500 + New Yorkers Travel to State Capitol, Call on Gov & State Leaders to Delay Natural Gas Drilling Rush

New Yorkers Statewide Agree: State Leaders Must Put Drinking Water & Communities Ahead of Natural Gas Industry

ALBANY, NY (01/25/2010)(readMedia)-- On January 25th, more than 500 concerned New Yorkers from almost every corner of the state joined state and county legislators, environmental, conservation and community groups, and others, at a rally on the steps of the State Capitol to call attention to what is arguably the most pressing threat to the state's environment-particularly drinking water-the rush to drill for natural gas in Central New York, the Southern Tier and Catskills. While the speakers and organizations involved represented a wide range of opinions on what state leaders should do to protect New York's environment from natural gas drilling, all agree that the State must delay the rush to drill.

"This is an important day for New York," said Wes Gillingham program director of Catskill Mountainkeeper. "This is not just about the Catskills, New York City water or the Finger Lakes. This is about the future of our whole state. We can't let the gleam of potential profits leave us with a legacy of polluted water and industrialized landscapes. New Yorkers are demanding better protection for the places they love and where they raise their children."

Speakers included State Senator Tom Duane; Assembly members Barbara Lifton, Brian Kavanagh and James Brennan; Tompkins County Legislature Chair Martha Robertson; Chief Oren Lyons, Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan of the Onondaga Nation; current drill site Dimock, PA resident Joyce Stone; Walter Hang, President of Toxics Targeting; Al Appleton, Senior Fellow with the Regional Plan Association; and Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, among others. After the rally, New Yorkers met with lawmakers to voice their concerns.

The natural gas industry is eager to drill in New York. Drillers propose to use a dangerous technique, called hydraulic fracturing or "fracking," to extract gas buried beneath the rock of the Marcellus and Utica Shale formations, which underlie much of Central New York, the Southern Tier and Catskills, including the New York City watershed. In other parts of the country, fracking has poisoned wells and spilled toxic chemicals across landscapes.

"Ordinary New Yorkers who rely on state government to ensure that their drinking water is safe can't pay-to-play by writing big checks for campaign contributions and don't have hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend on lobbyists, so they come to Albany to have their voices heard," said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY. "Voters need to know that their elected officials put the interests of all New Yorkers ahead of those who stand to profit in a big way from a rush to resolution on natural gas exploration."

"The public is demanding time to provide legislative oversight, complete critical drinking water and liquid waste treatment plans, and ensure New Yorker's will not have to pay to clean up toxic hydro-fracking pollution from the Catskills to Allegheny," said Adrienne Esposito, CCE Executive Director.

"Natural gas has been trapped under New York for millions of years and it's not going anywhere," said Katherine Nadeau, Water & Natural Resources Program Associate, Environmental Advocates of New York. "Fracking is a high-polluting way to produce a somewhat cleaner-burning fuel. It takes a lot of industrial activity and a lot of water to produce relatively small amounts of gas and millions of gallons of wastewater laced with toxic chemicals. Before drilling gets the green light from state leaders, we must make sure that our water and communities are protected."

"The impacts of hydraulic fracturing in deep shale are being felt right next door to the Delaware River Watershed in Pennsylvania where permits are being cranked out at breakneck speed. The result has been spills, water pollution, fish kills, ruined roads and rural communities turned into industrial conditions. We can't let that happen here. New York is as unprepared as Pennsylvania for this onslaught of activity. Until protective regulations are in place to protect New York, the ban on shale gas permitting must continue," said Tracy Carluccio, deputy director of Delaware Riverkeeper Network.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is currently reviewing the more than 13,000 comments submitted on its draft natural gas drilling guidelines. The DEC's draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement has been called inadequate by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, New York City Department of Environmental Protection, and members of Congress, including Representatives Arcuri, Massa and Nadler, among others.

"We are proud to stand with New Yorkers who are championing the health of their air, land, water, and wildlife. The State needs to make sure these cherished resources, including cold-water brook trout and other sensitive species, are protected before natural gas drilling moves forward," said Emily Maxwell, Regional Director, National Wildlife Federation.

The rally marks the first time that New Yorkers have come to Albany to call on Governor David Paterson and other state leaders to protect New York's environment from the dangers of natural gas drilling. Participating organizations include Action Otsego, Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy, Catskill Mountainkeeper, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Common Cause/NY, Croton Watershed Clean Water Coalition, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Earthjustice, Environmental Advocates of New York, Gas Drilling Awareness for Cortland County, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Riverkeeper, Sierra Club-Atlantic Chapter.