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CCE PRESS CENTER

PRESS RELEASE

For immediate release:
Monday, April 11, 2011
For more information contact:
Sarah Eckel, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, 315-472-1339, 202-486-9007 (mobile), seckel@citizenscampaign.org
Erica Ringwald, Environmental Advocates of New York, 518-210-9903, eringwald@eany.org
Nadia Steinzor, EARTHWORKS, (315) 677-4111, nsteinzor@earthworksaction.org
Tina Posterli, Riverkeeper, (516) 526-9371, tposterli@riverkeeper.org
Larysa Dyrszka, MD, Sullivan Area Citizens for Responsible Energy Development & Damascus Citizens for Sustainability, (201) 615-9889,, Lar917dy@gmail.com
Wes Gillingham, Catskill Mountainkeeper, (845) 901-1029, wes@catskillmountainkeeper.org
Eric Weltman, Food & Water Watch, (718) 943-9085, eweltman@fwwatch.org
Roger Downs, Sierra Club, (518) 426-9144, roger.downs@sierraclub.org

HUNDREDS RALLY IN ALBANY TO PROTECT NEW YORK'S WATER & COMMUNITIES FROM FRACKING

Groups Launch "Water Rangers" Campaign, Call on New Yorkers to Keep Water Safe

ALBANY, NY (04/11/2011))-- A broad coalition of organizations descended on the New York State Capitol today to call on state leaders and elected officials to safeguard vital water resources, public health, and the environment from dirty gas drilling by means of hydraulic fracturing or "fracking." The groups were joined by hundreds of New Yorkers who traveled to Albany from across the state to meet with members of the State Legislature and voice concerns about this controversial drilling practice, which has poisoned water supplies in other parts of the country. Josh Fox, director of the Academy Award-nominated documentary film about fracking dangers, GASLAND, ecologist, author and cancer survivor Sandra Steingraber, Ph.D., and artist Marc Black spoke at the rally. Senators Tony Avella and Liz Krueger, and Assembly members Steve Englebright, Brian Kavanagh, and Barbara Lifton, also spoke. Natalie Brant from Buffalo, NY, and Craig and Julie Sautner of Dimock, PA, shared first-hand experiences with dirty drilling and fracking.

"New York State leaders have a chance to show the nation how to protect our water from fracking-by choosing safe and healthy drinking water over poisoned wells, destroyed property values, and devastated communities," said Kate Hudson, Riverkeeper Watershed Program Director. "The oil and gas industry is eager to drill and now our leaders have a choice to make. We're calling on Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature to put the long-term health of our communities and our water, air, and land ahead of short-term gas profits."

The organizations present, which represent a wide range of community, environmental, public health, conservation, sportsmen, and good government interests from across the state, are calling on Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature not to rush the Department of Environmental Conservation's environmental review and the agency's revised guidelines to determine how fracking proceeds in New York. The groups want to ensure the agency has the time and resources necessary to correct the fatal flaws that plagued the initial draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement, and to ensure that the full measure of risks to public health and the environment are thoroughly investigated.

"Today, the public's demand for clean water-not dirty drilling, will be heard loud and clear," said Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director for Citizens Campaign for the Environment. "Citizens will rally for our new Governor to uphold his campaign promise to keep New York State's drinking water safe. This day of action provides us the opportunity to put our voices together and be heard above the enormous money interests of energy companies."

During visits with more than 180 state lawmakers and staff, rally attendees called for the passage of three measures that will do much to protect New York's water from fracking, including:

• (A.2922/S.425) legislation that would direct the Department of Environmental Conservation to create regulations requiring the gas industry to disclose the chemical components in fracking fluids and prohibit the use of fluids that pose a risk to human health. This bill would also direct the agency to withhold permitting until such regulations are adopted.

• (A.3245/S.3472) Legislation that would govern industrial gas drilling under home-rule zoning rules in addition to statewide regulations. Communities that want a say in determining how towns and cities develop should have the power to oversee drilling as they do other industries.

• Legislation that would close the hazardous waste loophole in current state law and require that all wastes produced by oil or gas facilities that meet the definition of hazardous be considered hazardous for the purpose of transport and treatment. This bill has not yet been introduced.

"Governor Cuomo and our legislators must act to stop fracking's devastating impacts on our drinking water," said Eric Weltman, Senior Organizer for Food & Water Watch, a national consumer advocacy group, which is calling for a national and state ban on fracking. "The effects fracking can have on public health and the environment are just too costly for New York to bear," added Weltman.

"Nationwide, a wave of gas development has left severe damage in its wake," said Nadia Steinzor, Marcellus Regional Organizer for EARTHWORKS. "New York is currently unprepared to regulate and hold industry accountable, and policymakers must prioritize protection of communities and the environment when deciding how to proceed."

Early in his tenure, Governor Andrew Cuomo extended an Executive Order that put a temporary timeout on horizontal wells for fracking for natural gas through July 1, 2011. The Governor has said that "We should not pursue it unless and until we know that environmentally it is safe." The July expiration date for the order also marks the release of a revised draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement, which outlines permit conditions for gas wells that are already fracked.

The Executive Order made New York the first state to insist on protecting the health and safety of its citizens and drinking water before allowing drilling to proceed. Last year, the State Legislature overwhelmingly passed stronger bipartisan legislation outlining a moratorium on both horizontal and vertical wells.

Many of the rally organizers are also sponsors of a media campaign, the "New York Water Rangers," which includes a digital billboard above the Times Union Center, radio spots, and online and print advertisements, all set to air for the first time today. The ads invite viewers and readers to join the Water Rangers and step up to protect New York's most valuable resource, our water, from fracking. Ads are available at www.CleanWaterNotDirtyDrilling.org

"Everybody is a body of water and that's why homegrown super heroes like the New York Water Rangers are standing up to protect our water and communities from documented fracking dangers," said Robert Moore, Executive Director, Environmental Advocates of New York.

The New York Water Rangers advertising campaign will run through the end of the Legislative Session. Coalition partners say they are prepared to continue the campaign for a longer period of time if the session does not end as scheduled in June.

To frack a gas well, millions of gallons of water, sand, and toxic chemicals are pumped deep underground at high pressure. This fractures the rock that has trapped the gas for millennia and allows it to escape. But when fracking wastewater is pumped back to the surface, sometimes bringing with it radiation hundreds of times the limit considered safe for drinking water, it's difficult to dispose of safely and there are no facilities in New York ready to treat it.

From start to finish, gas development that relies on fracking is an industrial process that threatens our water. State after state, from Wyoming to Pennsylvania, has documented its dangers. New York can't afford to put short-term gas profits ahead of the long-term health of our water and our communities.

 

Fracking Day of Action endorsing organizations include Adirondack Mountain Club, Advocates for Cherry Valley, Back to Democracy, Binghamton Regional Sustainability Coalition, Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy, Catskill Mountainkeeper, Citizen Action of New York, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Committee to Preserve the Finger Lakes, Concerned Citizens of Tioga County, Croton Watershed Clean Water Coalition, Damascus Citizens for Sustainability, Delaware Action Group, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Dryden Resource Awareness Coalition, EARTHWORKS Oil & Gas Accountability Project, Environmental Advocates of New York, Environment New York, Food & Water Watch, Frack Action, Friends of Vestal, Gas Drilling Awareness for Cortland County, Gray Panthers, NYC Network, Highland Concerned Citizens, Keep Cochecton Green, Keuka Citizens Against Hydrofracking, Landowners Against Natural-gas Drilling, Lumberland Concerned Citizens, NOFA-NY, New Paltz Climate Action Coalition, NYH20, Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation, New York Residents Against Drilling, New Yorkers for Sustainable Energy Solutions, Otisco Lake Preservation Association, Otsego County Conservation Association, People for a Healthy Environment, Riverkeeper, Schoharie Valley Watch, Shaleshock Action Alliance, ShaleshockCNY, Sierra Club - Atlantic Chapter, Sullivan Area Citizens for Responsible Energy Development (SACRED), Sustainable Otsego, Sustainable Tioga, Three Parks Independent Democrats, Tusten Concerned Citizens, and United for Action.

Advertising campaign underwriters include: Catskill Mountainkeeper, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Earthjustice, EARTHWORKS Oil & Gas Accountability Project, Environmental Advocates of New York, Hudson Riverkeeper, and Natural Resources Defense Council.




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Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE) empowers communities and advocates solutions for our shared environment and public health and is supported by over 80,000 members throughout New York State and Connecticut. www.citizenscampaign.org

updated by dglance  4/11/11