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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

carolyn wells
400 east 17th st
brooklyn , ny
Martha Lash
5544 Maple Crest
Alfred Station, NY
Lisa Curtiss
20 Plaza Street East
Brooklyn, NY
Kim Donius
6444 Palmiter Road
Alfred Station, NY
Patricia Chernoff
environmental activist Morningside Friend Meeting
771 West End Ave. #10K
New York, NY
Olga (Terri) Husted
6018 Podunk Road
Trumansburg, NY
Christine tyrlik
10076 Beartown Road North
ava, new york
Mary Pendergast
Sisters of Mercy
125 Summit St
Pawtucket, RI
Jay Roelof
po box 497
cross river, NY
Sheila McCarthy
410 Grand Street
Mechanicville, NY
Jeffrey Zorn
202 Pine Tree Rd.
Ithaca, NY
Edith Cassel
152 Pine Tree Road
Ithaca, NY
Vitalah Gayle Simon
Human Race
113 Fairfax Ave
Hawthorne, NY
Brian Greeson
71 Willis Ave
S. Wales , NY
Bernice Winchester
2 Fern Avenue
Oneonta, NY
Sylvia Wulf
5 Ruthenbeck Road
Shandaken, NY
Gail Lopez
49 Forest Circle
Cooper City, FL
Peter Lees
205 Pine Tree Rd.
Ithaca, NY
KY Anna Anderson
35 Mill Street
Jeffersonville, NY
gloria giraldo
1779 Madison Ave. apt. 202
New York, NY
Arlene Bregman
51 Homestead Trail
White Lake, NY
Taryn Mattice
136 Pine Tree Rd.
Ithaca, NY
Bronwyn Frazier
159 southside Ave.
Hastings on Hudson, ny
Jeremy Alderson
POB 237
Hector, NY
PO BOX 1364
Sandra Lockhart
Friend of New Yorkers
3901 N. 13th Street
Arlington, VA
Susan Multer
3005 Watkins Road
Horseheads, NY
christopher bailey
1875 Crowe Rd.
Bloomville, NY
Kris FitzPatrick
26 Julia Dr
Hyde Park, NY
Lucille Caciola
41 Jerome Ave.
Binghamton, NY
Carolyn Wiggin
22 River Road
Lake Placid, New York
Madeline Bienstock
POB 33
White Lake, New York
Ben Furnas
528 East 13th Street
New York, NY
Gail S. Ganter-Toback
Climate Action Coalition of New Paltz
32 Center Street
New Paltz, New York
Bo Svensson
Visual Delights
63 Westgate Circle
Santa Rosa, CA
Kate Fuller
604 Westcott St.
Syracuse, NY
Sandra Salisbury
132 Peakville Rd.
East Branch, New York
Frederick Godley
PO Box 220
Morris, New York
Sharon Rappa Puma
620 William St.
Rome, NY
Frank Puma
620 William St.
Rome, NY
dawn-marie synan
120 delaware avenue #5
delhi, ny
Marcie Matthews
93 Dikeman Rd.
Pittsford, NY
Scarlett Emerson
jean Druffner
21 Grandview Acres Rd
Phoenicia, NY
Uta Gundelach
POB 811
Margaretville, NY
26 Julia Drive
Hyde Park, NY
michelle spark
25 esopus ave
phoenicia, NY
Gail Lennstrom
Mark PRoject
197 Swart Street
Margaretville, NY
Laura Pfeiffer
8290 Vermont Hill Rd
Holland, NY
Margo Gustina
611 W. Green St
Ithaca, NY
M C Goldstein
2922 Morgan Drive
Wantagh, NY
John Hamilton
213 First Street
Ithaca, NY
Farouk Abdallah
7219 5th Avenue, apt 2F
Brooklyn, NY
Elaine Marchand
Sisters of Mercy
176 Hillside Ave
Pawtucket, RI
scott l martin
7448 cty rd 36
naples, new york
Joshua Vasconi
4555 Murphy Road
Binghamton, New York
Jacob Vasconi
4555 Murphy Road
Binghamton, New York
Jordan Vasconi
4555 Murphy Road
Binghamton, New York
Lily Vasconi
4555 Murphy Road
Binghamton, New York
Frank Vasconi
4555 Murphy Road
Binghamton, New York
Karen Vasconi
4555 Murphy Road
Binghamton, New York
Dennis & Joanna Lane
140 Wagon Wheel Lane
Cutchogue, New York
James Stager
6 Ryder Court
Dix Hills, NY
Justin Navarette
31 Glenmore Road
Troy, NY
Leyana Dessauer
216 Miles Ave
Syracuse, NY
Susan ERny
2475 Rt. 209
Wurtsboro, NY
Andrew Stager
6 Ryder court
Dix hills, New York
Susan Van Dolsen
United for Action
29 Highland Rd.
Rye, New York
suzanne rauffenbart
395 broadway
nyc, ny
karen hiniker
380 hook road
katonah, NY
Tim Black
129 Williamson Rd
Blossburg, PA
David Morse
2420 Stonegate Trail
Corning, NY
Susan Morse
2420 Stonegate Trail
Corning, NY
Cynthia Lyons
2540 Harland Ames Rd.
Bolivar, NY
Carolyn Lyons
942 N 4th St.
Olean, NY
leslie rolfe
740 rt 17c
waverly, ny
Maria Fregoso
11 Hope Street #6
Brooklyn, NY
Carolyn Crosen
71 daub rd
Narrowsburg, NY
Laurie Salzberg
25 Mount Airy Rd. Apt. 1-A
Croton on Hudson, NY
Marea Gordett
Big Mind Learning
P.O. Box 308
Latham, NY
John Brhel
1647 Airport Road
Binghamton, NY
Frances Snedeker
Future Choices
20 Linden Ave
Matthew Minarchek
15 Penny Lane
Ithaca, NY
Douglas Kwazneski
63 Gilbert Rd
Saratoga Springs, NY
Grace Nichols
439 Elk St.
Albany, NY
Heather Renyck
North Second St.
Olean, NY
Cari Birkner
906 Russell Blvd, #C
Saint Louis, MO
Tom Morrissey
1 Hunter's Run Boulevard
Cohoes, NY
Martina Leonard
501 East 87 Street
New York, NY
John Striley
2088 rte 26 16/b
Endicott, NY
Elise Van Allen
P.O. Box 2286
Albany, New York
Peg Weidemann
733 W. 1st St
Elmira, NY
Rosemary McCabe
101 Pioneer Street
Cooperstown, NY
Ronald Lytel
58 River St.
Cooperstown, NY
Beth Olearczyk
58 River St.
Cooperstown, NY
Glen Zeeck
Trout Unlimited
6 Laurel Woods
Blairstown, NJ
Carol G. Henderson
230 Rachel Carson Way
Ithaca, Select One...
Joe Scaglione jr
8160 Interlaken Beach Rd
Interlaken, NY
Melody Ramsey
Dawes hil farm
532 Dawes hill road
Newfield, Ny
Adam Michaeldelides
293 station road
West danby, Ny
Andrew Gill
941 Gaywood Lane
Webster, New York
Keith Styles
Derby, NY
Terrene Cuddy
130 North St.
Auburn, NY
Thomas Sperry
501 Linn St
Ithaca, NY
Beth Cuddy
130 North St.
Auburn, NY
sarah bong
2129 Coddington Rd.
Brooktendale, NY
Terry Burns
116 Cascadilla Avenue
Ithaca, NY
Tammy Baker
706 N.Tioga Street
Ithaca, NY
Christian Scwabach
108 terrace place apt. 4
ithaca, ny
lisa holt
227 durfee hill road
ithaca, ny
debra lazinsky
215 main street po box 32
newfield, ny
megan redd
114 sunrise road
ithaca, ny
andrew rizos
110 ridgecrest road
ithaca, ny
katherine tephig
114 jefferson street
albany, ny
Michael Doyle
49 mattie
Auburn, NY
Robert Cotter
111 South Street
Auburn, NY
Walter Grosvenor
2010a Ellis Hollow Rd.
Ithaca, NY
Patricia Beer
81 Swift St
Auburn, NY
David Connelly
327 Cliffside Dr
Auburn, NY