CWCWC Sues to Ban Fracking in NYS

PO Box 484 Bedford, NY 10506

May 3, 2011 Contact: Marian Rose (914) 234-3179 or
For Immediate Release

CWCWC Sues to Prevent DEC from High Volume Horizontal
Hydraulic Fracturing in New York State Forests

The Croton Watershed Clean Water Coalition, Inc. (CWCWC) has sued the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) in New York State Supreme Court to declare High Volume Horizontal Hydraulic Fracturing (HVHHF) in New York State Forests contrary to the New York State Constitution and applicable environmental laws.

CWCWC president Fay Muir explained, “New York State Forests are one of the great environmental success stories of the 20th century. After years of industrialization laying waste to hundreds of thousands of acres, New York State began a reforestation program with assistance from depression-era work programs. DEC correctly states that ‘New York’s green certified State Forests shine among the gems of the State’s public land holdings… sustainable management of these lands [adds] multiple benefits including clean water, timber, recreation, wildlife and scenic beauty.’ HVHHF in State Forests will reverse those gains allowing industry to profit over people. Further, the radioactive discharges will threaten human health for centuries. New Yorkers deserve better. Although DEC allows minor vertical drilling, the New York State Constitution guarantees that these forests shall be used for wildlife and forest conservation as opposed to massive HVHHF with gas rigs, pipelines, compressor stations, and access roads. DEC bans other industrial uses such as wind turbines, commercial mining and communications towers and there is no reason to reverse DEC policy by allowing HVHHF in such an important public resource.”

For an independent analysis of the biological impacts of HVHHF in the State Forests, CWCWC retained Hudsonia, a nonprofit, non-advocacy institute that conducts research and provides information for land use planning and environmental management. Hudsonia and Hickory Creek Consulting prepared a report analyzing a number of potential impacts to biological resources,
particularly including the toxicity of spilled or leaked wastewater affecting streams and wetlands, and the fragmentation of forests by drilling pads, access roads, and pipelines.

Sierra Club’s Lower Hudson Group chairman George Klein said, “Our DEC’s mission includes protecting New York’s natural resources and environment and controlling water, land and air pollution, in order to enhance the health, safety and welfare of the people of the state. Allowing HVHHF in our state forests would be an outrageous violation of their mission, and of our forests. This suit simply prods DEC to fulfill its mission.”

“The Croton Watershed Clean Water Coalition has done a great service to all New Yorkers by bringing this lawsuit and seeking to protect us from the harms of HVHHF in our state forests. I am grateful for the opportunity to join in the suit as an individual plaintiff. I live next to the Birdseye Hollow State Forest in Steuben County, and am concerned that air and water contamination caused by HVHHF in Birdseye Hollow will be harmful to the health of those of us who live near the forest and destructive to property values, farming and tourism in our area,” said Rachel Treichler, Hammondsport, New York.

HVHHF is the highly controversial process used to extract natural gas (mostly methane) from a deep-lying hard rock formation, the Marcellus Shale, which underlies most of NYS’s southern tier. Explosive forces and millions of gallons of water per well, under high pressure and laced with carcinogenic chemicals, amongst others, are used to shatter the rock and release the methane. The briny water that goes back to the surface contains heavy metals and unusually high levels of salt and radioactivity. No water treatment plant in NYS is capable of safely treating or disposing of these products, and the underlying geological formations are unsuitable for injection wells. Air pollution from the hundreds of trucks needed to bring in the water; stream and lake pollution from inadequate holding ponds; spills and stormwater runoff; noise pollution; destruction of forested areas – all will disperse the wildlife. Instead of being areas for recreation and a low-level, sustainable industry of forest products such as timber, these forests will become highly industrialized zones, entirely contrary to the purposes for which they were established and maintained since 1929, at public expense.

For legal questions please contact James Bacon, Esq., attorney for CWCWC at (845) 255-2026.

The Croton Watershed Clean Water Coalition, Inc. (CWCWC) is a not-for-profit organization comprising over fifty community, environmental, religious and housing groups throughout NYC, Westchester and Putnam Counties. CWCWC strives to protect and improve the waters of NYC’s Croton Watershed as well as all NYS watersheds. We are an alliance of individuals and groups who believe that safe, clean and affordable drinking water is a basic human right.


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