January 13, 2012 —
January 11 was the last day letters to the DEC could be postmarked and still be considered by the NY Department of Environmental Conservation regarding the proposed new gas drilling rules. On that day, Bruce Ferguson, a member of Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy, along with members Carolyn Duke, Jill Wiener, Ann Finneran, Laurie McFadden and Roy Tedoff delivered boxes stuffed with about 10,300 letters to the US Post Office In Callicoon Center.
Ferguson said the letters came from New York as well as many other states, which is allowed by the DEC. He said the concern about hydraulic fracturing is nation-wide, and the campaign to prohibit it in New York is seen to be the front line in a much larger effort. All of the letters delivered expressed opposition to hydraulic fracturing. Ferguson said that as of the previous Friday, comments to the DEC were running 10 to one against the process.
Catskill Citizens was not the only entity sending messages up against the deadline. In one of their first acts as a body, the newly installed Sullivan County Legislature passed a resolution asking the DEC to withdraw the draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement, (SGEIS) because county legislators have serious concerns about the proposed rules.
Areas of concerned listed by the legislature included impacts of drilling and fracking on public health, socioeconomic impacts on communities and groundwater contamination.
The resolution said that that because there is so much more research to be done to address the concerns enumerated by the county, “it is the county’s view that proceeding toward a final SGEIS at this time would be inappropriate.”
Other entities submitting comments on January 11 included Judith Enck, the regional director of the US Environmental Protection Agency. She sent 26 pages of comments proposing dozens of changes to the document, including a recommendation that the state come up with acceptable limits of radioactive materials in flow-back water and other fracking related fluids before allowing them to be disposed of in any municipal treatment plants.