URGENT ACTION ALERT
April 18, 2013:
Three upstate New York community members, charged with criminal trespass for blockading a gas company installation last month, were sentenced to 15 days in jail on Wednesday by a local judge in an upstate courthouse.
Among those sentenced was university biology professor and author Sandra Steingraber, who delivered an impassioned statement ahead of the sentencing explaining why she was compelled to civil disobedience and why she would refuse to pay the fine levied by the judge.
"My small, non-violent act of trespass," said Steingraber to the crowd, "is set against a larger, more violent one: the trespass of hazardous chemicals into water and air and thereby into our bodies. This is a form of toxic trespass."
Steingraber's full sentencing statement follows:
Good afternoon. My name is Sandra Steingraber. I’m a biologist and a Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Ithaca College. I’m 53 years old and the mother of an 11-year-old son and a 14-year-old daughter. I’m married to an art teacher, and we all live in the village of Trumansburg, which is about 15 miles to the northeast, as the crow flies.Sandra Steingraber. (Portrait by Robert Shetterly / Americans Who Tell the Truth)
On March 18, 2013, together with 11 other local residents, I stood in the driveway of this site, which is owned by the Kansas City-based energy company called Inergy and located on the west bank of Seneca Lake. In so doing, I broke the law and am charged with trespassing. Before my arrest, I and the others with whom I linked arms, temporarily blocked a truck carrying a drill head from going where it wanted to go. This is my first experience with civil disobedience. Here is an explanation of my actions.
First, and most importantly, this act of civil disobedience is a last resort for me. Prior to this, I and other community members have taken every legal avenue to raise the serious health, economic, and environmental concerns associated with the Inergy plant. However, time and again, we’ve been deterred from participating in the decision-making process. For example, Inergy has declared the geological history of the salt caverns to be proprietary business information, so that much of the basic science on the structural integrity of the salt caverns is hidden from view. How can we offer informed public comments and raise scientific objection when we are denied this fundamental information?
Inergy has asked for fast-track FERC approval and that we fear that authorities are poised to rubber stamp these applications before the public has had a chance to review all the relevant information and the full impacts of these combined projects have been considered.
This act of civil disobedience was also undertaken to bring attention to the fact that this company has been out of compliance with the Clean Water Act every quarter for the last 12 quarters—which is as far back as the data go–exceeding its effluent discharge limit. For this behavior, the company has been fined, not once, but twice, to the tune of over $30,000.
Effluent discharge means that the company dumps chemicals directly into Seneca Lake, which is a source of drinking water for 100,000 people.
It is my belief that paying trivial fines does not excuse the crime of salting the lake. And it’s because I have such a high respect for the rule of law that I will be choosing not to pay a fine for my act of trespassing and will instead will show responsibility by accepting a jail sentence.
Second, I seek by my actions to shine a spotlight on the dangerous practice of converting abandoned salt caverns into storage containers for highly pressurized hydrocarbon gases, namely propane and butane. Legal or not, this practice is tantamount to burying giant cigarette lighters in the earth.
This form of liquefied petroleum gas storage has a troubled safety record. Leaks, explosions, and collapses have occurred in at least ten other places. Additionally, the fleets of diesel trucks and the planned 60 ft. high flare stack—even absent calamitous accidents—will add hazardous air pollutants to our communities. Thus, my small, non-violent act of trespass is set against a larger, more violent one: the trespass of hazardous chemicals into water and air and thereby into our bodies. This is a form of toxic trespass.
Lastly, I desire to bring attention to the rapid build-out of fracking infrastructure in New York. Even as we are engaged in a statewide conversation about whether our governor should maintain or lift the current moratorium on shale gas extraction via horizontal fracking in New York, technology that further entrenches our dependency on shale gas—pipelines, storage, compressor stations, processing plants—is being rapidly deployed. These infrastructure investments make fracking in New York State more likely and aid and abet fracking in other states, where it is associated with sickness and misery among people causes devastation to land, water, and air quality.
In a time of climate emergency, the transformation of the Finger Lakes into a massive transportation and storage hub for climate-destroying fossil fuel gases that have been fracked out shale in other states is the absolute wrong form of development.
I am a biologist, not a lawyer. But when I looked up my crime on Wikipedia, here is what it said:
Trespass to land involves the wrongful interference with one’s possessory rights in [real] property. William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England articulated the common law principle… translating from Latin as “for whoever owns the soil, it is theirs up to Heaven and down to Hell.” In modern times, courts have limited the right of absolute dominion over the subsurface. For instance, drilling a directional well that bottoms out beneath another’s property to access oil and gas reserves is trespass, but a subsurface invasion by hydraulic fracturing is not [emphasis added].
In other words, trespassing laws are unjust. They make a criminals of people who stand on a lakeshore purchased by an out-of-state fossil fuel company only interested in the hollowed out salt chambers that lie 1500 feet beneath the surface, while, at the same time, allowing drilling and fracking operations to tunnel freely under homes, farms, and aquifers, shatter our bedrock, and pump the shards full of toxic chemicals.
I broke the law by standing in a privately owned driveway. Fossil fuel companies are not breaking the law by trespassing into the atmosphere with heat-trapping gases and so creating planetary crisis. There are the disparities that I seek to communicate with my actions and, out of respect for the fidelity of law, with my willingness to accept a jail sentence rather than pay a fine.
As a working mother of two school-aged children, this is a decision I have reached after much discernment.
See: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/04/18-7 for more details.
Sandra has requested that all of her supporters write letters to the editor on this issue, rather than make attempts to have her released from jail.
Sign a New Coalition Letter to Prevent DOH's Bogus Fracking Review From Being Completed Within a "few weeks."
A Message from Walter Hang
Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013
Please sign this SUPER IMPORTANT NEW COALITION LETTER by clicking here:
I write to implore you to become a signatory to a new coalition letter that aims to prevent Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah from completing a bogus Review of the Public Health Impact of High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing within a "few weeks."
The letter requests that formal public participation and major revisions for the DOH Review be adopted. As I will explain below, those essential goals must be achieved without delay or New York's shale gas fracking moratorium could end extraordinarily soon.
Please sign the letter by clicking here: http://www.toxicstargeting.com/MarcellusShale/letters/2013/02/24/public-doh-review
DEC's Revised Shale Gas Rulemaking Proceeding Failed Because Neither the DOH Review Nor a Final SGEIS Could be Completed by the Deadline
I alerted you earlier that Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah wrote on 2/12/13 to inform DEC Commissioner Joe Martens that the DOH Review of HVHF could not be finished in time to adopt a Final SGEIS (Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement) and complete DEC's shale gas Revised Rulemaking proceeding by a drop-dead deadline of 2/27/13.
Dr. Shah stated: "I anticipate delivering the completed Public Health Review to you [Martens] within a few weeks (emphasis added), along with my recommendations."
Joe Martens stated that DEC could adopt a Final SGEIS after the DOH Review is completed if Shah raises no objections.
Shale gas extraction permits could be issued ten days later. More than 50 permit applications are in the pipeline.
See Dr. Shah's letter to DEC Commissioner Martens: http://www.toxicstargeting.com/MarcellusShale/documents/letters/2013/02/12/shah-letter-to-martens
See Commissioner Marten's statement: http://www.toxicstargeting.com/MarcellusShale/documents/letters/2013/02/12/martens-statement
Governor Cuomo Stubbornly Refuses to Require Public Participation for DOH Review
It is imperative to understand that the Cuomo Administration did not voluntarily end DEC's shale gas Revised Rulemaking Proceeding, halt the DOH Review or withdraw the draft SGEIS to address its shortcomings as more than 25,000 signatories to various coalition letters requested. Our campaign efforts since last November simply made completion of the DOH Review impossible.
Governor Cuomo refuses to require public notice regarding the intent of the DOH Review or how it is being undertaken. He has not required any opportunity for public review or comment. He will not hold even one public hearing to receive testimony about how DOH should conduct its Public Health Impact Review.
In short, the Governor has not yet responded favorably to three major coalition letters which request that the DOH Review be put on-hold pending fulfillment of formal public participation requirements. It is crucial to keep cranking up the heat until he makes the DOH Review "open and transparent."
If this cannot be achieved, shale gas fracking could begin depressingly shortly.
New Coalition Letter Requests That Major Revisions to DOH Review Be Adopted
The new coalition letter requests that major revisions to the DOH Review be adopted by asking that it include a detailed analysis of all the gas/oil extraction incidents that DEC refused to include in earlier drafts of the SGEIS. Hundreds of those incidents are documented in an Appendix.
The coalition letter also requests that the DOH Review not be completed pending review of the final results of three investigations that Dr. Shah referenced in his letter to Commissioner Martens. Dr. Shah called them "...the first comprehensive studies of HVHF health impacts at either the state or federal level." The letter states: We believe "prudence dictates (emphasis added)" that the DOH Review must assess the final results of these "first comprehensive studies (emphasis added)."
Our backs remain against the proverbial wall.
BEAT THE BUSHES FOR SIGNATORIES.
PUSH HARDER THAN EVER. NO LET UP. WE ARE NOT OUT OF THE WOODS YET.
Thanks so much for your help.
Clearing up Confusion about the DOH Health Impact Analysis Review
A Message from Walter Hang
Friday, Nov. 23, 2012
It now appears that the shale gas fracking moratorium will continue for at least a little while longer as Department of Health (DOH) Commissioner Shah and three outside experts conduct a ”review” of the public health impact analysis in DEC’s Revised Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS).
While any additional delay is welcome, the proposed review will not likely resolve the fundamental inadequacies of the Revised Draft SGEIS. As a result, the delay could be short-lived and could well pave the way for adoption of a Final SGEIS that permits shale gas fracking to begin in New York.
Nevertheless, DEC declared that no Final SGEIS would be adopted until DOH’s review is completed. That is why the reviewers must somehow be persuaded toaddress the numerous shortcomings documented in the Withdraw the Revised Draft SGEIS coalition letter. See: http://www.toxicstargeting.com/MarcellusShale/cuomo/coalition_letter/2011
Governor Cuomo Announces Shale Gas Regulatory Rulemaking Deadline Will be Missed
Governor Cuomo announced earlier this week that a 11/29/12 deadline for adopting proposed shale gas fracking regulations would be missed as the DOH healthimpact analysis review is conducted. As a result, that regulatory rulemaking proceeding would likely be restarted, possibly with an additional public comment period. No official details have been announced.
DEC’s Shale Gas Regulatory Rulemaking and SGEIS Permit Guideline Proceedings Are Separate and Distinct
It is critical to understand that there are two separate and distinct DEC shale gas proceedings now underway.
First and foremost, the SGEIS that has been discussed ad nauseum is a permit guideline proceeding that began in 2008. There is no deadline for its completion. Until a Final SGEIS is adopted, New York’s moratorium on shale gas fracking continues. Citizen concerns have focused on the SGEIS proceeding. More than 80,000 comments have been received about it.
On a parallel, but separate, track there is a shale gas regulatory rulemaking proceeding. It has a one-year deadline for completion that reportedly will be missed.
Restarting the regulatory rulemaking proceeding does not require the SGEIS to be restarted.
Requiring additional public comment for the rulemaking proposal does not require additional public comment for the SGEIS proceeding.
The most important thing to remember is that DEC cannot issue shale gas fracking permits until a Final SGEIS is adopted. Those permits can be granted, however, even if the rulemaking proceeding is not complete.
Why is a Health Impact Analysis Review Underway?
Various groups, physicians and individuals earlier supported an “independent health impact assessment” of shale gas fracking to be undertaken by an unbiased non-governmental entity, such as an academic institution. The requested assessment was envisioned to be a rigorous, comprehensive study of all the public health hazards posed by shale gas fracking.
DEC repeatedly rejected the independent health assessment request, notably last September during a private meeting between DEC and DOH and selected statewide and national enviros.
(Instead, DEC and DOH declared that Health Commissioner Shah would review the ”health impact analysis” presented in the Revised Draft SGEIS. His effort would be aided by “qualified outside experts” in the field.
There is huge confusion about this key fact, so please allow me to underscore what it means. No comprehensive public health impact assessment will be conducted by DOH. DOH and three outside experts will simply review the portions of the Revised Draft SGEIS related to DEC’s public health impact analysis.
DOH’s Health Impact Analysis Review is Not Likely to be Fruitful
DEC’s Revised Draft SGEIS is riddled with problems. The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency has repeatedly decried its inadequacies, especially its failure to protect public health.
Since these shortcomings are not addressed in the Revised Draft SGEIS, the health impact analysis review is not likely to be fruitful.
DEC steadfastly asserts that: “As a result of New York’s rigorous regulatory process, the types of problems reported to have occurred in states without such strong environmental laws and rigorous regulations haven’t happened here (emphasis added).”
DEC is essentially arguing that its programs prevent the public from being exposed to gas or oil extraction pollutants. As a result, there is no risk of public health hazards. As a result, there is no need to conduct a comprehensive health impact assessment or adopt any more stringent safeguards than the Revised Draft SGEIS provides.
DEC continues to assert its factually incorrect and misleading claims despite extensive documentation of thousands of gas and oil pollution problems that have been brought to light since the SGEIS began in 2008. DEC is unlikely to change course unless its assertions are totally discredited.
Much Confusion About DOH’s Health Impact Analysis Review
Some enviros evidently misconstrued what was said in the September meeting with DEC Commissioner Martens and DOH Commissioner Shah. A 9/21/12 AP article about the meeting referenced one attorney who attended the meeting: “She said they were told that DEC had done a health impact review since the comment period ended on its environmental review and regulations.” The attorney reportedly also noted: “We have not seen that, but I understand this to mean this is something that will be vetted by the department of health and independent experts…“ Another activist reportedly wanted to know “who conducted DEC’s health study…”
No evidence has been publicly released that DEC conducted its own health impact study after the comment period ended for the Revised Draft SGEIS and itsproposed regulations. DEC stated plainly that the DOH review would be limited to its existing Revised Draft SGEIS. See: http://www.dec.ny.gov/press/85071.html
BTW, some activists claimed that the paucity of the word “health” in the Revised Draft SGEIS is ample evidence of its inadequate attention to that concern. Please note that pursuant to the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act:
“Environment means the physical conditions that will be affected by a proposed action, including land, air, water, minerals, flora, fauna, noise, resources of agricultural, archeological, historic or aesthetic significance, existing patterns of population concentration, distribution or growth, existing community or neighborhood character, and human health (emphasis added).
New York’s shale gas fracking moratorium will continue in the immediate future, but it could end once the DOH health impact analysis review is done. DEC must be prevented from adopting a Final SGEIS until the 17 critical concerns documented in the Withdraw the Revised Draft SGEIS coalition letter have been resolved. Many of those issues involve public health hazards.
1) DOH Commissioner Shah and the three outside experts must be made fully aware that New York’s gas and oil regulatory efforts are documented to be woefully inadequate based on DEC’s own data as well as local health department records in the areas of the Southern Tier where gas and oil extraction hasprincipally been conducted.
2) The reviewers must be persuaded that the Revised Draft SGIS cannot be adopted because it fails to document:
a) the full spectrum of toxic air, land and water contaminants resulting from conventional natural gas extraction as well as shale gas fracturing;
b) the environmental fate and transport mechanisms involving those pollutants;
c) the long-term cumulative health impacts resulting from trace-level exposures to natural gas extraction pollutants in air, surface and ground water, drinking water andsoil, including health impacts involving long latency periods; and
d) how New Yorkers can be protected from all those gas extraction hazards.
3) If DEC’s shale gas regulatory rule making proceeding is restarted and a new public comment period is required, the SGEIS proceeding should similarly be restarted with a new comment period.
Requiring additional public comment on the SGEIS would be extremely important because all the regulatory shortcomings documented since 2008 could be added to the scope of the proceeding.
See my letter to Governor Cuomo regarding this request: http://www.toxicstargeting.com/MarcellusShale/letters/2012/10/24/restart-sgeis
I implore activists and leaders of environmental groups to work together in the weeks and months to come to prevent an inadequate Final SGEIS from being adopted. If we unify our efforts, this could be achieved by destroying DEC’s myth that its gas and oil regulations adequately safeguard the environment and public health.
Our goal must be to restart the current SGEIS proceeding or, better yet, initiate an entirely new GEIS to replace the gas and oil permit guidelines adopted in 1992.
Adopting a new GEIS is precisely what Governor Paterson’s key environmental advisor proposed in 2008. EPA proposed adopting a new GEIS in 2009.
The last GEIS took 12 years to adopt. Until a Final SGEIS or GEIS is adopted, New York’s shale gas fracking moratorium would remain in effect.
In conclusion, Governor Cuomo could very shortly decide this matter for good or for ill. Everything we have worked so hard to achieve in the last three years isat stake.
The bottom line is: No Final SGEIS, no shale gas fracking in New York. That is the only reason there is still not a single fracked shale gas well in the Empire State.
URGENT ACTION ALERT
FOR ALL SOUTHERN TIER RESIDENTS
AND NEW YORKERS AT LARGE
Governor Cuomo wants to allow fracking to take place in BROOME, TIOGA, STEUBEN, CHEMUNG AND CHENANGO Counties, even though he has said it is too dangerous to risk the contamination of the water for New York City, Syracuse, the Finger Lakes and more than 200 towns that have enacted bans or moratorium to prevent fracking in their towns. Allowing this to occur in our community is referred to as “THE DEMONSTRATION PROJECT”. SCIENTISTS FIRMLY STATE THAT ALL GAS WELL CASINGS WILL FAIL BY THE NATURE OF THE MATERIALS FROM WHICH THEY ARE MADE. MORE THAN 6% FAIL AT THE TIME OF INSTALLATION; 100% WILL FAIL OVER TIME, allowing toxic chemicals and gas to migrate into ground water. States such as Pennsylvania, Wyoming, Colorado, Texas, West Virginia, etc., ARE OUR DEMONSTRATION PROJECT already. Their water, health, property values, and quality of life have been severely negatively affected. DON’T LET IT HAPPEN HERE TO US.
Here are 3 quick, but critical things that you should do NOW with your cell phone, to make sure we are not the next victims of the untrustworthy gas industry:
· Call GOVERNOR CUOMO’S OFFICE NOW: (518) 474-8390. Tell him that you “are requesting that there be NO DEMONSTRATION PROJECT IN THE SOUTHERN TIER OR ANYWHERE ELSE. IF IT IS NOT SAFE TO DRILL IN THE NYC AND OTHER WATER SHEDS, IT IS SURELY NOT SAFE TO DRILL ANYWHERE ELSE.”
· Send GOVERNOR CUOMO an email stating the message above, using the link: http://www.governor.ny.gov/contact/GovernorContactForm.php
· Sign the critical coalition letter to tell Governor Cuomo to protect the Southern Tier, at:
New video and letter from Josh Fox
I know I don’t have to tell any of you what a vulnerable moment this is for New York and all New Yorkers. The New York Times has reported that Governor Andrew Cuomo will soon announce that drilling will be permitted in parts of the following five New York Counties: Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Steuben and Tioga in the Southern Tier. The Governor’s office has made no official announcement as yet, but all indications suggest that the counties listed above will be the first to be sacrificed and that drilling may be permitted as early as this summer.
We’ve made a new short film, The Sky is Pink, which has just been released at Rolling Stone Magazine online. The Sky Is Pink details the shocking campaign of misinformation perpetuated by the gas industry, their flagrant disregard for the health and safety of the communities they ravage, and the historic decision that Governor Cuomo is about to make.
We’re telling Governor Cuomo that there are no expendable counties or communities in New York State and that we are not willing to allow the gas industry to exploit or endanger any of our fellow citizens. Governor Cuomo and his administration must be held to their promise to make decisions on behalf of New Yorkers based on sound science and they must provide the people of New York with a full Health Impact Assessment. We demand that no weak compromises or deals are cut that send New York down the slippery slope toward a full-scale assault by the gas industry.
I’m asking you to help us make sure this film reaches far and wide. Clearly the 60,000 comments received by New York’s Department of Environmental Protection have been ignored. Clearly, we’re going to need to be even louder this time if we are going to be heard.
We need to tell Governor that hydraulic fracturing is not safe, not now, not ever and not in New York State.
Read Jeff Goodell's article at Rolling Stone Magazine here:
You`can also watch the full film here:
Please, send it to everyone you know. Post it everywhere you can.
Greetings to all citizens who care about the quality of life in New York:
We have made great progress in halting the expansion of Fracking into New York State, but there is still a long way to go. There is currently a discussion among decision makers in Albany about allowing the Southern Tier of New York to be a "Demonstration Project" for fracking - i.e. an experiment to see how it goes. I don't know about you, but I don't want our beautiful home to be a science experiment for the gas companies to make a few billion dollars while the rest of the state watches. We need to tell Governor Cuomo that the Southern Tier of New York DOES NOT WANT fracking - and that we do NOT want to be a "Demonstration Project."
We urge you to immediately sign the coalition letter described below and to encourage family and friends to do the same. Even if you have already signed previous letters, we need your signature on this one TODAY - it only takes a minute and could be the difference between fracking and no-fracking in New York.
Please contact us with any questions about this - we need to generate as many signatures as possible right away because the decisions are being made NOW in Albany.
Thank you for your support,
Benjamin and Elaine Perkus
New York Residents Against Drilling
Heads Up!!! This is an urgent call to action.
You can help: 1) block a possible Southern Tier Horizontal Hydraulic Fracturing "Demonstration Project" and 2) require Governor Cuomo to fulfill the truly onerous requirements of Executive Order No. 41.
PLEASE SIGN THIS NEW COALITION LETTER: http://toxicstargeting.com/MarcellusShale/cuomo/coalition_letter/2012/demo-order-41
Excerpt from a letter from Walter Hang, www.toxicstargeting.com:
Bad Compromise Deals Alert
I recently reported that Governor Cuomo has been unable to render a "final decision" to permit horizontal hydraulic fracturing despite his February 8th promise to do that "in a couple of months."
It is also now apparent that no "statewide ban," "moratorium," "home-rule" or any other anti-fracking bills are likely to be enacted this legislative session.
Pressure on Governor Cuomo continues to build regarding the fate of Marcellus Shale gas extraction in New York. That is why we must make absolutely sure that no wretchedly bad compromise deals are struck to provide political cover for the powers-that-be.
Some environmental groups are reportedly discussing potentially allowing limited shale gas fracking in Broome, Tioga and Chemung counties. Those are the main areas where shale gas extraction has been proposed in New York.
See one national environmental group's "demonstration project" comments to DEC: http://toxicstargeting.com/sites/default/files/pdfs/ene_12011201a-p8-9.pdf
Sign This NEW Coalition letter
Please join me in signing a Coalition Letter to Governor Cuomo which requests that he withhold permitting for any horizontal hydraulic fracturing "demonstration project" in the Southern Tier or anywhere else in New York.
The coalition letter also requests that Governor Cuomo fulfill the mandates of Executive Order No. 41 without further delay. I urge you to read those mandates. They are extraordinarily powerful.
SIGN THE NEW COALITION LETTER TODAY!!!. GET MORE SIGNATORIES: http://toxicstargeting.com/MarcellusShale/cuomo/coalition_letter/2012/demo-order-41
PUT UP A SIGN!
Call (607) 798-0787 or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let your neighbors know that YOU care.
Tell us where you are located - signs are too large to be mailed.
$5 donation per sign requested so that we can buy more.
Your help is much appreciated.
CRITICAL ACTION ALERT
It was early February when Gov. Cuomo said that a decision about whether to frack for shale gas in NY would be made in "a couple months."
TIME IS GROWING VERY SHORT.
It is critical to contact the governor NOW and tell him your concerns about shale gas extraction.
If you are convinced there should be a BAN on fracking for shale gas, please tell Gov. Cuomo.
If you think we need a MORATORIUM while more study takes place, tell him that.
If you think we need a HEALTH STUDY before any decision is made, tell him that.
If you think we need a study of the CUMULATIVE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS of drilling tens of thousands of shale gas wells in NY, tell him that.
If you are worried about ADVERSE ECONOMIC IMPACTS--like devaluation of residential property, damage to farming, damage to tourism, etc., tell him that.
Please urge everyone you know to contact the governor EVERY DAY.
Every phone call makes a difference.
The more calls and emails he gets, the better.
Here is Governor Cuomo's contact information:
The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224