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9/23/10 Letter to Governor Paterson

September 23, 2010

Honorable David A. Paterson
Governor, State of New York
The Capitol
Albany, NY 12224

Dear Governor Paterson:

I trust you have been well since I last wrote to you.

I sent you a coalition letter on December 28, 2009 requesting that you withdraw your Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement for Marcellus Shale Horizontal Hydrofracturing (draft SGEIS). I write today to reiterate that request and to inform you that the letter has achieved its goal of gaining more than 10,000 signatories. See:

With all respect, the signatories trust that you acted in good faith when you imposed a de facto moratorium on Marcellus Shale Horizontal Hydrofracturing pending adoption of a Final SGEIS. The scope of that proceeding was inadequate, however, and the resulting draft SGEIS has received withering criticism. Please withdraw the draft SGEIS for the good of all New Yorkers.

Unprecedented Coalition Letter

Citizens, elected officials, business leaders as well as local, state and national environmental groups have all signed the coalition letter. It provides detailed documentation of 270 fires, explosions, polluted water supply wells, unremediated drilling wastewater spills and homes evacuated due to natural gas and oil mining activities across New York.


Many of those hazards have never been cleaned up. That finding refutes DEC’s assertion that its existing 1992 GEIS regulations are sufficient to safeguard the environment and the public health. That erroneous assumption is the rationale for only requiring a Supplemental GEIS.

I later compiled even more troubling data from Health Departments in Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany Counties that documented hundreds of additional gas drilling hazards.

See: and

So many serious shortcomings have been identified in the scope of the SGEIS that there is a broad consensus the process must be restarted. Even the City of New York supports that request. The coalition letter also spells out numerous other concerns that must be addressed before Marcellus Shale Horizontal Hydrofracturing permits are issued in New York. None of those requirements have been met.

EPA Concerns regarding DEC’s draft SGEIS

Many of the coalition letter’s concerns were echoed in a 12/30/09 EPA letter that is highly critical of DEC’s draft SGEIS. EPA’s letter underscores why it must be withdrawn:

“…greater emphasis needs to be placed on the potential health impacts that may be associated with gas drilling and hydrofracturing. EPA suggests that New York State Department of Health (DOH) join NYSDEC as a co-lead on the SEQRA [State Environmental Quality Review Act] document.”

“EPA is concerned that over the past 17 years since the 1992 GEIS was written, the ‘existing’ environment and conditions in New York State have changed sufficiently that using the information from that report as a baseline for the dSGEIS will not take into account the cumulative impacts from habitat fragmentation, population increase, and climate change that may have occurred during that time.”

“While protecting the New York City watershed is important because of the millions of New Yorkers who rely on this drinking water supply, we also have concerns about water quality impacts throughout the state. Just because fewer people rely on upstate water sources does not imply that these supplies are not also worthy of protection.”

“…we have concerns regarding potential impacts to human health and the environment that we believe warrant further scientific and regulatory analysis. Of particular concern to EPA are issues involving water supply, water quality, wastewater treatment operations,
local and regional air quality, management of naturally occurring radioactive materials
disturbed during drilling, cumulative environmental impacts, and the New York City
watershed. EPA recommends that these concerns be addressed and essential
environmental protection measures established prior to the completion of the SEQRA process [emphasis added].”


Please note that EPA is on the record stating their concerns “warrant further scientific and regulatory analysis.” EPA evidently believes any revision of the draft SGEIS would be insufficient due to the need to conduct further scientific analysis. DEC is performing no such analysis. Even if EPA performs that analysis as part of its national hydrofracturing study, it would not be completed for at least two years.

I and many others recently testified about EPA’s proposed study and requested the agency to require DEC to withdraw its draft SGEIS in order to address the shortcomings specified by EPA. We noted that it is essential for EPA take action to prevent hydrofracturing hazards from developing in New York State.



In conclusion, Marcellus Shale Horizontal Hydrofracturing poses an unprecedented threat to the health, well-being and environment of an immense area of New York where more than eight million residents obtain their drinking water. It is absolutely imperative that New York’s major sources of drinking water be safeguarded. As you will see, that area covers 75% of New York’s Marcellus Shale formation.

You repeatedly promised that Marcellus Shale Horizontal Hydrofracturing would only be permitted if it could be done safely. That cannot happen unless DEC’s fatally-flawed draft SGEIS is withdrawn and “sent back to the drawing board” for comprehensive revision. We respectfully request that you act responsibly and withdraw the draft SGEIS before you leave office.

I trust you will find the coalition letter self-explanatory. Please contact me if you have any questions I might be able to answer about it. I look forward to your prompt reply.

Thank you for your consideration. Best of luck.

Very truly yours,

Walter Hang
215 North Cayuga Street
Ithaca, NY 14850