Public Hearing about Fracking at NYC Council held July 18, 2012
Conducted by Senator Tony Avella
This event lasted 5 hours. It is recorded in two videos available on the internet at these links:
There are several short commercials that briefly interrupt the speakers, but the program resumes quickly.
CLICK HERE for numerous documents and written testimonies submitted to Senator Avella at this hearing.
Following are the speakers on the FIRST VIDEO:
Senator Avella’s opening remarks included his stating that hydraulic fracturing for shale gas is the biggest environmental threat that the State has ever seen.
Beginning after introduction:
Thomas Cluderay, Environmental Working Group, talked about the recently discovered information that the Governor and Commissioner Martens have been speaking to the gas drilling companies about regulations – giving them a clear advantage.
0:27:00 James Northrup. Retired oil and gas manager from Texas.
How the NYS system structure does not protect the people because both the DEC and Minerals and Mining Dept. roles are to advocate for the industry. New York State has the worst regulations proposed for fracking in the USA – including, among others: the closest setbacks, no environmental oversite, DEC lets industry review proposed regulations but not environmental groups.
0:53:00 Ron Bishop. PhD WV University School of Medicine, Maryland.
Teaches chemistry and biochemistry at State University of NY, Oneonta. Studied about fracking in other countries including Poland, Croatia, Sweden and Nigeria, in addition to his studies NY State. Discussed many abandoned wells in NYS that are pathways for migration of toxic fluids. He said nowhere he has seen fracking is safe.
1:22:00 Janette Barth. PhD, Economist.
President of J.M. Barth & Associates, Inc., an economic research and consulting firm, and founder of Pepacton Institute LLC. Describes the economic burdens that communities would have to bear. False claims based on industry studies exaggerate benefits and ignore costs to communities. Extractive industries bring short term boom and long term bust.
1:29:00 Elisabeth Radow. Attorney, League of Woman Voters.
Discussed lack of/loss of insurance coverage and its impact on mortgages, which require insurance. HVHF is a risk based industry, given this truth, industry must back insurance for home owners of drilling sites. Otherwise, this could be a catalyst for another financial collapse
1:52:00 Larysa Dyrszka. MD.
Diplomat on the National Board of Medical Examiners and a Board-Certified Pediatrician. Human health not discussed in SGEIS in 2009 or in 2011. Feb 2011 a group of physicians sent a letter to NYS Commissioner of Health, asking health impact assessment for the SGEIS. Since 2009, no papers written by many doctors and no provisions for emerging research have been included in SGEIS. Martens’ advisory panel did not include scientists or health professionals but landowners and industry were invited. Government collaborated with industry and shut the door to science.
2:03:00 Sandra Steingraber. PHD biologist.
Distinguished Scholar in Residence for Environmental Studies at Ithaca College. 20 years work in environmental health. Points to how SGEIS denies that health impacts are relevant and includes information not substantiated or peer reviewed. SGEIS is swayed by industry, 1st document regarding health is by American Petroleum Association. SGEIS is not a scientific review.
2:09:00 Elaine Hill. PhD candidate at Cornell University.
Bringing first data: infant health impacts caused by natural gas development, based on her compilation of information from PA. CO and TX. Fracking takes place in close proximity to homes. Poor health at birth is indicative of lifetime negative health, and passes poor birth health through generations. Proximity to wells increases low birth rate by 25%. Health care cost for one child would be $51,000 during 1st yr in life. These costs are not taken into account.
Following are the speakers on the SECOND VIDEO:
0:1:40 Josh Fox. Filmmaker, Gasland.
Intro: The Sky is Pink, played excerpt from his new short film. This film, and Josh’ current work, investigates the relationship between government and the gas industry. This communication and collaboration between government and industry is outsizing citizens right now. Right now we are seeing a different type of contamination caused by fracking; it is not the water or the air, it is the contamination of our democracy.
0:19:07 Jeff Zimmerman. Environmental attorney.
Working for Damascus Citizens for Sustainability, NYH20 and Sane Energy Project. The key issue here is radon in natural gas which the DEC does not discuss. The level of radon in Marcellus Shale gas is the highest in the US. Radon in gas is carcinogenic; it would travel to NYC. It will maintain a highly dangerous level of radioactivity. Industry has not provided any information to the DEC or NYC Council. This issue has not been examined.
0:26:00 Marianne Sullivan. Member of Committee of Energy, Agriculture and Environment for the League of Women Voters.
DEC provided the exclusive opportunity to the industry to examine regulations. The industry attorney, Tom West, appealed again to not regulate the runoff of radionuclides, including uranium, which are physically and chemically bound, and can be in flowback. Uranium is a toxic deadly metal. The League asked DEC to examine uranium issues, and has not received a response.
0:35:00 Ellen Weininger.
Mother, Educational outreach coordinator for Grass Roots non-profit organization who has special emphasis on environmental contamination on children. Grass Roots has health studies since the SGEIS and one about to be published which were presented to Governor July 16, 2012. A digest was submitted to Mr.Segos, Assistant Secretary of Environment Segos, who agreed to a 1 hr meeting soon. July 17 we received an health advisory warning that ground level ozone produced by industrial use was higher than safe levels – (in regions close to the PA drilling). Why is the connection not being made?!
0:39:00 Bruce Fergusson. Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy.
Our state legislature has failed to pass any legislation that protects the public, unlike what the treatment the industry received. What does it say about our democracy that industry lobbists can write a law and get it passed in 3 weeks, but 4 years of urgent appeals by tens of thousands of New Yorkers have not produced a single piece of legislation in the public interest.
0:47:00 Kathleen Nolan. MD.
Board-Certified pediatrician, MD Yale Medical School, Independent bioethicist, published numerous articles in peer-reviewed publications, served as reviewer and editor for scientific and bioethical publications. Is fracking safe? Available literature and documented experience of drilling in other countries and states shows that risks are unavoidable. It is a moral imperative to conduct studies – even if it means avoiding fracking.
0:58:00 Brendan Woodruff.
The Hydrofracking Campaign Organizer for the NY Public Interest Research Group (NYPRIG), a student nonpartisan research and advocacy organization for environmental preservation, consumer protection, government accountability.
Because NYS government is giving industry unequal access to industry leads us to lose confidence in the agency’s ability to independently and competently review and mitigate all of the negative impacts of fracking as is required by SEQRA.
1:00:00 David Braun. President of United for Action.
Cozy relationship between government and industry. We have seen, time and time again, that the science does not support this technology. Information shared through out this 4 year process. The problem is that the voice of science is not being heard, signed by 269 doctors, scientists. United for Action noted 5,000 people called Cuomo in early May to ban fracking, followed by over 200.000 petitions from 200,000 to ban. Scientists and people not being heard.
1:08:00 John Armstrong. Speaking on behalf of Frack Action.
Residents from LI and Niagra Falls, very concerned about the 5 county plan, these are just 5 doorways to permit drilling. Scandal of regulations with outrageous collusions between government and industry, so how many regulations were weaken? The DEC defends their position to insure regulations it would not overburden the industry. Is protecting the public health a burden for the DEC? The advisory panel should have reviewed medical reports calling for health impact studies, yet the DEC withheld these reports from the advisory panel or the public. They have been kept secret. Brad Field, Director of DEC Mineral Resources dismisses global warming and the impacts of carbon, greenhouses gasses, which is a complete dismissal of science.
The public can have no faith in the government, SGEIS.
1:14:00 Catherine Skopic. Chair of Environmental Task Force, Cathedral of St John the Divine.
Of the 9 planetary boundaries, 3 are near or at the tipping point: 1) climate change, 2) biodiversity, 3) the nitrogen cycle. These boundaries are necessary for life to continue. Water crisis is as significant as global warming. Not only are we loosing our water, land, air and health, we are loosing our democracy.
1:19:40 Rebecca Cass Stephens. Accountant.
Lives in Binghamton, Broome County. Cuomo said if villages and towns are “frack friendly” he can permit it there. A woman in Colesville NY was appalled to find out the next day, that a town meeting held a private vote to permit fracking. Nobody knew that this meeting was happening. Be wary of this information, voting is happening which excludes people in the communities.
1:21:20 Diane Pagen. Worked as Social Worker in Delaware County.
19,000 residents of 45,000 are close to or below the poverty line. Yet, children of this class have astounding environments to play in. and families can grow their own food and have clean water. If drilling occurs poor people will be stuck in these regions while the rich move out. The State would have to “remediate” a wrong that should not have happened in the first place. Social services, special education to remediate cognitive problems, Medicade to pay for respiratory and cancer problems. NY State will be hobbled by these costs. Don’t take away the only great wealth (the pristine environment) that the children have in these regions.
01:26:10 Jessica Roff. Volunteer on many grass roots.
United for Action, Food and Water Watch, and more. Emphasizes points that have been discussed, noting how it goes across other States, for example, Ohio, where people who are getting sicker daily. This is not a productive direction for NY State and the Country.
01:30:30 Danielle Gerard. President of Three Parks Independent Democrats.
1. DEC has its budget cut drastically, only 20 people overseeing 13,000 conventional wells.
2. State has no plans to deal with an emergency, least of all poisoned drinking water.
3. No requirement by the State that industry has the experience, finances, insurance, or equipment in dealing with an emergency
4. Fracking does not make economic sense, benefits wipe out any profits: taxes and fees to support filtration systems and remedial measures.
No way is fracking safe.
Fracking is a slap in the face of Nature. Could the trauma caused by fracking impact the nuclear plant upstate?