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Happy Thanksgiving/Tom Wilber's New Series Reveals Shale Fracking Hazards That PA Still Struggles to Cope With and How Close New York Came to Getting Fracked

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I trust you will join me in expressing immense gratitude on Thanksgiving that New York still remains 100% shale-fracking-free, at least for now. That is surely worthy of a toast or two.

I am pleased to alert you that Tom Wilber's enlightening three-part series "The Promise of Fracking" was published this week in many Gannett papers. Tom reports that "grossly inflated" fracking benefits promised in Pennsylvania never materialized and the state still struggles with fracking hazards that authorities failed to prevent.

Tom also reports how incredibly close New York came to getting fracked in 2008 and why "the future of a fracking ban is questionable."

The series ran with huge front-page banner headlines and jumped to massive in-depth investigatory pieces replete with graphs, pics and pithy analysis. Thanks for all your hard work, Tom. Congrats.

Some of our latest efforts are reported in the third segment "Impact on New York."


Thank You For All Your Great Work

Perusing Tom's recounting of the last seven years, we should all feel enormous satisfaction. Our unprecedented efforts helped keep New York safe from fracking against overwhelming political odds. We could not have hoped for anything more than that.

New York originally avoided PA's fracking troubles because a de facto shale fracking moratorium was adopted through the leadership of Judith Enck, Governor Paterson's environmental policy adviser and current EPA Region 2 Administrator; Pete Grannis, former DEC Commissioner; Stuart Gruskin, the Executive Deputy Commissioner; and the Governor.

Without their wisdom and courage, New York would have been fracked just like PA. The key thing is that no one ever thought the de facto moratorium would last seven years.

Our highly coordinated research, policy advocacy and political organizing played a key role in extending New York's fracking moratorium year after grueling year by winning critical victories until the political tide eventually turned and Governor Cuomo ultimately adopted a High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing (HVHF) prohibition, however flawed.

Without our strategically focused 24/7 campaign, New York likely would have shared the fate of states in more than half the nation where shale fracking is underway. No other grassroots campaign has replicated our accomplishments or come even remotely close to prohibiting statewide shale gas extraction where firms actually want to frack.

Broome County: the Epicenter of New York's Fracking Fight

Everyone thought shale fracking was a done deal until we came along. Tom reports how Broome County Executive, Barbara Fiala, championed shale fracking at the height of the gas "leasing frenzy" circa 2008 - 2009. He reports that, "Fiala's administration was so confident in the promise that it budgeted $5 million in lease and royalty revenue expected for county property for two years in a row."

One of our first critical victories was killing Broome County's public lands leasing proposal not once but twice. That was achieved in part due to County Attorney Joseph Sluzar's requirement that legislators with mineral rights leases had to be recused and because pro-frackers thought they could get a better deal. As a former lobbyist, I knew we could win once I counted heads.

That landmark victory marked the beginning of many trials-by-fire involving Elaine, Ben and Eyana Rose Perkus, Karen Glauber, their fellow NYRADians and the inestimable Binghamton Mayor, Matt Ryan. Without them, New Yorkers almost certainly would not have prevailed. Bless you all.

Check out Ms. Fiala's amusingly snarky email to me regarding our respectful coalition letter:

We Are Not Out of the Fracking Woods Quite Yet

The final installment of Mr. Wilber's series includes a section entitled, "Fracking in New York? Some claim ban not airtight"

You can say that again. Tom points out, "the status of the state's ban on fracking is still a live issue." Regarding proposed gelled propane fracking in Barton, NY, he notes, "The Snyder well application could represent a workaround of the fracking ban. But it raises a larger question: With changing technology, shifting policies, more money on the table, new markets, and surging demand, could a new administration rescind the ban altogether?"

He writes, "A primary justification of the ban, however, is the 'current uncertainty' about the science of fracking and its impacts on public health." He reports that, "Commissioner Martens said,"a state ban could be lifted with changing technology and more complete understanding of fracking's impacts."

Fractivists have often been told by enviro groups that New York totally banned fracking because science "proves" shale fracking cannot be done safely.

In reality, the state's HVHF prohibition does not include waterless fracking methods and is also unclear in its wording. Moreover, the Department of Health report reached a highly nuanced conclusion that could change any time:

"the overall weight of the evidence from the cumulative body of information contained in this Public Health Review demonstrates that there are significant uncertainties about the kinds of adverse health outcomes that may be associated with HVHF, the likelihood of the occurrence of adverse health outcomes, and the effectiveness of some of the mitigation measures in reducing or preventing environmental impacts which could adversely affect public health."

Even worse, the Final SGEIS actually provides authority for permitting shale fracking. This is why we worked so hard to gain the No-Action decision. DEC said it:

"would use the 1992 GEIS (Generic Environmental Impact Statement) and the Final SGEIS in reviewing applications to conduct high-volume hydraulic fracturing shale fracking operations in New York State if high-volume hydraulic fracturing were authorized."

Attorneys promise that they would sue to stop fracking, but that does not mean they would necessarily win in court or achieve a legal "stay."

For all these reasons, we are still slogging on and taking absolutely nothing for granted.

What a Big Finish!!!

Against that complex background, I believe more than ever that New York avoided shale fracking because we collectively waged a shrewd and relentless public policy and political campaign in the best democratic tradition. Our defining moment may have come when Zephyr Teachout and Tim Wu took up our cause.

Through the short, but blistering campaign summarized below, we made shale fracking a key election factor. As a result, Governor Cuomo received one million fewer votes compared to his 2010 election tally.

That stunning outcome for a sitting governor with presidential aspirations almost certainly decided the fate of shale fracking in New York. Thank you Zephyr, Tim and everyone who helped so much down the homestretch. That is what I call a Big Finish!!!

Zephyr and Tim, may you both have the Happiest of Thanksgivings. All your help remains greatly appreciated. That was so much fun. Congratulations on your historic accomplishments.

That goes double for everyone who put their hearts and minds into making our six-year campaign so uniquely successful. If only everything could turn out so well.

Thank you. Keep slugging.



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07/30/14 Guess who joined our fight???/Latest Coalition Letter Goes Nuclear

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08/11/14 Zephyr Teachout Visits Ithaca and Holds Historic Meeting With Fractivists From Across New York State - 8/9/14

08/20/14 In visit to Ithaca, little-known challenger to Gov. Cuomo promises "˜upset of the century"™

08/20/14 Incredible Zephyr Teachout Meeting With Fractivists in Ithaca/Less Than Three Weeks to Go Until Democratic Primary Day

Zephyr Teachout Meets With Local Ithaca Officials and Citizens 8/21/14

08/29/14 Zephyr Teachout Meets With Local Ithaca Officials and Citizens 8/21/14

09/02/14 Please Take Urgent Action: The Coming Week Could Determine the Fate of Shale Fracking in New York State/The Seven Days Until the Democratic Gubernatorial Primary Will be a "Political Eternity"

09/08/14 URGENT ACTION ALERT: Tomorrow's Democratic Primary (9/9/14) Could Decide the Fate of Shale Fracking in New York/Tim Wu Signs our Withdraw the Draft SGEIS Coalition Letters

09/09/14 Thank You and Congratulations on Yet Another Historic Fractivist Day

09/11/14 Superb Job on Primary Day/Push Harder Than Ever Until Election Day: 11/4/14

09/19/14 Plan of Action Until Election Day/More Amazingly Powerful Letters Sent to Andrew Cuomo/Prominent Fractivists Respectfully Write Green Groups

09/22/14 Cuomo foes dog him on fracking

10/02/14 Great Front-Page Fractivist Coverage Cranks up the Heat as Andrew Cuomo's Reelection Bid Enters Crucial Final Stage

10/24/14 What impact can fracking have on our health?

10/24/14 Anti-Hydrofracking Activists Hope to Pressure Cuomo into Health Impact Study

10/24/14 Letter Sent to Top 500 Cuomo Campaign Contributors Requesting DOH "Review" and Draft SGEIS be Halted

10/24/14 Top 500 Cuomo Campaign Contributors

10/24/14 Cuomo Contributors Letter News Conference 10/21/14

10/28/14 Cuomo Says DOH "Review" Should be Done by End of 2014/Crank up the Heat/Contributors Letter/Assemblywoman Deborah Glick Fracking Town Hall Meeting

11/02/14 Fractivists Participate in 10/29/14 Town Hall Discussion Hosted by Assemblywoman Deborah Glick

11/02/14 Take Urgent Action in the Days Ahead

11/06/14 Fracking Issues Discussed After Cuomo Wins Another Term

11/06/14 Pump up the pressure on Cuomo on fracking: Glick

11/07/14 Thank You for a Great Gubernatorial Campaign/Cuomo Could Make Key Shale Fracking Decision by End of Year/Take Action Today

11/10/14 Round Two for Gov. Cuomo

11/12/14 Red Letter Day!!! Landmark Editorial in The New York Times Echoes Our DOH "Review" Concerns and Requests

12/05/14 Thank you/Our Biggest Challenge Looms Directly Ahead