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Truly Amazing DEC Revelations/Please Keep Calling Governor Cuomo/Thanks for all of your help

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The ten-day review and comment period is over for the Final SGEIS (Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement). The SGEIS proceeding that began nearly seven years ago will end as soon as the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) issues a legally-binding Findings Statement and renders a final decision in this matter.

Ever since we began bird-dogging Andrew Cuomo during his 2010 gubernatorial race, our efforts to safeguard New York from shale fracking have focused enormously powerful political forces on the Governor. It is only now coming to light how important our work has truly been.

On September 7, 2011, the Cuomo administration issued a Revised Draft SGEIS that strongly supported shale fracking, but our dogged campaign was instrumental in blocking adoption of that woefully inadequate proposal as well as the related 2012 Department of Health "review."

After the Public Health Review was released on December 17, 2014 and the Final SGEIS was adopted on May 13, 2015, our strategy had forced Governor Cuomo to reverse policy direction by a full 180 degrees. Instead, his administration proposed to prohibit shale fracking from proceeding anywhere in New York State "at this time."

That train of events is documented on the last page of my Final SGEIS comments:

Amazing DEC Revelations

This political outcome is extraordinarily important because buried deep in its Final SGEIS comments, DEC reveals that the Cuomo administration was totally unprepared to administer shale gas extraction in New York even as the Governor supported high-volume hydraulic fracturing throughout his first term.

The agency also revealed why it did not adopt strict liability, private right of legal action and financial surety safeguards that are the only effective way to protect New York from shale fracking if it is ever authorized.

DEC's stunning revelations are simply breath-taking:

"Furthermore, because the allocation of Department resources, including the use of an industry-financed fund or issuance of a tax to pay for new staff, cover enforcement, remediate road damage, undertake future repairs and cover environmental damage, is outside the scope of the SGEIS, as it would require legislative action, there is uncertainty as to how the Department would effectively fund and administer this complex program (emphasis added)."

"Nor does current law does [stet] authorize the Department to mandate that operators pay into an escrow account or fund, obtain insurance coverage or post bonds to address remediation, pollution and monitoring (emphasis added)"

"The Department proposed [shale fracking, not in the original] regulations that would have removed the cap and required operators to post financial security in an amount that reflects the true costs of plugging a deep well. But here too, the lapse of these draft regulations creates significant uncertainty regarding permit issuance, and would limit the amount of financial security regardless of the true cost of plugging the well. The Department agrees that the existing financial security requirements are uncertain (emphasis added)."

See pages RTC 315 - 319 at:

With all respect, I believe these profoundly disturbing admissions document the Cuomo administration acted irresponsibly by continuing to propose shale fracking permitting in New York despite its awareness that DEC's serious administrative and environmental protection inadequacies would not be resolved by adopting a Final SGEIS.

During the entire four years of Governor Cuomo's first term, no meaningful efforts were initiated by his administration to resolve all these problems on a comprehensive basis by working cooperatively with the Legislature.

The Governor also never stated that shale fracking could not be permitted until major concerns "outside the scope of the SGEIS," were resolved. Instead, he forged ahead to try to permit shale fracking.

In light of these revelations, I believe Governor Cuomo must fully explain his actions to his constituents. At stake is public confidence in his administration's ability to safeguard public health and the environment from wide-ranging toxic hazards across New York.

Important Letter from Peter N. Skinner, P. E.

Finally, on page RTC-324 of its comments, DEC states, "Most of the reported incidents pre-date the 1992 GEIS and many of them were found to be unrelated to oil and gas drilling. Those that may have been related to drilling were investigated and addressed by the Department."

A strikingly different picture of the Division of Mineral Resources is presented in a detailed letter from Peter N. Skinner, P. E., the former Environmental Science Team Supervisor for the New York State Attorney General. Mr. Skinner is a professional engineer who was personally involved with innovative attempts to help a family plagued with gas intrusion hazards in the area of New York where conventional gas and oil extraction is centered. DEC was not helpful to say the least.

See: as well as

I met Mr. Skinner and his nationally renowned colleagues at the office of the Attorney General nearly 40 years ago. Mr. Skinner offers a perspective that is extremely important for citizens and decision-makers to consider. I commend him for speaking out.

Even if shale fracking is never authorized in New York, communities across New York are threatened by tens of thousands of active oil and gas production wells, abandoned and unplugged wells and gas/oil extraction wastewater dumping pits that were outlawed 25 years ago, but have yet to be eliminated.

Those oil and gas hazards have not received adequate regulatory attention for decades. DEC has no plan to resolve the problem and even refuses to acknowledge that it exists. Those challenges lie ahead in the years to come.

In the immediate future, our astute and hard-hitting campaign powered by thousands of dedicated and coachable activists has perhaps arrived at the threshold of an incredibly improbable victory that might protect New York from shale fracking for many years to come. We will have to see what unfolds.

But no jinxing our shut-out, eh?

Please Keep Calling Governor Cuomo at 518 474 8390 until the Final SGEIS Findings Statement is issued.

You will hear a recording. Press 2 to leave a message or press 3 to speak with a live person. Either option is fine.

State very respectfully that you request DEC's Findings Statement to implement:

A. the No - Action Alternative.

B. the Department of Health's key policy recommendation:

"Until the science provides sufficient information to determine the level of risk to public health from HVHF [high-volume hydraulic fracturing] to all New Yorkers and whether the risks can be adequately managed, DOH recommends that HVHF should not proceed in NYS."

C. a requirement that DEC's final decision in this matter cannot be revisited without conducting a new Environmental Impact Assessment pursuant to the State Environmental Quality Review Act.

Please thank Governor Cuomo for his public service under trying circumstances.

Play to the proverbial whistle. No resting our laurels. It is not over until it's over.

Very best regards,


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