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CCE PRESS CENTER

PRESS RELEASE

For immediate release:
Monday, August 15, 2011
For more information contact:
Sarah Eckel, Legislative & Policy Director, 518-339-2853 (mobile), seckel@citizenscampaign.org
Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director, 631-384-1378 (mobile), aesposito@citizenscampaign.org

BI-PARTISAN CALL FROM CCE AND ASSEMBLY & SENATE MEMBERS FOR A 180-DAY COMMENT PERIOD WITH PUBLIC HEARINGS FOR FRACKING GUIDELINES

Gov. Cuomo & DEC told 60 DAYS IS NOT ENOUGH!

(ALBANY, NY)— Senate Environmental Conservation Chair Mark Grisanti (R/C/IP-Buffalo), Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Robert K. Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst), Senator David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Orange), Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D/I/WF – Yonkers), Assemblyman George Latimer (D- Westchester), Assemblymember Sam Roberts (D-Syracuse), Assemblymember Robert Castelli (R/C- Golden Bridge) joined CCE and advocates concerned about the environmental impacts of dirty gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” by calling on Governor Cuomo and Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens today to hold no less than a 180-day comment period and statewide public hearings on the state’s proposed fracking guidelines, formally known as the revised Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Statement (SGEIS). Elected officials from Albany, Ithaca, New York City, and Rochester echoed these concerns.

“New York State would be foolish to rush into permitting hydraulic fracturing for natural gas,” said Assemblyman Robert K. Sweeney (D- Lindenhurst), Chair of the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee. “Technical experts and average New Yorkers need time to evaluate the state’s proposal and weigh in with the Department of Environmental Conservation to make sure that if drilling moves forward we are not compromising our communities, our environment or our long-term sustainability.”

Senate Environmental Conservation Chair Mark Grisanti (R/C/IP – Buffalo) commented "While I commend and approve of the hard work that Commissioner Martens and the staff of the Department of Environmental Conservation put into drafting the SGEIS, and I also can appreciate the dedication the members of the High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing Advisory Panel will bring to the table; I believe that we need to allow our public to have time to thoroughly review the SGEIS. It is for these reasons that I have already expressed my desire to both Commissioner Martens and members of the Advisory Panel that public hearings be conducted by the Department and that the time frame for comments from the public be extended on the SGEIS. I truly believe that the Department and the Advisory Panel will take these recommendations under serious condition. With such a major economic and environmental opportunity before us, it is imperative that we allow the public to be heard as we move forward with the recommendations of the SGEIS."

“The decision to hydro-frack in New York State is a decision that we will have to live with for generations to come,” Senator David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Orange) said. “It is imperative that New Yorkers have adequate time to review the lengthy report and submit informed comments. This is an issue that will affect all New Yorkers and their voices need to be heard.”

"Especially given the highly technical nature of the issue and all of the unknown factors with regard to chemicals and water safety, we must make sure that as much information as possible comes to light before the DEC makes a decision. Sixty days is just not enough time to fully vet this very dense draft proposal that could have a permanent impact on our State," said Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D/I/WF - Yonkers).

"The importance of resolving this issue correctly requires us to make every effort to ensure full public commentary. I support a 180 day comment period," said Assemblyman George Latimer (D-Westchester).

“Extending the public comment period from 60 to 180 days is not unreasonable given the nature and controversy surrounding this issue,” Assemblyman Sam Roberts said. “Hydrofracking has the potential to harm our environment and I believe it is important for the DEC to offer a substantial amount of time to get feedback from the public and our constituents. The safety of our residents is first and foremost and the issue can be properly addressed without rushing into decisions that could negatively affect our future.”

Assemblyman Robert J. Castelli (R/C - Goldens Bridge), a member of the Assembly’s Environmental Conservation Committee who represents the 89th Assembly District in Westchester County, said he supports the effort by Citizens Campaign for the Environment. “After meeting with concerned citizens and environmental advocacy groups, I am strongly in support of an extension to the public comment period on the dSGEIS report from sixty to one hundred eighty days,” he said.

“Additionally, as I believe all the evidence needs to be heard, I have supported and cosponsored legislation to extend the moratorium on hydrofracking until one hundred twenty days after the completion, release of the study and report from the Federal EPA on this same subject,” Castelli said.

"We should encourage and facilitate public input on public policy-especially on something as crucial as the survival of our drinking water," Said Assemblyman Tom Abinanti (D - Greenburgh).

“60 Days is simply not enough,” said Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director, Citizens Campaign for the Environment. “The state’s revised hydro-fracking review is more than 1,000 pages and the public deserves time to read and understand the impacts of dirty drilling on our air, land, water, and people. The first draft study generated over 15,000 public comments so we know that acute and sustained public interest exists.”

“There is no rush to drill. Governor Cuomo & Commissioner Martens should respond to public outcry and extend the public comment period to 180 days,” said Sarah Eckel, Legislative & Policy Director, Citizens Campaign for the Environment. “The state should understand that the public needs and wants to understand this highly technical process that will significantly impact every New Yorker.”

Today over 70 groups released a letter to the Governor and Commissioner Martens calling for the 180-day comment period along with public hearings in at least the same four areas where the DEC held hearings on the 2009 draft fracking document—Binghamton, Sullivan County, New York City and Delaware County. The letter also called on state leaders to hold hearings in as many of the communities likely to be affected by fracking as possible, including but not limited to, cities and towns in Western New York and the Hudson Valley. Many New Yorkers in these areas did not have the opportunity to attend a public hearing in 2009.

The DEC’s preliminary revised draft fracking assessment was released in July. The complete revised draft is expected to be released for public comment and review in late summer or early fall.

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. 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.

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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 seckel  8/15/11