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Coalition Letter to Governor Cuomo Regarding Executive Order No. 41: Requiring Further Environmental Review of High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing Combined With Horizontal Drilling

January 5, 2011

Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor, State of New York
The Capitol
Albany, NY 12224

Dear Governor Cuomo:

We, the undersigned, strongly support safeguarding the environment, public health and natural resources of the Catskills, Finger Lakes and Southern Tier regions that overlay New York’s Marcellus Shale formation, potentially the largest natural gas reservoir in America. That is why we write to thank you for your “continuation” of Executive Order No. 41: Requiring Further Environmental Review of High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing Combined With Horizontal Drilling.

That order requires your Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to:

“complete its review of the public comments, make such revisions to the Draft SGEIS that are necessary to analyze comprehensively 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 (stet) that adequate regulatory measures are identified to protect public health and the environment;”

More than 10,000 citizens, elected officials, business owners, environmental groups and students are signatories to a letter that requested Governor Paterson to withdraw the draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (draft SGEIS) due to its fundamental inadequacies and send it back to the drawing board. We are very grateful that Executive Order No. 41 requires DEC to address those shortcomings “comprehensively” before lifting New York’s de facto Marcellus Shale horizontal hydrofracking moratorium.


A 12/13/10 article in The New York Times underscores the flaws of the draft SGEIS proceeding. Then Acting DEC Commissioner, Peter Iwanowicz, reportedly 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.”

DEC deliberately excluded a broad range of critical issues from the scope of the SGEIS proceeding by ignoring extensive testimony at its scoping hearings. Moreover, a great deal of new information has become available since the scoping process ended. Against that background and in order to fulfill the goals of Executive Order No. 41, we respectfully request that you require DEC to:

A) Convene a Citizens Advisory Committee as well as a separate Technical Advisory Committee to guide the agency in its decision-making. At a minimum, these committees should be comprised of representatives from: 1) local, state and federal government agencies involved with regulating Marcellus Shale gas matters; 2) local governments, the State Legislature and Congress; 3) the natural gas industry; 4) property owners who leased their mineral rights; 5) civic, environmental, public interest and good government groups; 6) concerned citizens; and 7) academic researchers.

B) Provide public notice and accept comments for no less than 30 days regarding how the agency can best fulfill the requirements of Executive Order No. 41; respond in writing to all comments before beginning the process of revising the draft SGEIS; and afford the public regular, on-going opportunities for participation and comment.

C) Adopt the following proposed policies:

  1. Discharges of natural gas flowback, drilling and production wastewaters must meet New York State’s GA (groundwater that supplies potable drinking water) effluent limitations when discharged into ground and surface waters or public and private treatment plants or re-used for hydraulic fracturing or injected into underground disposal wells. Natural gas wastewaters have been documented to contain high concentrations of Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), toxic chemicals and Technology Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (TENORM). These persistent pollutants can contaminate groundwaters, “pass through” “secondary” wastewater treatment systems, concentrate in residual sludges and cause worker hazards.
  2. Marcellus Shale horizontal hydrofracturing must be regulated by Individual EIS proceedings instead of a Generic EIS. DEC proposed to require individual EIS reviews for the New York City and Syracuse watersheds, but not for the rest of the Marcellus Shale formation. Moreover, according to the draft SGEIS, “Flowback water recoveries reported from horizontal Marcellus wells in the northern tier of Pennsylvania range between 9 and 35 percent of the fracturing fluid pumped (emphasis added)” (Page 5-97.) Those meager recovery rates support the conclusion that horizontal hydrofracturing constitutes deep well injection of fluids that could threaten drinking water supply sources. DEC requires State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) permits for deep well injection of natural gas fluid. Those permits can only be granted on the basis of site-specific, individual EIS reviews.
  3. An investigation must be undertaken to determine whether the 1992 GEIS is sufficient to safeguard public health and if “No known instances of groundwater contamination have occurred from previous horizontal drilling or hydraulic fracturing projects in New York State.” (See: DEC Marcellus Shale homepage.)

    DEC concluded in its Final SGEIS Scope: “In the absence of a pattern of incidents that indicates a regulatory weakness or gap, the occurrence of isolated accidents or violations do not of themselves constitute reason to re-open the GEIS.” (See 8.3.2)

    DEC’s assertion is directly contradicted by hundreds of spills reported to the agency as well as additional information compiled by Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany County Health Departments. Those data were not provided to DEC during its scoping hearings.

    DEC’s investigation must include a review of the following information:

  4. DEC’s GEIS must be updated on a comprehensive basis. The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency wrote to DEC that its 1992 GEIS is out-of-date in so many respects that it should not serve as the basis for developing new horizontal hydrofracturing regulations. DEC must revise the GEIS to address all of the regulatory shortcomings identified by EPA, including: potential impacts to public health, water supply, water quality, wastewater treatment operations, local and regional air quality, management of naturally occurring radioactive materials and cumulative environmental impacts.



In conclusion, Executive Order No. 41 is an historic effort to require DEC to make sure that the environmental impacts associated with Marcellus Shale horizontal hydrofracturing are “appropriately avoided or mitigated” prior to the permitting of that activity. The actions we respectfully request you to undertake would help achieve that goal and serve as a model of effective government regulation for the nation as a whole.

Thank you very much for your consideration. Best of luck with your administration.

Very truly yours,

Total Signatory Count: 5254

Walter Hang
215 N. Cayuga Street
Ithaca, NY
Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel
NY State Assembly
45 N Station Plaza
Great Neck, NY
Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton
106 East Court Street
Ithaca, NY
Richard DePaolo
Town of Ithaca Board
126 Northview Rd
Ithaca, NY
Katherine Halton
Danby Town Board & Danby Gas Drilling Task Force
2505 Danby Road
Willseyville (mailing address), New York
James W. Hamilton
Town of Ithaca Conservation Board
1603 Slaterville Rd
Ithaca, New York
Marty Petrovic
Village of Trumansburg, mayor
62 East Seneca Rd.
Trumansburg, NY
Kathy Luz Herrera
Tompkins County Legislature
116 Utica St.
Ithaca, NY
Pam Mackesey
Tompkins County Legislature
323 Pleasant
Ithaca, NY
Nicole Dillingham
Otsego 2000, Inc.
Po Box 1130
Cooperstown New York, New York
Assembly Member Daniel O'Donnell
245 West 104th Street
New York, NY
Elizabeth Thomas
Town of Ulysses - Councilwoman
3406 Gorge Road
Trumansburg, New York
Lee Ann Stock
Town of Danube, Herkimer Co. Councilwoman
2175 River Road
Fort Plain, NY
Pete Seeger
Beacon, NY
elaine perkus
1617 state route 12
binghamton, ny
Esther Herkowitz
365 Tupper Road
Newfield, New York
Robin Lawson
241 Noyes Road
Vestal, New York
Carl Rosenstock
443 Hicks Street, Apt 4G
Brooklyn, NY
Elizabeth Taylor-Schott
536 Spencer Road
Ithaca, NY
David Brown
Cornell University
92 Ithaca Rd
Ithaca, NY
K. Hartquist
168 Mulberry St.
Rochester, NY
August Guyot
65 Greene St.
New York, NY
travis knapp
Dancing Turtle
8274 Kellogg Street
Clinton, NY
Nancy Cook
9501 Scott Road
Painted Post, NY
Theresa George
93 Ellis Hollow Creek Road
Ithaca, NY
Peter Harrity
6709 Glen Haven Rd.
Homer, NY
Margaret Fry Keating
3970 County Rd. 2
Hector, NY
david cromwell burrow
435 Hollow Road
Glen Spey, NY
Julia Widdowson
Millbrook Matters
339 N. Mabbettsville Rd
Millbrook, NY
susan straight
Back to Democracy
5539 bower rd.
trumansburg, ny
Lynn Miller
3401 James Street #14
Syracuse, NY
George R Fehling
PO Box 583
Bangall , NY
Elizabeth Woods
272 Comfort Road
Ithaca, NY
Alice Churchill
102 Olde Towne Rd
Ithaca, NY
Bill King
130 Westhaven Rd.
Ithaca, NY
Rita Calvo
110 Cobb St.
Ithaca, New York
william hecht
po box 86
union springs, ny
Thomas Shelley
Sustainable Tompkins
118 E. Court St.
Ithaca, NY
Marcy Gordon
260 Rogers Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
Mark F. Lenzenweger, PhD
420 Utica Street
Ithaca, NY
dennis coluccio
cherry valley advocates
2231 county highway 50
cgherry valley, ny
Eric Bare
1010 Powderhouse Rd.
Vestal, New York
Bruce MacInnes
739 Oquaga Lake Road
Deposit, NY
Jeanne Fudala
Citizens Coalition To Protect NY,People For A Healthy Environment, Inc.,Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association
1697 School St.
Alpine, NY
Rosellen McFarland
4117 David Rd.
Painted Post, NY
Kathleen Chase
250 Red House Hill Road
Cooperstown, NY
John Suter
21 Brooktondale Rd
Ithaca, NY
John Friel
521 West State Road
Cortland, NY
Terry Mingle
17 Isabel Drive
Cortland, NY
Curt Dunnam
5244 Perry City Rd.
Trumansburg, NY
Abbe Lyons
154 Westhaven Rd
Ithaca, NY
Laura E. Jones
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Cornell University
507 Cayuga Heights Road
Ithaca, NY
Cally Arthur
112 W Lincoln Street
Ithaca, NY
Jane Welsh
7676 McCormick Rd
Hamilton, NY
Abigail C Cohn
309 The Parkway
Ithaca, NY
Martha McGowan
Otsego 2000
287 County Highway 28
Cooperstown, NY
Judith Rowe
407 Oquaga Lake Road
Deposit, NY
Amie Hamlin
127 Snyder Hill Road
Ithaca, NY
Randy Wayne
201 Roat Street
Ithaca, NY
Natasha Suter
21 Brooktondale Rd.
Ithaca, NY
Victor Salvatore, Jr.
287 County Highway 28
Cooperstown, NY
mary katzenstein
1189 Ellis Hollow Road
Ithaca, NY
Anthony Del Plato
3509 West Avenue
Interlaken, NY
Kevin Reilly
175 Stockholm St. - Apt. 211
Brooklyn, NY
judith barker
309 Washington Street
Ithaca, New York
Keith Lisy
51 MacDougal Street, Suite 170
New York, New York
Ben Oswald
1225 Hinging Post Road
Ithaca, New York
Angela Early
118 W Court St, Apt 4
Ithaca, NY
karen Glauber
117 Rock Rd
Vestal, NY
Kris Miller
Center for Earth Essentials
301 Brink Road
van Etten , nY
Peter Bardaglio
9748 Arden Rd.
Trumansburg, NY
Jeffrey Feczko
., .
Barbara Stopha
130 Crest Lane
Ithaca, New York
Ken Zeserson
Concerned Citizens of Ulysses/Ulysses Gas Drilling Advisory Board
83 Maplewood Road
Ithaca, NY
Dorothy Tang
423 Beaver Meadow Road
Cooperstown, New York
Lori Solensten
Crumhorn Lake Association
152 Hall Rd
Maryland, NY
Lewis Ward
246 Smith Rd.
Newfield, New York
Emily Carroll
212 Esty St.
Ithaca, NY
carol richardson
1892 seneca street
romulus, new york
Russell Dusenberry
134 Westhaven Road
Ithaca, NY
Maryann Dietz
335 Glimmerglen Road
Cooperstown, NY
Lydia Damiano
3066 N. Swamp Rd.
Alpine, NY
Daniel Aneshansley
118 Glenside Rd.
Ithaca, NY
Olivia Vent
194 East Miller Road
Ithaca, NY
Nancy Kasper
9393 York Settlement Rd.
North Rose, NY
Rebecca Miller
3901 County Road 139
Ovid, NY
Elisa Evett
298 Bald Hill Rd.
Brooktondale, New York
Norman Farwell
643 County Hwy 8
Morris, NY
Karen K Smith
68 Mary St.
Ithaca, NY
Louise Henrie
417 Second Street
Ithaca, NY
Daniel Otis
815 North Tioga Street
Ithaca, NY
josette berardi
341 Day Street
Horseheads, NY
David Helsing
510 N Pine St
Horseheads, NY
Diane Stein
40 Harrison Street, Apt. 15A
New York, New York
Pamela Stanley
380 Riverside Drive, Apt. 1H
New york, NY
Thomas Johnson
9 Burns Rd.
Brooktondale, NY
Janice Nigro
105 King St.
Ithaca, NY
patricia ruvolo
305 Watkins Rd
Horseheads, NY
mark saginario
2014 Davis Rd
Corning, NY
jason livingston
335 Cascadilla St
Ithaca, NY
Nancy Sharpe
216 6th Street
Liverpool, New York
joseph vega
341 Day St
horseheads, NY
John Rogers
721 Five Mile Dr #1
Ithaca, NY
Margaret Sutton
shaleshock CNY
878 W. Elizabeth St.
Skaneateles, New York
Jonathan Culler
909 Wyckoff Road
Ithaca, NY
Linda Lavine
719 Ringwood Rd
Ithaca, NY
richard cox
305 Watkins Rd
Horseheads, NY
Diana and Joe Whiting
33 Griffin st.
skaneateles, NY
Louise Lessard
132 Graham Blvd.
Staten Island, NY
Charley Tarr
347 Bird Avenue
Buffalo, NY
Mary Guzzy
1 Catherine Drive
Corning, NY
Ronald E. Bishop
Sustainable Otsego
188 County Highway 52
Cooperstown, NY
Charles Greene
3 Sunny Knoll Rd
Ithaca, NY
Lorraine Manelis
4279 Lake Road
Avoca, NY
Charles Izzo
1108 N Cayuga St
Ithaca, NY
Mary Donch
45 May Street #6A
New Rochelle, New York
Lonnie Chu
179 Nichols Ave
Syracuse, NY
Kathleen Bell
10220 Griswold Rd
Corning, New York
Devin Henry
PO Box 413
Nichols, New York
Norma Thompson
125 South St
Crystal Lake, IL