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Again-- marriage equality didn't happen over night-- it took years and decades of grass-roots activism....
Well, it's all too apparent that banning fracking statewide across NYS is also going to take real effort..
We'll be out there again tomorrow (Tues.) for our weekly Rally to Ban Fracking-- join us if you can!...
Thanks tons to all who have been coming out to our weekly rally to ban fracking @ Saland's-- Rich Flaherty of Southern/Northern Dutchess News, Valerie Carlisle, Gail D'Alessio, Chris Knoeppel, Ed Kenny, Sue Holland, Peggy Hill, Jim Krivo, Fred & Susan Nagel, Steve Meddaugh, Jillian Egan-- let's double, triple our numbers!...(thx too to Cary Institute's Patti Zolnik and many of her students too!)...
[see: http://dutchessdemocracy.blogspot.com/2011/06/rally-every-tues-4-pm-to-ban-fracking.html ;
http://www.midhudsonnews.com/News/2011/May/17/antifrack_law-17May11.html (30+ came out 2x)]
We gather in front of Saland's office at 3 Neptune Road in Poughkeepsie (12603) first at 4 pm on Tuesdays-- then go in to speak with staff-- then stand 'til 6 pm with our large painted canvas banner at corner of Rt. 9 and Neptune Road (just a bit north of Red Lobster)...
[call Cuomo and state legislators-- 877-255-9417-- keep the pressure up folks....(won't happen if we give up!)]
Pass it on ...
p.s. Spread the news-- free screening at Rhinebeck Town Hall (80 E. Market St.) of Josh Fox's "Gasland" hosted by yours truly, Fred Nagel, Sue Holland, and Dutchess Peace Coalition Weds. July 27th at 6 pm!...[see http://www.GaslandtheMovie.com -- need your help w/letters to editor to publicize!]
[send 250 words now to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org!]
[Daily Freeman has always refused to print my letters to editor-- and Pok. Journal just ran my column]
[note-- again-- twice over last few months we've had 30+ folks come out to these on Tuesdays; join us!]
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Go pick up the current issue of Northern Dutchess News-- great article here on p. 5-- with picture too(!):
"Demonstrators Urge Saland to Extend Hydrofracking Moratorium"
by Rich Flaherty
POUGHKEEPSIE-- A group of a dozen people from across Dutchess County took part in a demonstration last Tuesday afternoon on Route 9 near the Town of Poughkeepsie office of State Senator Steve Saland, urging him to vote for a statewide ban on the process of hydrofracking in obtaining natural gas.
The group is calling on Saland and the rest of the Republican-controlled New York State Senate to return to session to vote for a statewide hydrofracking moratorium extension that was approved by the New York State Assembly on June 6.
A large portion of land in the Southern Tier of New York State contains Marcellus Shale and would be available for drilling under proposed rules. A 60-day public comment period begins in August.
The local group hold its demonstration near Saland's office at the intersection of Route 9 and Neptune Road in the Town of Poughkeepsie every Tuesday from 4 to 6 pm, next to the Red Lobster restaurant.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) ruled that hydrofracking is banned from the New York City and Syracuse watersheds. Opponents question that if the practice isn't safe enough in two watershed regions, why is it allowed in other parts of the state?
The DEC report prohibits hydrofracking from within 500 feet of an aquifer or other drinking water source in other portions of the state.
Hydrofracking is a process that sends water and chemicals underground, under high pressure, to force natural gas from below ground that is captured for storage for future use. The thorny issue involving the practice is that the chemicals are left underground, leaching through bedrock and soil, creating potential water pollution problems in the future.
"What people don't realize is that here in Dutchess County, there's frackable Utica Shale in Rhinebeck, in Red Hook, in Hyde Park, and Poughkeepsie," said Dutchess County Legislator Joel Tyner (D-Clinton/Rhinebeck).
Locally, Tyner was disappointed that a resolution he co-sponsored with James Doxsey (C-Town of Poughkeepsie), in the Dutchess County Legislature in June to ban fracking on county-owned land was tabled by the GOP majority.
"We're asking for the people of conscience and the activists of Dutchess County to not give up on this issue and to come out," said Tyner. "If we keep the pressure up, the Democrats and Republicans will make the right decision."
"It's a foolhardy practice," said Ed Kenny of Barrytown. "It's a waste of resources, money, time, and it's ruining politics. It's like a bad dream."
Peggy Hill of Poughkeepsie became acquainted with the fracking issue in late 2009 when she visited a friend just south of Binghamton, New York. "It's a real imminent danger there," said Hill. "They [residents] might lose the value of their land. The whole countryside would be changed."
She said in addition to drinking water quality, fracking impacts local roads with increased traffic, air quality is affected, and the landscape is altered with the activity. "There are too many downsides, not enough ups."
Hill said Governor Andrew Cuomo has divided the state over the fracking issue.
"Selling off upstate New York. We're not a serfdom for New York City. I hope he listens to us."
Fred Nagel of Rhinebeck said water resources are being compromised with hydrofracking.
"I don't think the government has done due diligence oin what fracking will do to our water supply," said Nagel. "It just seems impossible that a government wouldn't care, but there's so much money behind this from GE [General Electric] to Halliburton, to the big corporations, the investments. It seems to skew our government so that it really doesn't pay attention to something that could really foul up the Hudson Valley for all of us," added Nagel.
"[Governor] Andrew Cuomo has recently come out with a very fractured approach to this [fracking], where some places can't use fracking and some can," said Susan Nagel of Rhinebeck. "There has to be somebody with the power of the politics behind him, Saland and Cuomo, who takes a stand for what is actually right for the people they represent."
"When I saw the movie 'Gasland,' it really opened my eyes to what's going on with this fracking," said Chris Knoeppel of Hopewell Junction. "When I heard about the Halliburton loophole, where these companies don't have to disclose what chemicals they use for the fracking, this is common sense that this is wrong."
Gail D'Alessio of LaGrange has been participating in the anti-fracking demonstrations over the past few weeks. "I'm here to try to encourage our Governor to keep the moratorium alive on hydraulic fracturing, which I feel is so detrimental to our environment," said D'Alessio. "It scares me, it's so detrimental."
She said water resources need to be protected from hydrofracking. "I'd rather try to get something done before the fact, than undo something after the fact. There are chemicals that go into the ground that never come out, that infiltrate wells and water supplies, kill wildlife. Why are we doing this?"
"I was very disappointed the other day with the DEC's report," said Valerie Carlisle of LaGrange. "Because it does not make sense to me to say that it's [fracking] not going to be in one area; the New York City and Syracuse watershed, but can happen in the rest of the state. It's either safe or it's not safe."
Carlisle said it appears that outside influence may have impacted the DEC findings surrounding hydrofracking. "I personally don't think it's safe. I think that it's a political move to split up the state that way. It bothers me that politics and money are taking the place of what would be a healthy way of having energy in this country. I think we should be exploring solar and I think we should be exploring wind."
Tyner said a study by researchers at Duke University, published May 10 in the proceedings in the Natioinal Academy of Sciences, demonstrated that fracking contaminates the water where it is used. The study examined groundwater obtained from 68 wells above the Marcellus and Utica shale formations throughout Pennsylvania and New York.
Researchers found that the ground water in the areas near active fracking wells contained, on average, methane concentrations 17 times higher than wells located where fracking was not taking place. Some of the wells had methane concentrations well above the "immediate action" hazard level as defined by the U.S. Department of the Interior.
Tyner and others are urging New York State residents to call Governor Cuomo and state legislators on this issue at (877) 255-9417.
"It is totally ridiculous and unnecessary to jeopardize our drinking water by fracking," added Tyner.
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[again-- recently sent this to my 24 colleagues in our County Legislature here in Dutchess-- feel free to email 'em all now at email@example.com so that I'm not the only one signing letter to Cuomo on this;
and feel free to come speak up on this at 7 pm mtg. Mon. 8/8 of Co. Leg.: 6th floor of 22 Market St. in Poughkeepsie!]
Nine reasons to send strong message now to Cuomo and state legislators to ban fracking across NY:
Fact: Literally dozens of members of our state legislature continue to co-sponsor legislation to ban fracking across the state (not just in NYC and Syracuse watersheds)-- Assemblymembers Latimer, Colton, Rivera, Jaffee, Jacobs, Stevenson, Scarborough, Weisenberg, Kellner, Millman, Abinanti, Crespo, Brennan, Cymbrowitz, Gibson, and Glick, and state Senators Avella, Adams, Addabbo, Carlucci, Dilan, Duane, Espaillat, Hassell-Thompson, Huntley, Klein, Krueger, Kruger, Montgomery, Oppenheimer, Perkins, Rivera, Sampson, Serrano, Squadron, and Stavisky.
[ http://www.assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?bn=A7218 ; http://www.assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?bn=S4220 ]
Fact: Frackable Utica Shale is right here in Dutchess County-- in Rhinebeck, Red Hook, Hyde Park, and Poughkeepsie-- according to this map provided to us from Julia Walsh (firstname.lastname@example.org): http://www.chemungcounty.com/usr/ACNE/Utica%20Shale%20Fairway%20in%20NYS.jpg -- and yes, the gas industry does plan to frack the Utica Shale along with the Marcellus Shale:
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/s_724034.html (see http://www.FrackAction.com ).
Fact: "A NY1/YNN-Marist Poll released May 17, 2011 finds 41% of New York State adults questioned oppose hydrofracking, while 38% support it and 21% weren't sure."
[from "Poll Finds New Yorkers Divided on Fracking" (5/18/11)
Fact: "About 85 percent of Marcellus Shale in the Southern Tier - along with much of Sullivan - would be available for drilling under the proposed rules that are sure to elicit thousands of comments in a 60-day public comment period beginning in August. "A road map for the industrialization of the Catskills; the fact that the Delaware River isn't protected is outrageous," said Ramsay Adams, executive director of Catskill Mountainkeeper. "It's clear they haven't developed a plan to deal with wastewater and there's no cumulative impact study. We'll fight like hell to stop this." (July 1st Times Herald-Record)
Fact: NJ state legislature just voted recently to actually ban fracking all across the entire state.
[ http://www.truth-out.org/new-jersey-lawmakers-vote-ban-fracking/1309452696 ]
Fact: "A study by researchers at Duke University published May 10, 2011 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, demonstrates unequivocally that fracking does, in fact, contaminate the water in the area where is used. The study examined groundwater obtained from 68 wells above the Marcellus and Utica shale formations throughout Pennsylvania and New York. The researchers found that the groundwater in the areas near active fracking wells contained, on average, methane concentrations 17 times higher than wells located where fracking was not taking place. Moreover, some of these wells had methane concentrations well above the 'immedate action' hazard level as defined by the U.S. Department of the Interior."
[from "Duke University Study Connects Water Contamination to Fracking Natural Gas Wells" (5/10/11)
Fact: Fracking destroys property values and local economies beyond repair-- as proved by Walter Hang of http://www.ToxicsTargeting.com last month-- and gas/oil leases are generally not accepted by lenders such as Wells, First Place Bank, Provident Funding, GMAC, FNCB, Fidelity, FHA, First Liberty or Bank of America-- it's "difficult, if not impossible, to the meet the 'acceptable if commonly granted' rule."
[see: http://thecapitolpressroom.org/does-natural-gas-leasing-hurt-property-values/ ]
Fact: Apr. 7th letter from Walter Hang of http://www.ToxicsTargeting.com to DEC and EPA asked them both "to investigate potential environmental and public health impacts associated with approximately 20 million gallons of natural gas drilling wastewater accepted by the Auburn, Canandaigua and Cayuga Heights Publicly Owned Treatment Works-- Natural Gas Drilling Wastewater Discharged to Publicly Owned Treatment Works in New York's Finger Lakes Region":
Fact: "The New York-based Toxics Targeting went through the Department of Environmental Conservation's own database of hazardous substances spills over the past thirty years. They found 270 cases documenting fires, explosions, wastewater spills, well contamination and ecological damage related to gas drilling. Many of the cases remain unresolved. The findings are contrary to repeated government assurances that existing natural gas well regulations are sufficient to safeguard the environment and public health. The state is considering allowing for gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale watershed, the source of drinking water for 15 million people, including nine million New Yorkers."
[see: http://www.democracynow.org/2009/11/10/watchdog_new_york_state_regulation_of ]
[again-- put this on your calendars, all-- free screening of superb Josh Fox "Gasland" documentary on all this-- Thurs. July 21st 7 pm in Pawling at Lathrop Building Lakeside Park (formally YMCA) at Lakeside Drive & West Dover Road-- as part of Dutchess Watershed Awareness Month; see:
http://dutchesswam.com/film-screenings/ -- and http://www.DutchessWAM.com for much, much more!]
Fact: Earlier this year Buffalo City Council passed resolution against fracking of Utica Shale there.
[see: http://newyork.sierraclub.org/SA/Vol41/Chairsreport.htm ]
Fact: This March the Ulster Co. Leg. unanimously voted to ban hydrofracking on public lands there (sadly, GOP Co. Leg. majority here shot down Dem resolution for this at last Tues. Envir. Comm. mtg.);
Westchester, Tompkins, Sullivan, Cortland, Putnam, and Onondaga counties have all also passed anti-fracking resolutions-- along with Cities of Beacon and Pittsburgh.
[see: http://www.ulstercountyny.gov/legislative_press/031720111.pdf ; CitizensCampaign.org/hfrac ;
[see last month's Environmental Committee here: http://www.totalwebcasting.com/view/?id=dutchess ]
Fact: Dr. Richard Perez of SUNY-Albany has conclusively proven that ALL of NYS's energy needs could be met completely by solar energy alone-- by covering 0.75% of NY's surface with photovoltaics.
Fact: 22,000 jobs across NYS could be created with the bipartisan Bonacic/Cahill Solar Jobs Act of 2011 (for solar renewable energy credits, as in NJ, PA, MA-- all much more heavily incentivizing the purchase of solar for their state residents than New York does here); Germany has less sunlight than NYS but has solar panels all over, the Town of Babylon lends homeowners money for solar as well.
[recall-- sadly (tho ignored by local media), current GOP Dutchess Co. Leg. majority killed Dem resolution from yours truly to send message to Albany on this at last Tues.'s Envir. Comm. mtg.]
[see: http://votesolar.org/new-york-solar-jobs-act-of-2011/ ; http://www.NYSEIA.org/ ;
Fact: "14,000 living-wage green jobs are being created because of landmark Green Jobs Green NY legislation passed two years ago to green one million homes across NYS with energy-efficiency retrofits; 90% of NYS homeowners eligible for free energy audits. State-certified contractors perform free or low-cost energy audits for homeowners, looking for repairs and upgrades (air sealing, insulation, new boilers, etc.) that can pay for themselves through energy savings in an 8 - 10 year window.
The work is paid for by the Green New York fund, and homeowners pay the fund over time back out of a portion of their energy savings. They pocket the rest, plus get their homes repaired."
[from http://thinkprogress.org/green/2009/09/13/174424/green-jobs-green-new-york/ ]
Fact: Here in Dutchess County alone, homeowners & businesses could save $1 billion on energy costs over next decade on energy efficiency according to Sustainable Hudson Valley's David Dell.
[see: http://www.dutchessdemocracy.blogspot.com/2009/03/our-bright-idea-growin-brighter-and.html ; http://www.nyserda.org/GreenNY/ ; http://www.energyfinancesolutions.com/main/homeownersny ;
http://www.petitiononline.com/pacehere ; http://www.LIGreenHomes.com ; EnergizeBedford.org ]
[kudos again to Dan French for coming out for BAN on fracking-- see A.7218/S.4220: legislation to ban hydrofracking- co-sponsored by state Senators Tony Avella, Addabbo, Krueger, Montgomery, and Serrano-- and Assemblymembers William Colton, Michael Miller, Rivera, Jaffee, Jacobs, Stevenson, Brennan, Glick, Millman; see http://www.danfrenchexec.com/?p=1810 -- stronger than Molinaro on this]
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From: Walter Hang
Subject: Recent coverage of the revised draft SGEIS/activists confront Commissioner Martens in Binghamton/Auburn update
Date: Jul 6, 2011 8:33 PM
I write to provide a quick update. In less than a week, we have generated extensive press coverage of the fundamental unfairness of DEC's revised draft SGEIS and are beginning to hammer away at its massive shortcomings.
The revised draft SGEIS is dreadfully inadequate and provides less protection than PA requires for gas drilling wastewater discharged into publicly owned treatment works. That is shockingly unacceptable.
Bright and early this morning, dozens of activists gathered in Binghamton to confront DEC Commissioner Martens as he arrived to defend his incomplete proposal. We totally got the drop on the other side and had the venue to ourselves. We got to ask him questions, wave pithy, eloquent signs and loudly chant "Equal Protection for All New Yorkers" as he drove by.
Thanks to all our stalwart colleagues from Binghamton, Ithaca and around the Southern Tier, including NYRAD, Binghamton Environmental and Shaleshock. In particular, many thanks to Karen Glauber and Elaine Perkus, who worked long into the night to enable the event to happen. Our ability to gather intelligence, surmount logistical challenges and make the event a success with virtually zero advance notice is a testament to working wonderfully well together for nearly a year. It was another great day at the grassroots level in this fight. Bless you all.
See coverage at: http://www.toxicstargeting.com/news/2011-07-06/message-martens
See photos of activists and the Commissioner speeding away in his SUV at: http://www.toxicstargeting.com/MarcellusShale/photos/martens
Speaking of excellent grassroots victories, we recently learned that Auburn, NY has stopped accepting even a single drop of gas drilling wastewater. That is a landmark achievement that could set a critical precedent for the rest of New York.
This campaign is another example of coachable citizen activists working hard and well together to win important victories. With a modicum of assistance, they took full advantage of coverage in The New York Times and local outlets that Auburn was accepting more gas drilling wastewater than any other municipal plant in New York State. They generated additional press coverage, gathered more than 1,300 signatories to a coalition letter requesting that the practice be halted and built a formidable local coalition of supporters.
In short order, the Auburn Citizen editorialized in favor of a gas drilling wastewater moratorium, technical challenges were surmounted and nearly 200 citizens showed up for a major rally before a key City Council meeting.
The next day, the firm dumping 87% of the gas drilling wastewater into the plant called it quits. It was later revealed that all the other haulers had reportedly halted shipments due to regulatory shortcomings.
Tomorrow there will be a key vote. Get there if you can.
"On Thursday, July 7th at 4:30pm at City Hall, 24 South St., Auburn, NY, Auburn City Council is going to be voting on the following resolution:
C. Council Resolution #94 of 2011 prohibiting the City of Auburn from accepting natural gas drilling water at the Wastewater Treatment Plant."
Thank you Terry (email@example.com) and Beth Beer Cuddy and all your colleagues at the Cayuga Anti-fracking Alliance (CAFA) for your efforts. Thanks very much to everyone who showed up at the rally. That was a stellar day.
See the progression of this campaign:
See 6/18/11 at: http://auburnpub.com/news/opinion/blogs/24south/
In conclusion, we likely have three months to kill the revised draft SGEIS by sending it back to the drawing board. Otherwise, it could get adopted as a Final SGEIS and New York's de facto Marcellus Shale horizontal hydrofracturing moratorium could be lifted.
I implore you not to waste a moment of precious time or we might all regret it.
I hope to have an analysis for your review shortly.
Call Governor Cuomo ASAP at 518-474-8390.
Email the Governor at http://www.governor.ny.gov/contact/GovernorContactForm.php
A. Demand Equal Environmental Protection for All New Yorkers From Marcellus Shale Horizontal Hydrofracturing.
B. If Marcellus Shale Hydrofracturing cannot be done safely in New York City and Syracuse watersheds, state lands and over primary aquifers, it obviously cannot be done safely anywhere in New York.
C. Send the draft SGEIS back to the drawing board for yet another do-over.
Subscribe/Unsubscribe from the Mailing List:
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[recall: "Assembly passes fracking moratorium; future in Senate cloudy" by Jon Campbell (6/6/11)
http://polhudson.lohudblogs.com/2011/06/06/assembly-passes-fracking-moratorium-future-in-senate-cloudy/ ; http://www.assembly.state.ny.us/Press/20110606b/ ; sorry-- no excuse for Saland on this one!!!]
[...and-- if you haven't yet-- join 55 of us already at Facebook's Dutchess County Anti-Fracking Coalition-- here-- http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_208866809144367 -- pass it on...]
[.....and if you haven't joined 1100+ signed on to my http://www.PetitionOnline.com/NoDrill -- do so!...]
[note, again-- push for fracking über alles is coming largely from foreign-owned corporations, folks--
http://www.frackalert.org/index.asp?page=4&cat=&focus=9 (Ed Haffmans stated this Thurs. on WAMC);
[recall below-- Jim Doxsey sent us an email recently reminding us of how home rule here in NYS allows towns, cities, and villages to pass local legislation to ban fracking in local municipalities-- thx tons to Jim for passin' along to us update (see below) from http://www.CatskillMountainkeeper.org ]
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[again-- one more reason for one of y'all to step up to the plate to challenge our County Legislature's Majority Whip, GOP Co. Leg. Flesland, for re-election this fall (she supposedly "represents" Vassar, folks!)...as Hank Gross of MidHudsonNews.com quotes her at this link here (click on url below for full piece), Flesland told us all at the June 14th Co. Leg. Environmental Committee mtg. that "the State Legislature is on the brink of extending New York's fracking moratorium for another year, therefore, she moved to table the local measure" (as Hank reported)....but as we all know that hasn't happened yet;
res. text http://www.dutchessny.gov/CountyGov/Departments/Legislature/ResolutionsPDF/2011148.pdf ]
[not just Flesland; opponents needed for Rolison, Incoronato, Kelsey, Thomas-- come on folks!]
[note, too-- click on this link to see great June 14th anti-fracking testimoney from Gail D'Alessio, Valerie Carlisle, Jillian Guenther-- http://www.totalwebcasting.com/view/?id=dutchess -- more folks too there]
From http://www.midhudsonnews.com/News/2011/June/15/DCL_frackban_table-15Jun11.html ...
[note-- why was Hank Gross only one in local media to report this?!?...(for shame, Poughk. Journal!)]
Dutchess lawmakers table hydrofracking ban on county property
POUGHKEEPSIE - The Environment Committee of the Dutchess County Legislature held off on taking a vote to ban hydrofracking on county-owned land. The decision came after several residents spoke out against the process, saying it would contaminate water and lower property values.
Bill sponsor Joel Tyner said with the Utica Shale formation under much of Dutchess, mining would have an impact.
"There is frackable Utica Shale right here in Dutchess County, in Poughkeepsie, Hyde Park, Red Hook, Rhinebeck [and possibly] Wappinger; county-owned land including Quiet Cove and maybe even Bowdoin and a number of other places."
Recently, the Ulster County Legislature voted to ban hydrofracking on its county-owned land.
[re: below: sadly, front-page shameless pro-fracking Freeman articles recently ignored this, above too]
From http://thecapitolpressroom.org/does-natural-gas-leasing-hurt-property-values/ ...
Does Natural Gas Leasing Hurt Property Values?
Posted on May 23, 2011
QUESTION - Does natural gas leasing hurt property values?
ANSWER - There is some damning evidence that it does.
Walter Hang of Toxics Targeting joined us on the Capitol Pressroom last Friday 5/20 to discuss this issue. He spoke with several banking institutions about their rules surrounding lending money for both residential and commercial land investment, and the results are on his website.
Here are the highlights:
- "Gas/oil leases are generally NOT (emphasis in the original) accepted by lenders such as Wells, First Place Bank, Provident Funding, GMAC, FNCB, Fidelity, FHA, First Liberty or Bank of America. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to the meet the 'acceptable if commonly granted' rule."
- "Surface or sub surface rights within 200 feet of a residential structure would not be acceptable for conventional financing in the Secondary market."
- "NYS title insurance gas endorsements specifically void title insurance coverage if the premises are used for any commercial venture."
- "Lenders are responsible to warrant several items to the investor in the Secondary market that can not be done leaving lenders with significant liability."
- "Surface or sub surface rights within 300 feet of a residential structure OR within 300 feet of property boundary lines would not be acceptable for FHA [Federal Housing Administration] (Department of HUD [Housing and Urban Development]) financing."
On Monday I confirmed that Assemblymember Barbara Lifton was so concerned about how gas leasing might affect land values in Tompkins County, that she met with three members of the Governor's staff to bring them up to date: Jim Malatras, Tony Giardina and Tom Congdon. I still haven't had any confirmation from the Governor's office. I am also still waiting to hear what they intend to do about this issue.
According to Lifton, gas drillers - at one time - did let people bow out of their leases if they were looking to move and borrow money. But those days are over. Now that the industry is required to have leases on 60% of all land within a "spacing unit" it has been hesitant to allow land owners out of those leases.
Lifton will join me on The Capitol Pressroom tomorrow, Tuesday 5/24 from 11:06am - 11:18am to discuss this issue, as well as her conversation with members of the Cuomo administration.
SHOULD THE DEC'S SGEIS BE REOPENED TO INCLUDE LAND VALUES IN THE IMPACT STATEMENT?
Below is the letter that Walter Hang sent to the administration regarding this issue:
Letter to Governor Cuomo Regarding Natural Gas Leasing Impacts on Mortgage Lending
May 17, 2011
Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
The State Capitol
Albany, NY 12224
Dear Governor Cuomo:
As you will see from the information I am providing for your review, New York lenders are gravely concerned about natural gas leasing potentially reducing property values, threatening the "quiet enjoyment" of homes and preventing the granting of mortgage loans in our state.
That is why I write to request that you immediately expand the scope of the Marcellus Shale Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) to address gas leasing impacts on homeowners, real estate investors and financial institutions.
Given the wide-ranging economic implications of these mortgage lending concerns, this issue warrants your urgent, top priority attention. I believe it is imperative that all lending concerns be fully resolved by your administration's efforts to revise the draft SGEIS' fundamental shortcomings pursuant to Executive Order No. 41.
March 24, 2011 Memorandum: Gas and Oil Leases Impact on Residential Lending
This document is a detailed, self-explanatory memorandum circulated by a Vice President for Residential Mortgage Lending at the Tompkins County Trust Company headquartered in Ithaca, NY. It notes:
* "Gas/oil leases are generally NOT (emphasis in the original) accepted by lenders such as Wells, First Place Bank, Provident Funding, GMAC, FNCB, Fidelity, FHA, First Liberty or Bank of America. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to the meet the 'acceptable if commonly granted' rule."
* "Surface or sub surface rights within 200 feet of a residential structure would not be acceptable for conventional financing in the Secondary market."
* "NYS title insurance gas endorsements specifically void title insurance coverage if the premises are used for any commercial venture."
* "Lenders are responsible to warrant several items to the investor in the Secondary market that can not be done leaving lenders with significant liability."
* "Surface or sub surface rights within 300 feet of a residential structure OR within 300 feet of property boundary lines would not be acceptable for FHA [Federal Housing Administration] (Department of HUD [Housing and Urban Development]) financing."
These PowerPoint slides summarize a wide array of mortgage lending issues.
According to slide nine: Legal Issues
* "Executing a lease or easement may have the potential to restrict the property from being sold, building (emphasis added)"
According to slide 15: Residential Lending Issues
* "Secondary Market Requirement:
* Title insurance endorsements required to affirmatively insure the lender against damage or loss due to exercise of drilling rights
* NYS title insurance comprehensive endorsement contains the following restrictions that would likely void coverage if they exist:
* No structures over 35 feet tall on premises
* No storage of any material, machinery, equipment or supplies on premises
* Premises shall not be used for any commercial purposes
* All allowed in typical gas lease - coverage likely void (emphasis added)."
Natural gas leasing could have staggering implications for New York's lenders, homeowners and real estate investors given the potential scope of horizontal hydrofracturing in our state's Marcellus Shale formation. Current lending policies and practices can preclude existing/potential homeowners and property investors from purchasing or selling real estate with gas leases due to the inability to obtain mortgage loans. Even properties located near parcels with gas leases might not qualify for mortgage loans due to "secondary" market requirements.
Individuals who have signed gas leases very likely had no inkling of these onerous implications. There has been extensive discussion of the alleged economic benefits of gas drilling in New York. The banking documents I am providing raise profound concerns that gas leasing could impair the state's mortgage lending and real estate markets. Even Wall Street's securitization of bundled mortgage loans could be impacted.
Nearly 5,000 elected officials, business owners, farmers, civic and environmental groups, citizens, students and religious leaders are signatories to a coalition letter requesting that you require immediate public comment regarding expanding the scope of the SGEIS to include key concerns that were excluded from the scope of the proceeding when it began more than three years ago.
A total of 62 legislators, including Democrats and Republicans in the Assembly and State Senate, have similarly written you in that regard.
To date, you have not provided a favorable reply to these requests.
In the more than three years that shale gas horizontal hydrofracturing has been discussed in New York State, I had not seen a single word written about mortgage lending impacts until I read the documents I am providing for your review. That scenario underscores why you must require immediate public comment to identify all other issues that your administration should address as the draft SGEIS is revised pursuant to Executive Order No. 41. Please afford the public a comment period without further delay.
Thank you for your consideration. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions that I might be able to answer regarding my request.
Very truly yours,
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From http://www.recordonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20110701/NEWS/107010353 ...
'Fracking' ban omits river land, infuriating foes
Comment period comes next
By Steve Israel
Published: 2:00 AM - 07/01/11
ALBANY - The state's long awaited regulations for "fracking" would ban such drilling for natural gas in the New York City watershed - a tiny fraction of which is in Sullivan County - and in the Syracuse watershed...
About 85 percent of Marcellus Shale in the Southern Tier - along with much of Sullivan - would be available for drilling under the proposed rules that are sure to elicit thousands of comments in a 60-day public comment period beginning in August.
While the DEC touts the proposed environmental protections, one leading anti-drilling group slammed the summary.
"A road map for the industrialization of the Catskills; the fact that the Delaware River isn't protected is outrageous," said Ramsay Adams, executive director of Catskill Mountainkeeper. "It's clear they haven't developed a plan to deal with wastewater and there's no cumulative impact study. We'll fight like hell to stop this."
The proposed regulations, which will be given to Gov. Andrew Cuomo Friday, also would prohibit fracking within primary aquifers like reservoirs and lakes, and within 500 feet of their boundaries, according to a summary released Thursday by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
The Delaware River basin, which covers much of western Sullivan County - and sits on the gas-rich Marcellus Shale - is not included in the ban on the controversial horizontal drilling technique of hydraulic fracturing.
And while the state's proposed regulations would not allow that drilling on the surface of state-owned land, including parks, forests and wildlife management areas, fracking would apparently be permitted beneath the land.
No permits for drilling can be issued until those comments are reviewed and a final Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement is released. The final version of regulations will become state law, which would further extend the delay for drilling permits.
Other highlights of the summary include:
- No permits will be issued within 500 feet of a private water well.
- Drilling will not be allowed within 2,000 feet of a public well or reservoir until at least three years of experience elsewhere have been evaluated.
- Drilling must be consistent with local zoning.
- No permits will be issued within a 100-year flood plain.
- The DEC must approve plans for wastewater disposal.
- Drillers must disclose the ingredients of all fracking fluids - which contain toxic chemicals - to the DEC. The additives must be made public "subject to appropriate protections for proprietary information."
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[Conservative Co. Leg. Jim Doxsey sent us an email recently reminding us of how home rule here in NYS allows towns, cities, and villages to pass local legislation to ban fracking in local municipalities!]
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [for more on this see http://www.CatskillMountainkeeper.org !]
Sent: 6/25/2011 10:48:56 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time
Subj: Action Alert: Home Rule - A Community's Last Line of Defense Against Fracking
HOME RULE - A COMMUNITY'S LAST LINE OF DEFENSE AGAINST
Despite the passage in the New York State Assembly of three crucial pieces of legislation concerning natural gas extraction, the legislative session ended yesterday without New York State Senate approval.
The Assembly-approved bills include:
- The Moratorium Bill: would enact a one-year moratorium on gas drilling using hydrofracking
- The Hazardous Waste Bill: would close a loophole exploited by gas industries to avoid requirements for the disposal of hazardous waste
- The Home Rule Bill: would clarify the right of local communities to pass bans and ordinances in relation to drilling activities
While Senate Democrats demonstrated wide support for all three bills, the leadership of the Republican-controlled Senate did not let them come to the floor. If drilling were to begin in parts of New York State, vigorous federal and state regulation of its hazardous impacts would offer the most uniform and far-reaching protection for air, water and quality of life in communities. However, in the absence of what is likely to be insufficient regulation, Home Rule initiatives may be a community's last line of defense against fracking.
Throughout the Catskills and neighboring areas, more and more communities are exploring the use of bans and ordinances on the local level to safeguard aquifers and regulate zoning, hazardous waste, and road use in order to protect them from the highly destructive practice of hydrofracking.
The New York State Assembly Home Rule bill sought to end the confusion about whether local zoning ordinances are preempted by state law and regulation in relation to the oil, gas, and solution mining industries because municipalities within New York State may not regulate these industries. However, many communities have already started to pass bans and ordinances that would regulate land use and other matters involving public health, safety and welfare that fall outside of the State's regulatory program.
Join the Groundswell of Towns Who Are Already Taking Action
In the last couple of weeks many towns have adopted ordinances to ban hydrofracking. On June 14, 2011, the Town of Wales adopted a ban on the practice, and the Town of Ulysses is clarifying an already-existing ban, which exists under current town zoning on heavy industrial use. Two weeks ago, the Towns of Springfield and Middlefield in Otsego County followed the Town of Otsego in adopting measures to prohibit natural gas drilling and hydrofracking. The Town of Dryden voted to put a zoning amendment to ban hydrofracking on the table and scheduled a public hearing for July 20th, and the town of Oneonta received a petition from more than 1/3 of its registered voters to ban drilling and hydrofracking.
Large numbers of people are organizing to take action. In Dryden, more than 1,500 people signed a petition to ban "heavy industrial land uses" and prohibit "the imposition of burdens, costs and negative impacts on citizens and property owners that would likelyresult from such heavy industrial land uses." In Springfield, 95% of those who responded to a survey sent out to residents favored a local law banning drilling and hydrofracking.
These are only some of the communities that are taking action and they are showing that it can be done. To find out how to get started in your community and learn more about Home Rule initiatives, please click here.
Please support Catskill Mountainkeeper so we can continue to support you.
About Catskill Mountainkeeper
Catskill Mountainkeeper is an independent, not for profit, 501c3 community based environmental advocacy organization, dedicated to creating a flourishing sustainable economy in the Catskills and preserving and protecting the area's long term health. We address issues of water integrity for the Delaware and Susquehanna River Systems, the defense of the vast woodlands that encompass the Catskill Forest Preserve and the New York City Watershed as well as farmland protection. We promote "smart" development that balances the economic needs and concerns of the Catskill regions' citizens and the protection of our abundant but exceedingly vulnerable natural resources.