-owners and a variety of citizens from all walks of life in signing a letter to you pointing out some of the devastating consequences of Fracking and with New York State's approach to properly evaluating the environmental impact of this dangerous and unnecessary technology. Over 20,000 people signed this letter (see letter for a full list of signatories). The opposition is growing by the week as more people experience or learn about Fracking impacts.

Before you make a final decision on Fracking, it is incumbent on you to meet with some of the most knowledgeable opponents of this technology. I would be happy to assemble a small group of scientific and public health experts who can knowledgeably present the case against Fracking. Once you directly hear these arguments and cross-examine these experts in this dialogue, you will see the short and long-term problems with Fracking substantially outweigh the promised benefits.

Ralph Nader
P.O. Box 19312
Washington, DC 20036

SOURCE: Ralph Nader, Consumer Advocate