Thursday, July 24, 2014

Fwd: [Unconstitutional Pipeline] LTE on Michael Zagata

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Adrian Kuzminski 
Date: Thu, Jul 24, 2014 at 1:58 PM
Subject:LTE on Michael Zagata

This letter was published in the Freemans Journal, 24 July 2014. FYI.



To the Editor:

Your recent laudatory and seemingly never-ending profile of pro-fracker and former DEC commissioner Michael Zagata ---
 quite possibly the longest article ever published in The Freeman's Journal since it began 206 years ago --- leaves readers wholly in the dark about why he has been severely criticized by environmentalists, The New York Times, and others.

In their 1997 book, The Riverkeepers, John Cronin and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., pointed out that then Governor Pataki fulfilled his promise to make the DEC more "business friendly" by appointing oil company executive Zagata as DEC commissioner.  Zagata proceeded to replace DEC enforcement by industry "self-policing." He dramatically reduced factory inspections, sped issuance of pollution permits by "steamrolling public participation requirements," and ordered inspectors to give six month warnings instead of issuing tickets for "environmental crime." Zagata cut the legal staff by 25%, firing "virtually all of the agencies' pollution litigators." The DEC's principal litigator, Chuck Dworkin, fired by Zagata, stated that "after the purge, everyone put their heads down and stopped enforcing. Now the big companies know they can thumb their noses at the regulated."

As a result, the authors wrote, Zagata "quickly endeared himself to the worse polluters of New York State," the worst of all being GE. At the time GE was facing up to $20 million in penalties for illegal conduct at its Waterford plant above Albany, which DEC counsel Joseph Kowalczyk called "the second most significant hazardous waste problem in the state." After a "secret meeting" with GE, a deal was struck in which the DEC dropped all charges and claims, GE received some tax write offs, and the company got insulated from further lawsuits. GE in return agreed to spend $1.5 million on environmental benefit programs, including building a boat launch on the Hudson conveniently near Zagata's upstate home.

Zagata's anti-environmental views were clear to many, including The New York Times, even before his appointment. In an 18 February 1995 piece, the Times described Zataga as "as inappropriate choice to be chief steward of the state's threatened natural resources." The Times reminded its readers that Zagata advocated opening up "the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling." The Times also took Zagata to task for supporting "a misguided concept called 'mitigation banking,' which would allow companies to develop protected wetlands on the promise to create new, ecologically suspect sanctuaries."

Zagata eventually got into trouble for personal use of DEC vehicles and was forced out of office to a state-wide chorus of "Zagatago!"  But what is far worse was his consistent record of promoting a mindless, pro-business policy in blatant disregard of established environmental standards and safeguards, and the damage that it caused. It is a sad commentary that your article distorts his public record so dramatically. 

The same week that you published your profile, the NYS Court of Appeals came down with an historic decision, upholding the home rule land use legislation of the towns of MIddlefield and Dryden to ban fracking in their communities. Your coverage of this landmark case in the Freeman's Journal was swamped by your paean to Zagata, while in your spinoff Hometown Oneonta, the landmark case was further reduced to a brief recognition, with your Zagata puff piece even more dominant.

It is deeply troubling that a court decision of great significance affecting not only the future of the natural gas industry in NYS, but perhaps nationally and beyond, was given such short-shrift in your newspaper. This was an event unparalleled in local and state history, deserving perhaps of a special edition of your newspaper, given that resistance to fracking in our area involved hundreds and hundreds of local activists who mobilized thousands of others in unprecedented fashion to persuade 10 municipalities in Otsego County and beyond to resist just the sort of corporate intrusion that Zagata welcomed.  All of which calls into question not only your editor's journalistic judgement on of what constitutes important news, but where he stands on vital energy issues.

Adrian Kuzminski
Moderator, Sustainable Otsego

Robert H. Boyle
Founder, Riverkeeper and The Hudson River Foundation for Science and Environmental Research 

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May you, and all beings
be happy and free from suffering :)
-- ancient Buddhist Prayer (Metta)

Don't forget to sign the
Pledge to Resist
the Constitution Pipeline:

Longmont CO Fracking Ban Struck Down -- COMPARED to NY?

Somewhat Troubling--

Everything substantial in the NY cases and the Longmont case seems identical (except for prior caselaw).
In the NY decision (the Middlefield and the Dryden cases), home rule in land use decisions was universally upheld. However with (as near as I can tell) identical basis in law, the courts found something different.

I've just scanned the decision and it seems to me that the NY and Colorado laws regarding local land use and pre-eemption are nearly identical, the Dryden/Middlefield laws, and the Longmont laws were roughly equivalent, and the arguments on both sides also seemed nearly identical.

However, the Colorado courts (in prior caselaw) have (IMO arbitrarily) held that while Home Rule over land use decisions apply, that a municipality cannot completely ban gas drilling.

In Voss v. Lundvall Bros (the "Greeley case") that

Because oil and gas pools do not conform to the boundaries of local government, Greeley's total ban on drilling within the city limits substantially impedes the interest of the state in fostering the efficient development and production of oil and gas resources in a manner that prevents waste and that furthers the correlative rights of owners and producers in a common pool or source of supply to a just and equitable share of profits.

Huh? Do they have local land use controls, or not?

NB: Much of this language sounds identical to the NY law, so it seems that maybe ALEC is behind both the NY and the Colorado laws.

ALSO NOTE WELL how the Environmental Conservation Law has been subverted to PROMOTE DRILLING.

The same thing has happened in NY! Kurkowski/West argued that the Oil, Gas, and Solutions Mining Law, which is part of the NY Environmental Conservation Law (ECL), and this subordinate to it's enabling clause and legislative intent of PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT, was in fact intended to Promote Mining.

They way they accomplish this is in when they bolt O+G regulation into the Environmental Conservation Law.

They are very clever to say that the REASON for REGULATING the oil and gas industry under the ECL is to foster:

"efficient development and production of oil and gas resources in a manner that  prevents waste" (an environmental purpose)

This language in the Colorado Law is nearly identical to the NY ECL.

And they always seem to include the phrase about "correlative rights of landowners".

Once that whole package is there, the O+G attys then argue that the legislative intent is to PROMOTE MINING. However, if you trace out the authority of the law back to the state constitution, it is clear this is an usurpation.

Here's the hierarchy of law in NY. Home Rule Powers (zoning) and Police Powers are both based in PROTECTION. This is evident in all levels of NY law, from the Constitution, the NY Town Law, and the ECL.

I am omitting the full text of the enabling statutes and the constitutional authority, but you may want to look these up. (very interesting).

NO WHERE can I find a legislative directive that mining activity or O+G development is a duty of the state, or in the state interest.

The Colorado Supreme Court determined that the Greeley ordinance was preempted by state law. The Court stated:

Because oil and gas pools do not conform to the boundaries of local government, Greeley's total ban on drilling within the city limits substantially impedes the interest of the state in fostering the efficient development and production of oil and gas resources in a manner that prevents waste and that furthers the correlative rights of owners and producers in a common pool or source of supply to a just and equitable share of profits.

Let's remember Chip Northrup's early presentations that the notion of "pooling" refers to conventional oil+gas development. However shale gas deposits are SOLID ROCK, so the notion of "pooling" is irrelevant and a false analogy.

See: or

They then go on to state something rather bizarre:

In so holding, we do not mean to imply that Greeley is prohibited from exercising any land-use authority over those areas of the city in which oil and gas activities are occurring or are contemplated.

In sum, the Colorado courts, with the SAME BASIS IN LAW AS NY, found that promoting oil and gas development is in the interest of the state, and that while a town has Home Rule authority over local land use (YAY!), they can prohibit such mining activity in certain areas, but cannot ban it altogether (Huh?).

Local municipalities have the power to say No to Drilling,
as long as they say Yes to Drilling.

I see no reason why the NY courts could not have done something similar.

Since I am not a lawyer,
I would appreciate analysis from experts... :)


May you, and all beings
be happy and free from suffering :)
-- ancient Buddhist Prayer (Metta)

Don't forget to sign the
Pledge to Resist
the Constitution Pipeline:

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Line in the Sand (get jazzed video)

Friends, if you want to get jazzed about
the state of the movement,
then may want to check this:

A Line in the Sand at Watkins Glen, NY

This is one of the best things I've seen in a long time...
Hope you can find some time
and watch all 6 videos
of the Watkins Glen resistance to the LNG/NGL storage facility
which would industrialize a precious tourist and farming region.

Also, in case you didn't make it to DC,
then watch the Stop Cove Point Rally video:

Rachel Heinhorst & Family (Cove Point Ground Zero)

The People's Puppets perform "The FERC Rubber Stamp Song"

Dr. Sandra Steingraber:

Craig Stevens:

Fred Tutman

Tim DeChristopher

If you only can watch one, then
Holy God-- watch Rev. Lennox Yearwood.

Enjoy and Share!

May you, and all beings
be happy and free from suffering :)
-- ancient Buddhist Prayer (Metta)

Don't forget to sign the
Pledge to Resist
the Constitution Pipeline:

Friday, July 18, 2014

Pledge to Resist the Constitution Pipeline (Please Read)

This page:

Sign the Pledge:
Hi all--

I have been working on documenting and resisting
the absurdly named "Constitution Pipeline" project
for the last 2.5 years.

This pipeline, if built, would
  • Cause severe and lasting regional environmental impacts, including the destruction of 
  • Demand a dramatic increase in the pace of fracking in NE PA,
    where they have already suffered grave impacts to their health
    and well-being, and seen their rural communities transformed into heavy industrial zones.
  • AND promote fracking in NY.
I have documented dozens of hours of public hearings,
where I and others have found countless deficiencies,
omissions, and outright fraud in the application, and also
FERC's draft EIS.

It is becoming clear to me that FERC is not only an unelected
agency, but it is utterly unaccountable to the President, Congress
or We the People.

And the "public participation" in the permit proceedings are a sham. 

As of the recent decision in the DC Circuit Court decision
("No Gas Pipeline vs. FERC"), it was ruled that,

-- GET THIS!! --
FERC can VIOLATE THE LAW (in this case, the National Environmental Policy Act),
yet citizens cannot petition the courts for review
unless they have suffered demonstrable environmental harms or health impacts

(which, like the case of Radon exposure, can take 20 years to manifest).

This means that -- barring Congress changing the law --
 FERC is utterly unaccountable .... to anyone*

(* except the energy industry which pays their salaries.
YEP! It's true! FERC receives $ZERO funding from Congress!!)

I am an intervenor in this project who lives in an area
which would suffer large-scale regional impacts should this get built,
against the wishes of the majority of people here.

I have many friends and family who live in the gasfields of PA who have
already suffered grave impacts, and development there would increase
dramatically to supply this pipeline.

That's why I created a petition to the FERC Commissioners and to President Obama.

I was just in DC last weekend, and I will tell you this:
for being the ONE PLACE which has
Now we must resist fracking infrastructure.

I and others have not given up hope on Administrative Remedies.
We have several clever legal maneuvers up our sleeves.

However, we need a back up plan, should these remedies fail.

NY is the place where we will REVERSE the move to frack.
People, it's time to take a stand.
For present and future generations.
Let the resistance begin with me.

Will you please sign and share this petition?
-- OR --
Bill Huston

May you, and all beings
be happy and free from suffering :)
-- ancient Buddhist Prayer (Metta)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Why the NRDC must be carefully watched

Chip wrote:

> The Kate sets the record straight on why the EPA's proposed power
> plant CO 2 emissions go easy on methane. Because power plant rules 
> per se don't address methane. . . they address power plants.
> Not for nothing is she The Kate.

Sorry Chip, I'm not buying it.

I'm not sure why you go so hard on the EDF but give NRDC a free pass.

It sounds to me like NRDC is running cover for the EPA,
which, with these rules,  are clearly promoting fracking
(at the expense of coal).

Everyone who has a casual understanding of the facts
knows the intent and expected outcome of these rules
will be



-- each of these have massive environmental impacts.

Three points:

1: EPA's rule must include impacts of "related projects" under NEPA

While Kate @ NRDC claims,

"Simply put, there is no place in [the EPA's new power plant rules]
to tackle emissions from so-called "upstream" production of oil and gas."

Sorry-- There clearly IS such a mechanism, and it's NEPA:

Under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), a proposed action must consider the impacts
of all "closely related" projects
, avoid project segmentation, and take into account
Cumulative Impacts.

This was the big takeaway from the recent Delaware Riverkeeper vs. FERC* case,
where the Circuit Court of DC ruled that FERC had allowed project segmentation
of "closely related projects" and thus failed to take into account cumulative impacts
in four separate pipeline projects involving the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company
(Kinder Morgan).
  • New EPA rules demand conversion of coal-fired plants to gas-fired,
  • Gas-fired power plants require a connection to a transmission line
    (which all leak, have blowdowns, etc),
  • ...which requires compressor stations (notorious emittors of GHGs and other pollutants), 
  • ... which requires storage facilities (which all leak)
  • and which require SHALE GAS FRACKING, which leak methane via multiple vectors,
    and also are known to contaminate groundwater:

Thus, there is a clear argument under NEPA that FRACKING, and Pipelines are
"closely related" to gas-fired power plants, thus the cumulative impacts of these
MUST be examined by the EPA power plant rules (but are not).

I am a little surprised that Kate either doesn't know this (unlikely) or is unwilling
to make this clear argument under NEPA.

Why would NRDC basically give EPA a pass, citing some (as yet)
theoretical regulation of methane emissions of fracking directly?

And why should we trust the EPA?

Let us recall the EPA abruptly cancelled THREE investigations into groundwater
contamination from fracking
during a Presidential election year.

This maybe pleased Mr. "All of the Above" Obama, but the people in Pavillion WY,
Parker Co. TX, and DImock PA, and MANY other affected people as the
map above shows, are NOT SO HAPPY with the EPA.

I think someone should file lawsuit against EPA  claiming these new
Power Plant rules violate NEPA using the argument in Delaware Riverkeeper v. FERC.

But it doesn't sound like it will be NRDC.
Unless Kate has a change of heart?

2: NRDC understimates GHG potential of Methane

In their comments arguing for "direct regulation of the Oil and Gas Sector" they are using obsolete conversion factors
for Greenhouse Gas Potential of Methane.

They cite the 2013 IPCC report as authoritative that
methane is 87x the GHG potential of CO2 @ 20 years,

However, neither the IPCC report nor the NRDC's comments cite the 2011 paper
by Howarth, Santoro, and Ingraffea
which says that it is more likely
105x CO2's effect @ 20 years.

Also several studies recently have reported that methane leaks from
a) gas development areas, b) the entire distribution system--
from gathering line systems, transmission lines, and local distribution
networks, are all occurring at much higher rates than previously estimated.

Thus, the combination with the understated GHG potential of methane
@ 20 years, PLUS the leaky production/distrubution network -- which
gas fired plants will require (more if which the new EPA rules will demand)
will pose an extremely serious threat to Global Warming.

I believe Kate/NRDC should take a much more aggressive posture at fighting these rules.

3: NRDC & "Gang Green" do some good work, but must be carefully watched

I will admit that NRDC has done some good work recently.

e.g.,  I recall a recent lawsuit in the Town of Sanford over a gag order on
public comments, a clear violation of the First Amendment and NY Open Meetings Law:

Good stuff NRDC!
Thanks! Keep it up!

However, I can easily recall many other times the NRDC
(and similar orgs) have betrayed the public interest,
and NEGOTIATED AGREEMENTS which opened up the doors
to great environmental destruction.


Implicit in many of these comments is the concept of
"special places" vs. "sacrifice zones"

i.e., the people who live in densely populated areas get special protections (e.g. NYC Watershed)
along with a few "Trout Streams" and "exceptional value watersheds" (Delaware River Basin), etc.,
while people who live in other areas (Susquehanna River Basin), and people generally
in "Class 1" remote or rural areas
(generally poor, indigenous, with little political power) get fracked.

What I see is that NRDC, Earth Justice, Riverkeeper, Sierra and others in this class
DO NOT seem to  ever argue for a complete ban everywhere, due to the fact
that these activities
(fracking, etc) are inherently toxic.

Because maybe a ban would put them out of work?

Their bread-and-butter activity seems to be writing the "safe regulations" and arguing
for special protections for special places.

If you don't happen to live in a "special place" according to them... well sorry, you get fracked.

Since my watershed is already getting fracked,
you might imagine that I'm not fond of that kind of reasoning.

Bottom Line: Thank them for the good work that they sometimes do,
but NEVER take your eyes off these folks.

I don't know what it is, but Gang Green (inc. NRDC) seems to have a great tendency
towards making deals with the devils of industry.

Read every word they say,
and NEVER give them a free pass.


On Sat, Jun 28, 2014 at 8:10 PM, Chip Northrup <> wrote:
 The Kate sets the record straight on why the EPA's proposed power plant CO 2 emissions go easy on methane. Because power plant rules  per se don't address methane. . . they address power plants. Not for nothing is she The Kate.


May you, and all beings
be happy and free from suffering :)
-- ancient Buddhist Prayer (Metta)

May you, and all beings
be happy and free from suffering :)
-- ancient Buddhist Prayer (Metta)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Outrageous interview by Phelim McAleer on Colorado NPR

1: "Josh Fox misrepresented things in Gasland"

Yes, he used a graphic of a sample lease instead of his actual one. So?

2: "The flaming water was not from fracking"

Word Games: Since fracking is always preceded by drilling vertical wells,
it's hard to know or prove which activity caused the problem. But it is certain
that gas drilling activity caused the migration of explosive levels of methane
into Mike Markham's well, as well as thousands of other cases.

3: "The water in Dimock is fine."

It's hard for me to know how to respond to this.
There are dozens of families in Dimock who still have
water problems. Either on replacement water,
have expensive treatment systems, and a few coping
with water problems who have never received any help.

Also the focus on Dimock is a distraction. The problems
are not just in Dimock, but nearly everywhere Fracking
has occurred.

4: Fracking has never caused water contamination. Or gas drilling.
They are the same.

How can this guy keep repeating these lies?

May you, and all beings
be happy and free from suffering :)
-- ancient Buddhist Prayer (Metta)

Legislature won't rescind; protesters heckle Fagan

Odessa File: Legislature won't rescind; protesters heckle Fagan

LPG storage protesters march up Watkins Glen's Franklin Street from Seneca Harbor Park to the Schuyler County Courthouse.

Legislature won't rescind; protesters heckle Fagan

WATKINS GLEN, July 15 -- The Schuyler County Legislature Monday night turned back an effort to rescind its June 9th vote favoring the Crestwood LPG gas storage plan, and in the process triggered an angry response by protesters waiting outside the County Building. The crowd had gathered there after a rally of more than 300 people at Seneca Harbor Park and a march up Franklin Street.

The vote was 5-3, with Michael Lausell -- who introduced the rescindment measure -- Barb Halpin and Van Harp voting in favor. Chairman Dennis Fagan and Legislators Tom Gifford, Stewart Field, Phil Barnes and Jim Howell voted against it.

After the meeting, as the legislators were leaving, the crowd outside peppered Fagan with shouts of "Shame on You! Shame on You!" and "Fagan Must Go! Fagan Must Go!" as he made his way from the building to the parking lot and his car. According to witness accounts, he was first accosted by one angry man who was soon joined by a swarm of protesters -- one of whom grabbed Fagan's shirt sleeve. A couple of men with cooler heads interceded, and a deputy escorted the Chairman clear of the crowd. When he reached his car, a small group of protesters were still hurling epithets, and he turned to engage one man in a brief debate before saying, "I can sleep at night." He then entered his car and drove away.

Legislator Harp (pictured at right) -- who had voted in favor of the June resolution but this time voted for it to be rescinded -- also encountered some resistance. Witnesses said he was surrounded by three or four people in the lot, and that one shoved him before he shoved back and then broke clear. One observer, noting Harp's career as an FBI agent, said the protester's shove "wasn't very smart."

Legislator Gifford was accosted by one woman, but intercession by a local minister freed him to go to his car without further incident.

Where last month's meeting had attracted about 250 people, nearly 200 of whom were admitted to an alternate meeting site -- the second-floor courtroom in the County Building -- the meeting this time was held in the small, first-floor legislative chambers, which holds about 40 spectators at the maximum.

In those tight quarters, legislators heard a number of arguments in favor of rescinding the June resolution. Those comments, Lausell said later, prompted his proposal to rescind. After he made a motion along those lines, there was silence for several seconds before Harp seconded the motion. Harp later said he did so because he was impressed by the "excellent points this evening, articulated well," and because he thinks the county's emergency preparedness plan "needs to be vetted. I think we should hold on a little bit longer."

The Crestwood plan calls for the storage of Liquefied Petroleum Gas in salt caverns north of Watkins Glen, on the west side of Seneca Lake.

Halpin, who had opposed the June resolution, spoke in favor of rescinding it, and voted accordingly. But Howell (pictured at right), who opposed the June resolution, voted against rescinding it -- explaining later that he was "tired of the personal attacks from the Gas Free Seneca camp" against Fagan and other legislators."It's time to move forward," he said. "I hope the personal attacks will end, and that this will bring the community back together."

Several in the audience said it was obvious by the outpouring of support at the June meeting and at Monday's rally -- which featured speeches and songs in support of the natural beauty of the region and the perceived dangers of industrialization -- that the legislators were not heeding their constituents. Legislator Gifford said his constituents supported the June move, prompting one wag in the audience to ask which constituents he was referring to, considering he only received a couple of dozen votes in the last election, which he lost to Howell. Gifford remains on the Legislature this year in the final year of a term that predated the ongoing, phased-in redistricting process.

Speakers in support of rescinding included Gas Free Seneca co-founder Joseph Campbell, retired Methodist pastor Gary Judson -- who read part of a five-page list of demands prepared by the Concerned Citizens of Schuyler County (its entirety can be read by clicking here) -- and former Cayuga Medical Center CEO Rob Mackenzie (pictured below), who read a lengthy statement regarding his experiences in developing safety procedures. Those led Cayuga Medical Center to be ranked in 2010 by Consumer Reports, he said, as "the safest hospital -- large or small -- in New York State."

"In the case of LPG storage," he said, "it's no secret that significant safety concerns continue to be raised by many county residents and some outside experts. I am no expert in liquid propane, but I am an expert in the design and management of safety practices. I submit that your duty as legislators, in watching over the life and health of God's creatures in this county, is the same as that of the leaders ... at NASA, at Cayuga Medical Center and at Schuyler Hospital.

"As every one of those organizations -- and now GM -- has learned, it's not a question of balancing safety issues against economics, politics, car sales, or the country's need for fossil fuel or nuclear power. Somehow those other priorities just don't seem to matter after a disaster. Our highest duty is to listen to, support, and validate those who raise safety concerns, even if that costs time or money. Then, if -- God forbid -- a crash or explosion ever does occur and that liability suit is brought, sound safety practice is our best defense, individually and collectively

"I'm not suggesting a Cuomo-style moratorium for years and years. But last month I came here to respectfully request that you approve Mr. Lausell's timely resolution to work on safety before the horse is out of the barn. It's still not too late to do that. Please rescind Mr. Fagan's premature resolution until the ethical and safety concerns which have been legitimately raised can be calmly aired and equitably resolved to everyone's reasonable satisfaction."

He added later -- after Lausell (pictured at right) had mentioned, as an example of unexpected disasters, the Ithaca tragedy involving a tractor trailer carrying a load of cars that crashed into a restaurant, killing an employee inside -- that "there are failures that will happen" in the storage of LPG, "and of a magnitude potentially significantly greater" than the Ithaca accident.

But the legislative majority didn't seem to agree with his conclusion. After the vote, Hector resident Marie Fitzsimmons asked the legislators: "What would it take to convince you" of the rightness of the protesters' arguments?. She was told by Legislator Barnes: "You're talking to the wrong group. We have no say in the process. You need to go to Albany. The paperwork is on the governor's desk." (It is the contention of Fagan and others that the Department of Environmental Conservation has already given its blessing to the cavern plan, and that Governor Andrew Cuomo is holding an announcement until after the November elections for political purposes. Gas Free Seneca's Campbell has disputed that, saying DEC officials have informed him the process is still ongoing and that no determination has been made.)

Before the session ended, a woman aligned with the protesters invited Fagan and other legislators to meet with and speak to the group waiting outside. "They're a kind and friendly group," she said.


Other notes:

-- After the Legislature session and the heckling and shoving that followed, a speaker addressing the remaining protesters said that Barnes, running for re-election this fall, is unopposed, and that someone should enter the race against him. Several people in the crowd shouted out that he does have an opponent: former Legislature Chair Angeline Franzese (pictured at right) -- who was on hand and managed to turn the event into a stump speech. She was met with warmth and encouragement.

--The rally at Seneca Harbor Park featured an adult-led singing group of school children called New York Children Against Fracking. Part of their lyrics:

Don't store your gas in the old salt mine,
Crack our land on the old fault line,
Methane in our water and our local wine
Has such a bitter taste,
God what an awful waste.

Seneca Lake it is clear and clean,
The skies are blue and the hills are green,
Prettiest place that you've ever seen,
And we wanna keep it that way,
That's what the children say.

--Rally speeches included one by biologist, author and veteran protester Sandra Steingraber, who tested the audience by asking: "What would you do for this lake? We're the ones who have to make that decision inside our own hearts." And area resident Kate LaMoreaux (pictured at right) said the June resolution was "a serious mistake in leadership." She called on legislators "to truly represent your people."

--Michael Warren Thomas, a Rochester radio personality, told the rally audience -- and later the Legislature -- that Seneca Lake is attracting world-class winemakers like Paul Hobbs, who is developing a vineyard in the Burdett area, thus enhancing the region's reputation. "There are 60 million people within a day's drive of here," he said, adding: "Investors are coming ... but not if we industrialize Watkins Glen. It will take just one accident" related to the LPG storage to curb the growing momentum in the winery and tourism industry.

--Emcee at the rally was Margie Rodgers, one of the Seneca 12 arrested in a protest outside the Crestwood facility off Rt. 14 north of Watkins Glen in March of 2013.

Photos in text:

From top: Legislature Chair Dennis Fagan (white beard) engages a protester in debate before leaving; Legislators Van Harp and Jim Howell; retired Cayuga Medical Center CEO Rob Mackenzie; Legislator Michael Lausell addresses crowd after the meeting; Legislature candidate Angeline Franzese; and rally speaker Kate LaMoreaux.

Rally speaker, biologist and author Sandra Steingraber.

Paula Fitzsimmons prepares a sign at the rally.

Left: One of many signs at the rally. Right: Legislator Phil Barnes.

Members of the Hazlitt family at the rally. Tina Hazlitt, at the microphone, said the Legislature had "overlooked the fact that our economy is based on tourism and agriculture," and that the LPG storage plan risks "hundreds if not thousands of jobs" and "everything (the Hazlitts) have worked for since 1852. Save our lake."

May you, and all beings
be happy and free from suffering :)
-- ancient Buddhist Prayer (Metta)

Gastorino in Owego tonight!! 6pm! BE THERE!

6pm Hickories Park.
Exit 65. End of exit go straight.
Pavillion #5

Bring signs!

May you, and all beings
be happy and free from suffering :)
-- ancient Buddhist Prayer (Metta)

Saturday, July 12, 2014

!!!! MUST READ & SHARE: New Compendium on Risks and Harms of Fracking

This is really an amazing resource.
Please read and distribute.


PS: Any interested in making printed/bound copies of the Compendium?
If we can preorder 500-1000 copies,
we could get probably big unit discounts.

I'd be willing to look into printing
if I can get a sense of how many copies
local groups think they could distribute.

Could you imagine putting one on the desk of each NY legislator?!

Also, be sure to check out Environment America's fabulous
Shalefield Stories. Both of these together make a great case
for a BAN ON FRACKING at the state level, and also everywhere.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Sandra Steingraber 
Date: Sat, Jul 12, 2014 at 5:58 PM
Subject: New Compendium on Risks and Harms of Fracking, Including Climate Change
To: Sandra Steingraber <>

Dear friends,

I am pleased to announce the release a comprehensive new compilation – a compendium  – of the scientific, medical and media findings demonstrating risks and harms of fracking. 

Assembled by Concerned Health Professionals of New York, the document is systematically organized in a manner accessible to researchers, public officials, journalists and the public at large.

The compendium was released at a press conference in Albany on Thursday, and we hope it will serve an important role in the ongoing public and policy dialogue on fracking across the nation.

The compendium available on the home page of our website, (The direct download is here.)

Also at the press conference, we released a letter to New York State Health Commissioner Zucker, requesting a meeting with him to share the findings of the compendium and discuss the rationale for an enduring moratorium. You can find that letter here.

Here is a quick overview of the compendium's scope, organization, and contents:

Fully referenced with well over three hundred citations, the compendium covers fifteen compelling topics that emerged as we reviewed the data. It opens with sections on two of the most acute threats—air pollution and water contamination—moves on to climate change, and ends with medical and scientific calls for more study and transparency.

We encourage you to share the compendium, which is in the public domain and not copyrighted. You are free to distribute at will and print unlimited copies. While issues specific to New York State receive special mention, the compendium gathers data from across the United States. You do not need permission to reprint or translate, but we would appreciate knowing how the compendium is being used!

Three notable features:

First, the compendium is top-heavy with data from recent sources. That's because, as we discovered in our research, science is now beginning to catch up to the last decade's surge in unconventional oil and gas extraction.  As stated in the introduction:

 "A growing body of peer-reviewed studies, accident reports, and investigative articles is now confirming specific, quantifiable evidence of harm and has revealed fundamental problems with the drilling and fracking. Industry studies as well as independent analyses indicate inherent engineering problems including well casing and cement impairments that cannot be prevented."

Indeed, more than half of the peer-reviewed papers in the medical and scientific literature on the health impacts of fracking have been published in the last 18 months.

Second, the compendium not only compiles findings from the medical and scientific literature but also includes evidence from other credible sources, including government reports, investigative reportage by news organizations, and Form 10-K reports that gas and oil companies use to disclose risks of their operations to their investors. We chose this tack because institutional secrecy, federal exemptions from key provisions of environmental laws, gag orders, and non-disclosure agreements between industry and landowners make population-based environmental health science research, as traditionally practiced, extremely challenging.

Third, the compendium is interdisciplinary. With an appreciation for the many social determinants of health, we looked at crime statistics, traffic accident rates, stress, noise and light pollution, and changing economic indicators, as well as more conventional environmental health issues, such air pollution and drinking water contamination.  

And, of course, climate change is a health issue. Thus, fugitive methane emissions receive our extended attention. 

The compendium concludes:

"Earlier scientific predictions and anecdotal evidence are now bolstered by empirical data, confirming that the public health risks from unconventional gas and oil extraction are real, the range of adverse impacts significant, and the negative economic consequences considerable. Our examination of the peer-reviewed medical and public health literature uncovered no evidence that fracking can be practiced in a manner that does not threaten human health."

Given the quickly expanding body of evidence, the Compendium is designed to be a living document housed on the Concerned Health Professionals of New York website and will be updated approximately every six months. The studies cited in this first edition are current through June 30, 2014.

The executive summary of the compendium that outlines the fifteen subject areas of interest is reproduced below. We welcome your suggestions, feedback, and comments.

Kind regards,

Sandra Steingraber, PhD, on behalf of Concerned Health Professionals of New York

Distinguished Scholar in Residence

Department of Environmental Studies and Science

Ithaca College

Ithaca, New York


Executive Summary from the Compendium:

Evidence of risks, harms, and associated trends demonstrated by this Compendium:


·      Air pollution – Studies increasingly show that air pollution associated with drilling and fracking operations is a grave concern with a range of impacts. Researchers have documented dozens of air pollutants from drilling and fracking operations that pose serious health hazards. Areas with substantial drilling and fracking build-out show high levels of ozone, striking declines in air quality, and, in several cases, increased rates of health problems with known links to air pollution.

·      Water contamination – The emerging science has significantly strengthened the case that drilling and fracking inherently threaten groundwater. A range of studies from across the United States present strong evidence that groundwater contamination occurs and is more likely to occur close to drilling sites. Likewise, the number of well blowouts, spills and cases of surface water contamination has steadily grown. Meanwhile, the gas industry's use of "gag orders," non-disclosure agreements and settlements impede scientific study and stifle public awareness of the extent of these problems.  

·      Inherent engineering problems that worsen with time – Studies and emerging data consistently show that oil and gas wells routinely leak, allowing for the migration of natural gas and potentially other substances into groundwater and the atmosphere. Leakage from faulty wells is an issue that the industry has identified and for which it has no solution. For instance, Schlumberger, one of the world's largest companies specializing in fracking, published an article in its magazine in 2003 showing that about five percent of wells leak immediately, 50 percent leak after 15 years and 60 percent leak after 30 years. Data from Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) also confirm these initial leakage rates, with a six percent structural integrity failure rate observed for shale gas wells drilled in 2010, 7.1 percent observed for wells drilled in 2011, and 8.9 percent observed for wells drilled in 2012. Leaks pose serious risks including potential loss of life or property from explosions and the migration of gas or other chemicals into drinking water supplies. Leaks also allow methane to escape into the atmosphere, where it acts as a powerful greenhouse gas. There is no evidence to suggest that the problem of cement and well casing impairment is abating. Indeed, a 2014 analysis of more than 75,000 compliance reports for more than 41,000 wells in Pennsylvania found that newer wells have higher leakage rates and that unconventional shale gas wells leak more than conventional wells drilled within the same time period. Industry has no solution for rectifying the chronic problem of well casing leakage.

·      Radioactive releases – High levels of radiation documented in fracking wastewater raise special concerns in terms of impacts to groundwater and surface water. Studies have indicated that the Marcellus Shale is more radioactive than other shale formations. Measurements of radium in fracking wastewater in New York and Pennsylvania have been as high as 3,600 times the United States Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) limit for drinking water. One recent study found toxic levels of radiation in a Pennsylvania waterway even after fracking wastewater was disposed of through an industrial wastewater treatment plant. In addition, the disposal of radioactive drill cuttings is a concern. Unsafe levels of radon and its decay products in natural gas produced from the Marcellus Shale, known to have particularly high radon content, may also contaminate pipelines and compressor stations, as well as pose risks to end-users when allowed to travel into homes.

·      Occupational health and safety hazards – Fracking jobs are dangerous jobs. Occupational hazards include head injuries, traffic accidents, blunt trauma, burns, toxic chemical exposures, heat exhaustion, dehydration, and sleep deprivation. As a group, oil and gas industry workers have an on-the-job fatality rate seven times that of other industries. Exposure to silica dust, which is definitively linked to silicosis and lung cancer, was singled out by National Institutes for Occupational Safety and Health as a particular threat to workers in fracking operations where silica sand is used. At the same time, research shows that many gas field workers, despite these serious occupational hazards, are uninsured or underinsured and lack access to basic medical care.

·      Noise pollution, light pollution and stress – Drilling and fracking operations and ancillary infrastructure expose workers and nearby residents to continuous noise and light pollution that is sustained for periods lasting many months. Chronic exposure to light at night is linked to adverse health effects, including breast cancer. Sources of fracking-related noise pollution include blasting, drilling, flaring, generators, compressor stations and truck traffic. Exposure to environmental noise pollution is linked to cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment, and sleep disturbance. Workers and residents whose homes, schools and workplaces are in close proximity to well sites are at risk from these exposures as well as from related stressors.

       Earthquake and seismic activity – A growing body of evidence links fracking wastewater injection (disposal) wells to earthquakes of magnitudes as high as 5.7, in addition to "swarms" of minor earthquakes and fault slipping. In some cases, the fracking process itself has been linked to earthquakes and seismic activity, including instances in which gas corporations have acknowledged the connection. In New York, this issue is of particular concern to New York City's aqueduct-dependent drinking water supply and watershed infrastructure, as the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYC DEP) has warned repeatedly, but similar concerns apply to all drinking water resources. The question of what to do with wastewater remains a problem with no viable, safe solution.

·      Abandoned and active oil and natural gas wells (as pathways for gas and fluid migration) – Millions of abandoned and undocumented oil and gas wells exist across the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. All serve as potential pathways for pollution, heightening the risks of groundwater contamination and other problems when horizontal drilling and fracking operations intersect with pre-existing vertical channels leading through drinking water aquifers and to the atmosphere. Industry experts, consultants and government agencies including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. General Accounting Office (now the Government Accountability Office), Texas Department of Agriculture, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and the British Columbia Oil and Gas Commission have all warned about problems with abandoned wells due to the potential for pressurized fluids and gases to migrate through inactive and in some cases, active wells.

·      Flood risks – Massive land clearing and forest fragmentation that necessarily accompany well site preparation increase erosion and risks for catastrophic flooding, as do access roads, pipeline easements and other related infrastructure. In addition, in some cases, operators choose to site well pads on flood-prone areas in order to have easy access to water for fracking, to abide by setback requirements intended to keep well pads away from inhabited buildings, or to avoid productive agricultural areas. In turn, flooding increases the dangers of unconventional gas extraction, resulting in the contamination of soils and water supplies, the overflow or breaching of containment ponds, and the escape of chemicals and hazardous materials. In at least six of the past ten years, New York State has experienced serious flooding in parts of the state targeted for drilling and fracking. Some of these areas have been hit with "100-year floods" in five or more of the past ten years. Gas companies acknowledge threats posed by flooding, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has recommended drilling be prohibited from 100-year flood areas; however, accelerating rates of extreme weather events make existing flood maps obsolete, making this approach insufficiently protective.

·      Threats to agriculture and soil quality – Drilling and fracking pose risks to the agricultural industry. Studies and case reports from across the country have highlighted instances of deaths, neurological disorders, aborted pregnancies, and stillbirths in cattle and goats associated with livestock coming into contact with wastewater. Potential water and air contamination puts soil quality as well as livestock health at risk. Additionally, farmers have expressed concern that nearby fracking operations can hurt the perception of agricultural quality and nullify value-added organic certification.

·      Threats to the climate system – A range of studies have shown high levels of methane leaks from gas drilling and fracking operations, undermining the notion that natural gas is a climate solution or a transition fuel. Major studies have concluded that early work by the EPA greatly underestimated the impacts of methane and natural gas drilling on the climate. Drilling, fracking and expanded use of natural gas threaten not only to exacerbate climate change but also to stifle investments in, and expansion of, renewable energy.

·      Inaccurate jobs claims, increased crime rates, and threats to property value and mortgages – Experiences in various states and accompanying studies have shown that the oil and gas industry's promises for job creation from drilling for natural gas have been greatly exaggerated and that many of the jobs are short-lived and/or have gone to out-of-area workers. With the arrival of drilling and fracking operations, communities have experienced steep increases in rates of crime – including sexual assault, drunk driving, drug abuse, and violent victimization, all of which carry public health consequences. Social costs include strain on municipal services and road damage. Economic analyses have found that drilling and fracking operations threaten property values. Additionally, gas drilling and fracking pose an inherent conflict with mortgages and property insurance due to the hazardous materials used and the associated risks. 

·      Inflated estimates of oil and gas reserves and profitability – Industry estimates of oil and gas reserves and profitability of drilling have proven unreliable, casting serious doubts on the bright economic prospects the industry has painted for the public, media and investors. Increasingly, well production has been short-lived, which has led companies to reduce the value of their assets by billions of dollars.

·      Disclosure of serious risks to investors – Oil and gas companies are required to disclose risks to their investors in an annual Form 10-K. Those disclosures acknowledge the inherent dangers posed by gas drilling and fracking operations, including leaks, spills, explosions, blowouts, environmental damage, property damage, injury and death. Adequate protections have not kept pace with these documented dangers and inherent risks.

       Medical and scientific calls for more study and more transparency – With increasing urgency, groups of medical professionals and scientists are issuing calls for comprehensive, long-term study of the full range of the potential health and ecosystem effects of drilling and fracking. These appeals underscore the accumulating evidence of harm, point to the major knowledge gaps that remain, and denounce the atmosphere of secrecy and intimidation that continues to impede the progress of scientific inquiry. Health professionals and scientists in the United States and around the world have urged tighter regulation of and in some cases, suspension of unconventional gas and oil extraction activities in order to limit, mitigate or eliminate its serious, adverse public health hazards.   



May you, and all beings
be happy and free from suffering :)
-- ancient Buddhist Prayer (Metta)

Friday, July 11, 2014

Mary Anne Grady Flores Sentenced to one year in prison for Drone Protest

This is a complete abuse of "orders of protection", where a law which was ostensibly created to protect PEOPLE, is being used to keep peaceful, non-violent protestors away from PLACES. -- BH

Drone Resister Sentenced to One Year in Prison
Base's Order of Protection Begs Judgement

On July 10, grandmother of three, Mary Anne Grady Flores was sentenced to one year in prison for being found guilty of violating an order of protection. A packed courtroom of over 100 supporters was stunned as she was led away, and vowed to continue the resistance.

These orders of protection, typically used in domestic violence situations or to protect a victim or witness to a crime, have been issued to people participating in nonviolent resistance actions at Hancock Air Base since late 2012. The base, near Syracuse NY, pilots unmanned Reaper drones over Afghanistan, and trains drone pilots, sensor operators and maintenance technicians. The orders had been issued to "protect" Colonel Earl Evans, Hancock's mission support commander, who wanted to keep protesters "out of his driveway."

Mary Anne began her sentencing statement with, "Your honor, a series of judicial perversions brings me here before you tonight." She concluded that the "final perversion is the reversal of who is the real victim here: the commander of a military base whose drones kill innocent people halfway around the world, or those innocent people themselves who are the real ones in need of protection from the terror of US drone attacks?"

The orders of protection are being challenged on many legal grounds.

Mary Anne had been issued a temporary order in 2012. The next year, she photographed a nonviolent witness at the base, not participating herself because she did not want to violate the order. The irony is that those who actually participated in the action were acquitted, while Mary Anne was charged with violating the order.

Even though the pre-sentencing report recommended no jail time, Judge Gideon sentenced Mary Anne to the maximum of a year in prison. As he imposed his sentence, the judge referred to his previous Hancock decision. He had stated then and insinuated now, "This has got to stop."

In addition, Mary Anne was fined $1000 plus a $205 court surcharge and a $50 fee to have her DNA collected.

Her verdict is being appealed.

For information on how to support Mary Anne, contact Ellen Grady at

NEW: Interview with Mary Anne, by Cris McConkey

Press Conference:

Sentencing Hearing:

Hancock 17 Trial (2/7/2014), Closing statement (playlist)


May you, and all beings
be happy and free from suffering :)
-- ancient Buddhist Prayer (Metta)