Join Thousands Calling on Governor Paterson to Require a New Draft Study of Marcellus Gas Drilling’s Risks

Two days ago, the Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin reported on escalating calls across New York State for Governor Paterson to order the state Department of Environmental Conservation to scrap its draft environmental study of controversial new drilling techniques (horizontal drilling with hydraulic fracturing) proposed to be used in the Marcellus Shale formation.  A day earlier, the New York Times reported on increasing concerns about drilling’s pollution risks throughout the Marcellus region – focusing on a recent lawsuit filed by residents of Dimock, PA whose drinking water wells were contaminated following drilling in the area.

In a nutshell, a growing number of environmental, conservation, good government and outdoors groups, joined by thousands of individuals, have concluded that the state DEC’s draft study is fatally flawed – in that it does not adequately evaluate the potential risks from hydraulic fracturing to drinking water, other natural resources and human health – and therefore that it cannot serve as the basis for any decisionmaking with regard to drilling in the Marcellus.

Here is a sign-on letter sent last Thursday in which 26 groups joined NRDC in calling not only for the draft study to be withdrawn, but also for a one-year moratorium on drilling in the Marcellus until the proper studies are completed and asking the Governor to request the EPA Region II conduct a scientifically sound evaluation of the risks of hydraulic fracturing.

Follow this link to send your own similar letter to the Governor.

And here is a link to an on-line petition calling for the draft study’s withdrawal that is sponsored by Toxics Targeting – an Ithaca-based company that obtains data from a local, state and federal sources to help assess and track environmental conditions.  Of late, TT has been devoting significant time and attention to the gas drilling issue.

Last month, TT’s president, Walter Hang, reported that he had identified more than 270 spills associated with gas production in New York – many of which remain unremediated.

Now, Hang is working to locate individuals who are willing to speak out about how they have been personally affected by gas drilling incidents in New York.  The Binghampton SunPress story reports on one:

"Laurie Lytle, a resident of Varick, Seneca County … signed a gas lease with Chesapeake shortly after buying her home near Geneva in September 2006.  By fall 2007,Chesapeake was drilling and hydro-fracking … a vertical well … 660 feet from Lytle’s property line…

The morning after the fracking occurred, Lytle said she was surprised to discover that her water was gray and full of sediment. She said she contacted Chesapeake and they told her it would stop in three to four days once the ground settled. After three days, Lytle said the sediment was gone, but the water was still cloudy. She contacted Chesapeake again and they agreed to install a water filter on her well.

Lytle kept copies of the check and invoice made out to her and her husband, signed by Chesapeake and describing the purpose of the money as "Damages.""

Hang also filmed this video showing a man in Bixby, New York lighting his tap on fire after alleged methane contamination caused by gas drilling:

Hang’s research is putting the lie to the oft-repeated claims by industry that gas drilling has to date – and will continue to – occur in New York without incident and without risk to our environment or health.  And it points to the critical need to ensure that all such risks are fully assessed before any new drilling in the Marcellus is permitted to proceed.

So please write the Governor now to tell him to slow this process down so that New Yorkers can be assured that no new drilling will take place before the proper analyses are completed and any and all protective measures put in place.

We’ll be writing again next week to ask you to weigh in with the state with comments on the inadequacies in the draft study in the event the Governor doesn’t order it pulled before the end of the comment period – the last opportunity for the public to speak to the environmental review – as the decade comes to a close on December 31st.