You are here

Stunning Developments/Cuomo is Our Next Target


I write to bring you up to date on the stunning developments regarding the veto of the mini-moratorium bill and Governor David A. Paterson's landmark Executive Order 41.

When the Governor vetoed the mini-moratorium bill late last Saturday, it was reported that he would issue an Executive Order requiring that "...if approved, high-volume, horizontal hydraulic fracturing would not be permitted until July 1, 2011, at the earliest."

Mini-moratorium supporters declared: "New York is the first state in the union to legally impose a statewide moratorium on high-volume hydraulic fracturing..." They also called the Governor's action an “historic victory for the citizens of New York State.”

In fact, the Executive Order does not impose any moratorium on horizontal hydrofracking.

According to "Executive Order No. 41: Requiring Further Environmental Review," no horizontal hydrofracking permits can be issued until a Final SGEIS is adopted. This is exactly the same de facto moratorium that has been in-place in New York for the last two and a half years.

Nevertheless, the Governor's order is SUPER IMPORTANT because it requires DEC to issue a "revised" draft SGEIS, accept public comment on the revisions and submit a report to the Governor regarding "the regulatory conditions that are necessary to include in oil and gas well permits to protect public health and the environment."

The Executive Order specifically requires: "The Department shall complete its review of the public comments, make such revisions to the Draft SGEIS that are necessary to analyze comprehensively (emphasis added) the environmental impacts associated with high-volume hydraulic fracturing combined with horizontal drilling, ensure that such impacts are appropriately avoided or mitigated consistent with the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA), other provisions of the Environmental Conservation Law and other laws, and ensures that adequate regulatory measures are identified to protect public health and the environment;"

DEC cannot possibly fulfill the Executive Order unless it expands the original scope of its SGEIS proceeding. If you read between the lines of Acting DEC Commissioner Peter Iwanowicz's quotes in today's New York Times, that conclusion is perfectly clear:

"Peter M. Iwanowicz, the department’s acting commissioner, said many of the comments have criticized the proposed standards for failing to adequately address issues like the cumulative impact of multiple drill sites, disposal of wastewater from the drilling and the protection of drinking water. He said 'it behooves' the next administration to incorporate the range of different issues in the revised draft."

The specific issues Peter references were excluded from the scope of the original SGEIS. Wastewater management and drinking water protection are two of the critical issues spelled out in our coalition letter to Governor Paterson.

"The governor’s order said no drilling permits could be issued until completion of the final standards 'subsequent to the conclusion of the public comment period,' meaning July 1 at the earliest. Mr. Iwanowicz said drilling could theoretically begin in 2011, 'but a lot of it depends on how the issues are addressed by this draft.'"

See: or

You can read the Executive Order at:

We must take concerted action to make sure Governor-Elect Cuomo does not rescind the Executive Order. That is highly unlikely because he would become the focus of intense criticism, to say the least.

We must also require the scope of the revised draft SGEIS to be expanded to include each and every single one of the major concerns identified in our coalition letter as well as by the thousands of other elected officials, environmental groups, business owners and concerned citizens.

I will be in touch very shortly to ask your help with those challenges.

In conclusion, I want to thank everyone who helped our coalition letter effort during the last year. The Executive Order affords an opportunity to send the draft SGEIS "back to the drawing board." It is precisely what we have collectively worked so hard to accomplish.

We are not out of the thicket yet, but things appear to be getting brighter. Keep your fingers crossed.

Happy Holidays.