Last Chance to Weigh in on NY Regs on Fracking

The public has until Wednesday to comment on a plan to open up 85 percent of the state of New York to the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing or "fracking." In 2010, a moratorium on this form of "natural" gas and oil extraction in the state was put in place, but a plan to lift it, advanced by Governor Andrew Cuomo, could change this.

The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has received over 18,000 comments on its recommendations for fracking. Comments of those opposed to the practice appear to outnumber supporters by at least a 10-to-1 margin. After the comments are considered, the department is expected to produce a final impact statement and regulations. Additional funds to regulate fracking, if the moratorium is lifted, are not expected to be included in the governor's budget to be released mid-January.

New York's Water Supply in Jeopardy

The plan would exclude drilling on the surface of the watersheds of New York City and Syracuse, but these watersheds could still be accessed -- and potentially contaminated -- from underground through the horizontal drilling technique used in fracking. The plan also does not address disposal of the chemical-laden and often radioactive wastewater of fracking, nor does it protect the infrastructure used to transport water to 9 million people in New York City.

In a letter written to a local newspaper, a former technician tasked with managing groundwater contamination for the DEC said that based on his experience, fracking would undoubtedly compromise New York’s water supply.

"Let me be clear: hydraulic fracturing as it's practiced today will contaminate our aquifers," he said. "Not might contaminate our aquifers. Hydraulic fracturing will contaminate New York's aquifers. If you were looking for a way to poison the drinking water supply, here in the north-east you couldn't find a more chillingly effective and thorough method of doing so than with hydraulic fracturing."

A new report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency links fracking to water pollution for the first time (meanwhile citizens across the country have witnessed these links, as documented by Josh Fox in his documentary film "Gasland" and by others, such as Toxics Targeting). Additionally, the DEC's own environmental impact statement outlines the link, noting that there are a "significant number of contaminants" in fracking fluids which could seep into surface water or aquifers.

Industry Spends Big in New York

The gas industry has had its eye on New York since before the moratorium on certain new fracking activities and has been pushing to overturn the partial ban. The Marcellus Shale, which encompasses Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and New York, has seen a heavy boom in the amount of wells drilled in the past few years and an upsurge in opposition to fracking because of its effects on the natural environment and the health of neighbors to the drilling, processing, and transportation operations. New York is currently the only state on top of the Marcellus Shale with a moratorium on new injection wells.

Energy companies have spent millions in television advertising, lobbying, and campaign contributions to sway the state and its politicians, to open the floodgates for the industry to frack New York freely. According to the New York Times, the governor has received over $106,000 from the gas industry and its allies since 2010. So-called "Energy Citizens," a front group for the American Petroleum Institute, has sent hundreds of comments to the DEC in support of drilling by collecting names and addresses on its website. Those comments have been vastly outnumbered by the comments of people concerned about fracking.

'Water Ranger' Hits the Airwaves

New York constituents, with less financial backing than the billion dollar gas industry, have been working to ensure that the DEC hears their concerns about how fracking will affect their lives and the lives of future generations. Recent statewide hearings were flooded with constituents voicing concern about the looming decision on whether to re-open the state to massive fracking for methane gas.

The New York Water Rangers, a partnership of environmental and community groups, launched an ad this month to combat the pro-fracking messaging permeating local television markets. The ad depicts a man dressed as a superhero saying that he is fighting to "safeguard our water from industrial gas drilling" asking the governor to be the "hero we are looking for."

Public comments can be submitted online, here.


Call Thom Hartmann to explain this. He does such a good job of making people understand. We should get his explanations on public access and whereever possible on cable channels. People need clear explanations to appreciate the enormous downsides.

I am for trying hydrofracking in New York state. This is my reason why. The economy of New York state has deteriorated significantly. Our state lost the most population in the whole country in the past decade due to no jobs being available. Since our state has high taxes on businesses this resulted in companies leaving like Carrier in Syracuse. Buffalo lost most of it's manufacturing jobs and and car manufacturer's left the north country. In my hometown of Massena it is now a ghost town since General Motors and Reynold' s have left. Alcoa has laid off most of it's employees.It is sad since it used to be a thriving town. WE NEED JOBS! And hydroracking guarantees jobs with incomes starting at $70,000 a year. I understand the other side of concerns of contaminating the water. Why can't there be a compromise? Hydrofracking could occur far away from populated areas as possible. Most people don't drink tap water anymore- the bottling business is doing great! Of course cooking with tap water could be a concern as well as bathing/showering and brushing teeth. But are there studies that show the effects of this? If someone is that concerned they could use bottled water for cooking and brushing teeth. I think both sides should compromise because the bottom line is New York state needs jobs or we are going to lose even more people. If people do not have jobs they won't have money to spend at the lakes (ie. beaches, boating, camping, fishing, restaurants and wineries will all suffer.) This will only affect our bad economy more. I would hope that the people against hydrofracking would think about these ideas and be willing to compromise. Then New York state could become a great state to live in again.

Do me a favor: For the next few days, whenever you shower or brush your teeth imagine that the water your using is contaminated with many of the toxic chemicals used in the hydrofracking process. Imagine what those chemicals are doing to your body. Then go out and buy all the bottled water you and your family will need to get through the week for cooking, brushing teeth, washing hands, drinking, etc. Add up the costs and then multiply that expense by 10 or 20 or 50 years. When you look at the number, let me know if you still think people who are concerned about their drinking water should just go out and buy bottled water (you should also read some studies on the quality of bottled water) and deal with the expense of it all while the gas companies who polluted the water supply get to profit.

What Tim Reale said was perfect, but I felt the need to also mention the environmental effects. Just because we do it "far from any populated areas" and rely on bottled water doesn't mean there aren't negative effects. Doing it far from populated areas doesn't keep fracking from depleting natural aquifers. In addition, most recovered fracking fluids are never filtered back to pure water... instead, they're diluted down and put back into the streams and waterways. This means that over time, recovered fracking fluid will make it's way through the waterways back to a populated area, where it will enter the public water supply in trace amounts. If it does go all the way to the ocean, it stops there, which means continued fracking will have a long term effect on that ecosystem. In addition to these direct effects of fracking, relying on bottled water is a ridiculous solution. Do a quick search for "bottled water environmental effects". It's also worth pointing out that most bottled water is really just partly filtered water bottled close to the point where it is sold. This means you aren't avoiding the problem at all.

Let's get this STRAIGHT ONCE AND FOR ALL. STOP buying into the BS that we have to destroy the environment for the benefit of the fossible fuel industries PROFITS!!!! We can (AND SHOULD) be creating MILLONS of jobs that do not involve harming the environment for the profit of fossil fuel companies. Here are just a FEW (there are others) of the ways we can (and SHOULD) be creating MILLIONS of jobs: JOB CREATION AND HOW WE CAN PUT AMERICA BACK TO WORK 1) Study by the Institute for Health & Socio-Economic Policy (IHSP): Medicare for All (Single Payer) Reform Would Be Major Stimulus for Economy with 2.6 Million New Jobs, $317 Billion in Business Revenue, $100 Billion in Wages. The number of jobs created by a single payer system, expanding and upgrading Medicare to cover everyone, parallels almost exactly the total job loss in 2008, according to the findings of a groundbreaking study. 2)Green-collar enthusiasts aren't stopping there -- they are also calling on the federal government to help ignite change. Investing $100 billion in green technologies and industries "would create four times more jobs than spending the same amount of money within the oil industry, and would reduce the unemployment rate to 4.4 percent over two years," according to a study released in September by the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst under commission by the Center for American Progress. The study presented at the EESI briefing, entitled "Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency: Economic Drivers for the 21st Century," was commissioned by the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) as a follow-up to its earlier "Tackling Climate Change" report in order to provide a detailed look at the economic development side of addressing global warming. Presenting the results of the report, lead investigator Roger Bedzak, president of Management Information Services, Inc., said that over 446,000 people were directly and indirectly employed by the renewable industry in 2006. Within the renewable energy sector, 16,000 were directly employed by the wind industry, with a total of 36,800 jobs supported (directly and indirectly) by the wind industry in 2006. The report also looks at possible job growth under both moderate and advanced industry growth scenarios. Under the "business as usual" base-case scenario, which assumes no major policy reform to encourage renewables or efficiency, renewables jobs nevertheless increase to over 1.3 million by 2030. Meanwhile, by 2030 over 3 million are created under the moderate growth scenario, and nearly 8 million jobs are created under the advanced growth scenario. The wind industry would support approximately 250,000 jobs in 2030 in the moderate growth scenario and 1.2 million jobs in the advanced scenario. "The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that the USA needs to spend $1.6 trillion over five years to put its infrastructure — which includes some 590,000 bridges — in good condition." 3) Snapshot for September 3, 2008. Our failing grade on maintaining school facilities by Ethan Pollack (Economic Policy Institute) Back to school season is always a nervous time for parents, but there is one thing they shouldn't have to worry about: the condition of the school buildings themselves. Unfortunately, school infrastructure spending, after being adjusted for increased construction costs, has decreased dramatically since 2001. While student enrollment has increased 3% since 2001, adjusted spending on school maintenance and construction has dropped by 42%, from $34.9 billion in 2001 to $20.3 billion in 2007. In fact, the American Society of Civil Engineers recently graded U.S. schools a "D." Inadequate facilities can have a negative effect on academic achievement and student health. According to a Department of Education survey, 43% of schools indicated that the condition of their permanent facilities "interferes with the delivery of instruction," with heating and air conditioning being the most common complaint. Furthermore, both the Department of Education and the Environmental Protection Agency have found that "poor environments in schools due primarily to effects of indoor pollutants adversely influence the health, performance, and attendance of students." 4) Bernie Sanders:on a National Affordable Housing Trust Fund: Not only would a National Affordable Housing Trust Fund help solve the affordable housing crisis in the United States, it would also generate 1.8 million decent paying new jobs and nearly $50 billion in wages according to a recent study by the Center for Community Change. As today’s economy continues to sputter with layoffs over 600% from last year, and as millions of Americans are paying 40 to 50% of their limited incomes on housing, the creation of a National Affordable Housing Trust is needed now more than ever. 5) Subject: Clean Energy Gets President Obama's Attention and Public's Support Date: 6/18/2010 5:43:25 PM Eastern Daylight Time EPA and Other Analyses Look at Economic Impacts of the American Power Act This week, the Environmental Protection Agency released an analysis of the American Power Act, authored by Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., that looked at its impact on consumers and found that the bill will reduce consumers' energy bills through 2030, due to improved energy efficiency from a price on carbon. The EPA analysis also found that the American Power Act would keep overall household costs to a minimum for the life of the bill-between $79 and $146 per year. You can read the analysis on the EPA website. Another analysis released this week by the ClimateWorks Foundation found that average employment levels under the American Power Act will be 440,000 higher between 2012 and 2020 than under a business-as-usual scenario, and 540,000 higher between 2012 and 2030. The ClimateWorks study also looked at consumer impacts and found that the American Power Act will save consumers $35 on their annual household utility bills through 2020. A National Research Council study found renewable sources could supply 10 percent of the country’s energy by 2020 with existing technology. If we could make 25 percent of our electricity needs with renewable energy by 2025, then up to 850,000 jobs could be created. 6) UT analysis advocates linking climate, bioenergy policies By Margot Emery, University of Tennessee Nov. 11, 2010 2:03pm What is in this article?: • UT analysis advocates linking climate, bioenergy policies • Standard to be met by 2025 • The study, “Implications of Energy and Carbon Policies for Agriculture and Forestry Sectors,”found that a Renewable Electricity Standard could generate $14 billion in accumulated additional revenues for agriculture and forestry, increasing the demand for and production of dedicated energy crops for biomass feedstocks. • The study goes on to show that a Renewable Electricity Standard could create an additional $215 billion of additional economic activity, more than 700,000 jobs and $84 billion to the nation’s gross domestic product. Farmers, ranchers and forestland owners would stand to gain significant and widespread economic benefits if a properly constructed Renewable Electricity Standard is implemented on top of the Renewable Fuels Standard set by federal energy legislation in 2007. The findings come in a University of Tennessee Bio-based Energy Analysis Group study commissioned by 25x’25 and released at the National Association of Farm Broadcasting convention in Kansas City, Mo. The authors of the study, Burton C. English, Daniel G. De La Torre Ugarte, Chad Hellwinckel, Kimberly L. Jensen and Christopher D. Clark, are professors and Jamey Menard is a research associate in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of Tennessee. Co-author Tristram O. West is an ecosystem scientist at the Joint Global Change Research Institute in College Park, Md. The study, “Implications of Energy and Carbon Policies for Agriculture and Forestry Sectors,” found that a Renewable Electricity Standard could generate $14 billion in accumulated additional revenues for agriculture and forestry, increasing the demand for and production of dedicated energy crops for biomass feedstocks. And while that would cause shifts to move intensely managed pasture land, University of Tennessee researchers predict that forest residues, thinnings and tree harvest will play a significant role in meeting those feedstock demands. There would be no significant changes to commodity cropland use, or crop and livestock prices. Since both prices and production increase over time for beef, pork and poultry, gross returns will also increase. The study goes on to show that a Renewable Electricity Standard could create an additional $215 billion of additional economic activity, more than 700,000 jobs and $84 billion to the nation’s gross domestic product. 7) The Green Economy Is Growing, It's Inevitable by Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, Green For All on 08.23.11 BUSINESS & POLITICS Since 2008, these two things haven't changed: the world is getting warmer and millions of Americans are out of work. They're not going away any time soon. Green For All was founded on the idea that those two problems could be relieved with a common solution, green jobs. We've seen that this can work; renewable energy businesses are among the fastest growing in the American economy. We've also learned that the green economy holds much more promise than just renewables. The scope of jobs that improve our environment runs from factory workers building high-efficiency vehicles to entrepreneurs selling organic skincare products to businesses that turn a profit recycling waste from shredded automobiles. In July, the Brookings Institution released a report detailing the extent of the green economy. Some 2.7 million Americans work at green jobs - more than work in the fossil fuel industry. The US Conference of Mayors estimates that number will almost triple by 2040. And green jobs are quality jobs. Median wages are 13 percent higher than the median - and they're available to more Americans who have a high school degree. Investment in clean energy projects yields more than three times as many jobs as investing in fossil fuels. Even so, there is a lot of room for growth. Back in 2008, we argued that the green economy held great promise - and could grow to scale if Congress acted boldly. Had Congress passed comprehensive climate legislation, for example, or if they'd enacted the HOME STAR program. Neither of which happened. If they had, millions more Americans would be at work right now. Just as millions more could be at work had the stimulus been larger. Just as millions could be put to work today by decisive government action. The only thing in more critical condition than our global environment is our political environment. Which is too bad. We've seen the positive impact that support from government can have at a local level - in Philadelphia and Portland, Oakland and Atlanta. Some projects haven't been as successful; others still have been runaway successes. This is how the American economy works. It's how the global economy works as well. Germany recently passed the United States to assume the number two position in global clean energy investment. In first place - by a mile - is China, where government investment is deliberate and robust. Clean energy is a growing market, but a confined one - and every sale made by overseas competitors is a job lost stateside. Some people are just fine with that. Few economic sectors in history have had an active segment of the population rooting for its failure. Fossil fuel companies, climate change deniers, those happy to see a stagnant economy until November 2012 - there are many for whom a robust, green economy is a threat. Many see those 2.7 million jobs and wish they didn't exist. Well, they do. And that number will grow. We wish it would grow faster: the faster it grows, the sooner we can stem the worst impacts of global warming and the sooner we get money into households that desperately need it. But that number will grow. We'll step over obstacles we encounter and roadblocks placed in front of us. It's inevitable. The green economy will grow. 8) EPI presents 11 effective policies for job creation and stronger economic growth In the weeks leading to President Obama’s job creation plan, the media turned to EPI to understand the severe troubles of the labor market and for ideas on how to save and create jobs in the near future. Last week, EPI released a Briefing Paper, Sustained high joblessness causes lasting damage to wages, benefits, income, and wealth, that explained why the pain of joblessness extends well beyond unemployed workers. It was covered by a wide range of news outlets, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, and in a column by nationally syndicated columnist Robert Samuelson. EPI also released the report Putting America back to work by Ross Eisenbrey, Lawrence Mishel, Josh Bivens and Andrew Fieldhouse, which outlined 11 policy proposals to create jobs. EPI Vice President Ross Eisenbrey discussed these job creation proposals on CNN and ABC News, as did Federal Budget Policy Analyst Andrew Fieldhouse in USA Today. While not exhaustive, the proposals illustrated the types and scale of policies needed to put a real dent in joblessness in the near term. Some of the proposals are: • Temporarily increase disposable income for low- and middle-income consumers by renewing the payroll tax cut or replacing it with a refundable tax rebate, to create roughly 1 million jobs. • Enact a direct job creation program to put up to 2.2 million people to work over the next two years repairing schools, rebuilding communities, improving national parks, and rehiring police officers, firefighters, and teachers. • Pass President Obama’s budget request for the Surface Transportation Act, increasing employment by an average of 117,000 jobs annually over the next three years, or 350,000 jobs total, with larger job gains in later years. • Enact a job creation tax credit for firms that add employees, increase hours, or raise wages for rank-and-file workers, which could create 2.4 million jobs over the next two years if designed properly.