Tag Archive: Hydrofracking

Jan 12 2013

Councilman Calls On DEC To Mitigate Dangers Of Hydrofracking

Gennero_small-300x225Councilman Gennaro continues the fight against the dangers of hydrofracking.

Press Release: City Council Member James F. Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows), Chairman of the City Council Committee on Environmental Protection, called on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) to establish crucial safeguards to protect New York City’s water supply system from some of the worst effects of the process of High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing (HVHF), also known as fracking.

In a letter sent to NYSDEC before the Jan. 11 deadline for comment on the agency’s proposed Revised High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing Regulations, Gennaro backed the New York City Department of Environmental Protection’s (NYCDEP) proposed 7-mile buffer zone to safeguard much of the city’s Upstate vital water tunnels from possible increased seismic activity caused by fracking practices.

However, in order to minimize the chance of catastrophic damage to city’s Upstate water tunnels and aqueducts, which provide 1 billion gallons of water each day to 9 million New Yorkers, Gennaro called for the 7-mile buffer zone to be extended to cover even more of the system.

Currently, NYCDEP proposes a 7-mile buffer for parts of the water system, and  a “hybrid” approach for other parts of the water supply system, which would include an immediate buffer zone of 2 miles where no fracking would be allowed, plus a 5-mile zone where fracking could possibly occur subject to further environmental review and increased safeguards. Gennaro prefers that the 7-mile buffer be employed to protect all critical Upstate water supply infrastructure.

“While I respect and appreciate NYCDEP’s good efforts to advocate for the protection of the city’s water supply infrastructure, and its current position to continue to call for the 7-mile buffer for the most critical elements of the water supply infrastructure, I am uncomfortable with the hybrid approach and the additional risk it brings to water supply infrastructure protected by the hybrid approach,”Gennaro said. “Also, with no apparent financial mechanism to pay for possible multi-billion dollar damage to the system from fracking other than New York City water rate-payers, it is unacceptable, in my view, for the city to assume any additional risk to the system.”

Gennaro, who first spoke out on the issue of fracking in June 2008, is featured in the award-winning 2010 documentary, “Gasland,” which focuses on communities impacted by natural gas drilling. 

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2013/01/councilman-calls-on-dec-to-mitigate-dangers-of-hydrofracking/

Nov 28 2012

NYC Environmental Chair Supports Cuomo on Hydrofracking Process

ICMYI: Councilman Jim Gennaro, one of the most outspoken opponents of hydrofracking – and the only geologist in the City Council – applauds Governor Cuomo’s initiative to regulate the hydrofracking industry.

PRESS STATEMENT

FRESH MEADOWS, NY (November 26, 2012) – “As the first public official in New York State to speak out in June of 2008 about the potential adverse environmental and public health impacts drilling for natural gas by the use of high volume hydraulic fracturing, colloquially known as ‘hydrofracking,’ I am compelled to voice my strong support for Governor Cuomo’s leadership on this issue,” Chairman Gennaro said.

“As a geologist and Chairman of the Committee on Environmental Protection of the New York City Council, I have done my best in the many hearings I have held on this subject to keep abreast of the voluminous amount of emerging science regarding the potential impacts of hydrofracking.  That in itself has been a daunting undertaking, but is nothing compared to what the Governor and his environmental team are trying to do – to create a regulatory paradigm for hydrofracking that will be sufficiently protective of the State’s public health and our irreplaceable water, air and land resources.

Such an endeavor is difficult in the extreme within a milieu of emerging science, and I applaud Governor Cuomo for his diligent science-based approach in this matter.  The Governor has always made it clear in his many public statements on hydrofracking that he would be guided by science and safety, and that the advancement of hydrofrackingwould not come at the expense of our State’s irreplaceable natural resources.  He has lived up to his word and not succumbed to political pressure and artificial timetables.  I applaud him for that.

It should be noted that the Governor and his environmental and energy resources team are trying to do what has not been accomplished – or even attempted – in other states that have permitted hydrofracking:  to regulate hydrofracking such that the gas companies bear the full cost of production of their product, and not have their product “subsidized” by the degradation of the State’s water, air and land resources.  Such resources, of course, belong to the current and future generations of New Yorkers, and do not exist merely to increase the gas companies’ bottom line.

So I thank Governor Cuomo for being open to the economic, employment and energy benefits that would accrue from safely extracting natural gas from gas-bearing shale formations in New York State, but I am grateful that he has prioritized the health of New Yorkers and the long term protection of the State’s irreplaceable natural resources over a short term energy and economic boost from hydrofracking.”

Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2012/11/nyc-environmental-chair-supports-cuomo-on-hydrofracking-process/

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Avella Calls on Cuomo to Reject Fracking

State Senator Tony Avella, an environmental hero stands with local officials to voice opposition to hydrofracking in New York State.

Senator Tony Avella, author of Senate Bill No. 4220 which would prohibit the use of hydraulic fracturing in the process of drilling for natural gas and/or oil in New York State said,

“We simply cannot create a situation where we put our citizens at great risk from an environmental disaster by rushing to find an expedient solution to the high cost of oil and the economic hardships faced by our state. The risk of catastrophic danger to the environment, the health of New York State residents and adverse economic impacts that result from hydraulic fracturing far outweigh the potential for job creation and promotion of a natural gas alternative to oil.  I urge the DEC and the Governor to pause in their deliberations and take full measure of the risks versus the benefits of this ‘gold rush’ industry and make the right decision for this state for generations to come.

Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2011/12/avella-calls-on-cuomo-to-reject-fracking/

Oct 07 2011

Gennaro Puts Government Regulators In The Hot Seat

Council Member Jim Gennaro (D-24: Briarwood, Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest, Hillcrest Estates, Jamaica Estates, Jamaica Hills, Kew Gardens Hills, Utopia Estates, & parts of Forest Hills, Flushing, Jamaica & Rego Park) is concerned about the environmental consequences of hydrofracking for all New Yorkers.

In an exclusive interview, QP speaks with Council Member James Gennaro, Chairman of the City Council Environmental Protection Committee on his mission to save our water,  thus proving that pollution does not abide by political boundaries.

Gennaro is not your ordinary Council Member, he’s also a trained geologist. What does a geologist do in the NYC Council? They offer a scientific approach to environmental public policy making. Gennaro is the Council’s point-man on environmental policy. Even though we’ve never met, I liked him immediately.

Gennaro received national acclaim in 2010 for his prominent role in Gas Land, a feature picture that examines the dangers of Hydrofracking, an issue with serious environmental consequences for the people of Queens.

Fracking, according to the Safe Water Movement is an energy and water intensive, highly toxic process whereby methane trapped in impermeable rock (shale and tight sands) is extracted from the ground by pumping chemicals into the Earth.

On September 28th, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation released Hydro-Fracking regulations, which are the rules Big Energy corporations must abide by in order to operate. Gennaro said these regulations were based on a fatally flawed draft of an Environmental Impact Statement that was completed in just three weeks and escaped public scrutiny.

Oh my.

According to the press release,

“In a legitimate environmental regulatory process, the environmental impact statement (EIS) – which is supposed to inform the drafting of environmental regulations – is finalized before the drafting of regulations is commenced. During the finalization process  (Finalizing an EIS involves the submission of public comments to the DEC, written responses to the comments by the DEC, public hearings on the EIS by the DEC, etc.) In this case, these regulations are not only informed by a draft EIS, but an EIS that is, as stated above, a fatally-flawed document that does not come close to assessing properly the myriad of environmental issues and impacts associated with hydraulic fracturing.”

Gennaro’s Interview With QP:

Jim, I know you’re the EPC chair, but other than that, why is Hydrofracking a critical issue for you?

“[Hydrofracking] places the NYC water supply at risk,” said Gennaro who dedicated 21 years of his career to the protection of the NYC watershed and the water it produces for Queens residents.

What headway have you made so far?

“On Fracking — myself and Speaker Christie Quinn and the Bloomberg administration, I think the city has had some success in getting the state to recognize the precious nature of the water supply.” The Cuomo administration and the DEC under Cuomo placed bans on fracking in certain watersheds in Syracuse and other areas.  But the battle is far from over.

According to Gennaro,

“Primary aquifers have been placed off limits to fracking. If you really want to protect you need not only the 2000 square mile watershed but also an adequate buffer with regard to the city’s critical water supply tunnels.”

Policy aside, let’s talk geology. What’s so bad about hydrofracking?

“[Hydrofracking] is an inherently environmentally problematic endeavor.

How So? Tell me more.

“This is just an activity that creates abundant contamination to water supplies but also on the surface, through truck trips, erosion, and pipelines to form a network to transport this gas to the water.” But there’s more to the damage, there is subsurface damage, said Gennaro, and a lot of air quality issues.

Who’s in charge of hydrofracking regulations? Who will save us?

“There is no federal regulation of this activity. This is an industry that can go state to state.”  Energy companies seek a lax regulatory paradigm, he said.

“Although New York will be stricter in the other states to have this process. This is clearly the type of activity that cries out for federal regulation.”

Why aren’t the feds doing anything about this dangerous process?

“The federal EPA is now currently legally prohibited from regulating hydro fracking as per the 2005 energy policy act which does not allow for regulation of this activity and which is currently being studied by the EPA. They are exempt from the clean water act.”

Gennaro expressed his grief with the politics on the federal level and encourages a state solution:

“It’s an abomination. I don’t see any movement in congress to move this around, they have become more and more conservative. I don’t see any movement on the national level to regulate hydrofracking”

“Any such regs would have to pass through a pro-energy and pro-fossil fuel Republican House and they are never going to vote for this it must be fought at the state level and that’s what they’re doing.” 

See State Senator Avella’s bill to ban hydrofracking.

Gennaro thinks that the governor has said some very good things about the science but,

“there is a big disconnect between what the Governor says and what the DEC says and is doing.”

Which City Council Members from Queens are supportive of anti-fracking initiatives?

Peter Vallone issued a statement and I think, the members of the council are very united…all the other boroughs are united.  Some Council Members play a more prominent role, said Gennaro.

“There are those like myself that try to play a prominent role, [and] there are others that are generally supportive of all the time and effort the Council used to push this forward. The speaker has allocated abundant resources to press the case… [although]

“We have no control over what the state ultimately does.”

What role are you playing?

“We are playing the role of advocate. Vallone sits on the EPC he’s been active on the issue.  I don’t know any members that have not been supportive of my efforts. Lord knows there’s been a lot of brain power for the council as an institution dedicated to this issue.”

Is our drinking water really, seriously threatened or is this a game of politics?

“The regulations proposed by the state would allow fracking, immediately adjacent underneath our water supply tunnels which could lead to the direct contamination to the water transported by these tunnels by fracking fluids.” That is the threat, said Gennaro.

“This is what the scientists believe. Also as a geologist, the city’s DEP put forward  – almost two years ago – a large body of science that there should be at least a seven mile ban buffer zone with in any kind of infrastructure like a tunnel. The state DEC is offering rather than a mile buffer, but a 1000-foot buffer. Forty times less than what the city asked for. The state’s buffer is not a true buffer. The Battleground is the buffer to make sure the city can protect the water supply. There are areas upstate technically outside the watershed near our critical water supply tunnels, and that area is not protected.”

What message would you like to send to Big Energy Government Regulators?

Gennaro said the message is not meant for Energy corporations. Corporations by design are motivated by maximizing profit and therefore responsibility for the environment falls on regulators to ensure these companies are operating in a safe capacity.

“Many folks in the fracking debate have all kinds of things to say to the big energy companies, I have a lot more to say to the government regulators who set the rules to which Big energy has to play, there are many people that are involved in the anti fracking movement that have a lot of animus toward Big Energy. It is not big energy’s job to protect the groundwater. Government Regs are charged with responsibility to be good stewards of our natural resources and not putting forth regulation that would cause big problems.

I save my punches for Gov regulators, Gennaro quipped.

“If anyone thinks that big energy is going to be more environmentally protective to our natural resources than the government allows them to be, that’s just not the reality.

The health and safety of people is not at the feet of Big Energy its at the feet of Gov regulators who are blinded by short term tax revenues that comes with liquidating natural resources.

I think it’s a fool’s argument. At the end of the day it’s the people we elect to protect us.”

Council Member Jim Gennaro is doing just that. Bravo Jim.

Rally at Minisink, NY Town Hall. More than 100 protestors attended to Stop The Compressor Station.

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2011/10/council-member-jaems-gennaro-puts-government-regulators-in-the-hot-seat/


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