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Update & Action Alert: Bird-Dogging Cuomo

Key Dates & Deadlines
  • August 19: Andrew Cuomo visiting Ithaca, Montour Falls & Penn Yan
  • August 20: Andrew Cuomo in Hornell
  • September: EPA Fracking Study
  • November 2: Election Day
  • December 31: withdraw dSGEIS


I trust you have been very well since we last communicated. Thanks, again, for all your help.

The next three and a half months could very well decide the fate of Marcellus Shale Horizontal Hydrofracking (MS HH) in New York State. I write to let you know how I believe we should use that exceedingly short period of time to our best advantage.

Bird-Dogging Andrew Cuomo

Please be advised that gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo will be visiting Ithaca, Montour Falls and Penn Yan on 8/19/10. He will be in Hornell on 8/20/10. We generated intense press coverage when he showed up last week in Binghamton. Check out this front-page:

Andrew Cuomo supports extraction of Marcellus Shale Gas in New York. He must be greeted by huge crowds at every campaign stop. He must be hounded into supporting withdrawal of the draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (dSGEIS). See his schedule below.

Bird-dogging this pro-MS HH candidate is critically important for reasons I will explain. Please show up in Ithaca at the Women’s Community Building by 10:15 AM. Earlier is even better.

Withdraw the draft SGEIS

I am thrilled to report that we finally achieved our goal of gaining 10,000 signatories for the coalition letter requesting Governor Paterson to withdraw the dSGEIS. I cannot tell you what a stupendous achievement this is. See:

I believe this proposal is our best hope for preventing a MS HH catastrophe in New York. It enjoys the support of hundreds of elected officials, local, state and national environmental groups, farmers, business owners and thousands of citizens. It has received massive press coverage.

There is a de facto moratorium on MS HH in New York until a Final SGEIS is adopted. I repeat: there will likely be no MS HH in New York until a Final SGEIS is adopted. If the dSGEIS can be withdrawn, it should take DEC a decade to address its woeful inadequacies. It took DEC 12 years to adopt the current 1992 GEIS.

Down the Homestretch

DEC’s dSGEIS has received withering criticism from the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), New York City, elected officials, environmental groups and citizens, but the agency is forging ahead with adopting its fatally-flawed proposal.

We have built a very broad coalition supporting withdrawal of the dSGEIS, but we have failed to achieve our goal. Simply put, we need help, particularly from the following heavy hitters:

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has to safeguard “West of Hudson” reservoirs above the MS formation that supply unfiltered drinking water to 90% of the nine million people who rely on New York City’s system. He supports withdrawing the dSGEIS, but has yet to do the “heavy lifting.” See my letter asking for his increased assistance:

EPA Region 2 voiced “grave reservations" about the dSGEIS, but has failed to enforce its concerns. See my letter requesting President Obama to withhold environmental funding to NYS until EPA’s concerns are met:

Andrew Cuomo needs our votes to get elected Governor, but he has taken a pro-MS HH position that is shockingly weak on environmental and public health protection. See:

If he believes MS HH would cost him a lot of votes, he would take swift action to resolve that problem. The more pressure we bring to bear on him, the more he might be willing to do.

In particular, candidate Cuomo cannot win the election without New York City residents who make up nearly half of the statewide electorate. According to a 7/13/10 Cornell poll, 59% of residents in and around NYC agreed that MS HH “contamination risk outweighs potential revenues.” That is why Mayor Bloomberg and NYC activists could be critical to our success.

What You Can Do

With each passing day, we draw closer to a Final SGEIS being adopted and MS HH permits being issued. It is critical to crank up the pressure on key officials who can require the dSGEIS to be withdrawn.


We have three landmark dates looming between now and the end of the year.

September: EPA will reportedly hold its last Fracking Study hearing somewher in New York sometime in September. That event will be a critical test of our grassroots support. We must show up in maximum strength and pressure EPA to enforce its 12/30/09 letter. See:

November 2nd: We have until election day to pressure Andrew Cuomo and other candidates for higher office to oppose MS HH and to require the dSGEIS to be withdrawn.

WE MUST COLLECTIVELY ATTEND EVERY SINGLE ONE OF CUOMO'S CAMPAIGN EVENTS AND FUNDRAISERS. He must be confronted at every stop by anti-MS HH crowds as well as No Fracking Way! and Withdraw the dSGEIS! signs. He must be hounded every waking moment until election day to withdraw the dSGEIS.

I strongly encourage you to support candidates of your choosing who oppose MS HH and support withdrawing the dSGEIS. You should similarly undermine Pro-MS HH candidates.

December 31st: Last, but not least, we have until the end of the year to pressure Commissioner Grannis and Governor Paterson to withdraw the dSGEIS. We need EPA Region 2 Adminstrator Enck, Mayor Bloomberg and Andrew Cuomo to join forces with activists, business leaders and elected officials to make sure that happens.


In conclusion, the dSGEIS is woefully inadequate. EPA said so in an incredibly powerful letter to DEC. Thousands of elected officials, environmental groups and citizens concur. Demand the dSGEIS be withdrawn and revised. Call and email key decision-makers today.

New York can avoid the pollution problems of PA and other states with long histories of extraction mining, but it will require super “heavy lifting.” This fight will be incredibly close and will undoubtedly go down to the wire.

Many environmental activists have counted DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis, Executive Deputy Commissioner Stewart Gruskin, Deputy Commissioner Val Washington and EPA Region 2 Administrator Judith Enck as their friends and public interest colleagues for more than 30 years. Please appeal to them directly. The moment of truth is at hand. NYPIRGers call now.

I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your continued help. Thank you.

The chips are down. Go to work. No excuses.

Best wishes,


Key Contact Info:

DEC Commissioner Alexander "Pete" Grannis:

EPA Region 2 Administrator Judith Enck

Governor David Paterson

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg

New York Gubernatorial Candidate Andrew Cuomo

Andrew Cuomo’s Schedule for Thursday, Aug. 19th

  • Tompkins County: Ithaca
    11:00 AM
    Women's Community Bldg, 100 W. Seneca St., Ithaca.
  • Schuyler County: Montour Falls
    12:30 PM
    Montour House, Main Street
  • Yates County: Penn Yan
    6:30PM – 8:00PM
    Milly’s Pantry Café Next Door on Main Street

Friday, August 20th

  • 11:00 AM at the Hornell Knights of Columbus

P. S. Many activists have asked me about the State Senate moratorium bill and the EPA Fracking study.

State Senate Thompson Bill

Even though I did not lobby any bills last session, I was asked to offer my “prognosis” of the State Senate’s passage of the Thompson Marcellus Shale gas drilling moratorium bill. Please note that no moratorium has been enacted. The bill has not been passed by the Assembly, which might not return to Albany until September. If that happens, the Governor would either sign the bill into law or veto it.

I understand the Assembly plans to pass the bill. I have no idea what the Governor will do.

Note that the bill would only prevent Marcellus Shale drilling permits from being issued until 5/15/11. It is unlikely that any MS HH permits would be granted by then even if the bill is not enacted. Moreover, only a handful of MS vertical well applications are received annually.

DEC has repeatedly stated that it aims to adopt a Final SGEIS by the end of the year. Various groups have promised to take legal action once that happens. It is very likely that those legal challenges would extend past 5/15/11.

Note that the bill neither prevents the dSGEIS from being adopted nor requires its woeful shortcomings to be corrected.

EPA Fracking Study

I have been asked about the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Fracking Study. EPA first contacted me in January about my natural gas hazard data. I have since spoken at length with the head of the study and investigators involved with it.

The study will probably have a limited scope and is unlikely to reveal anything that is not already documented about hydrofracking hazards. It will not likely halt MS HH in New York since EPA has no authority to issue drilling permits.

Given the study’s shortcomings, I oppose supporting any moratorium pegged to the completion of the EPA study.