An open letter to DEC commissioner Joe Martens:
The Town of New Paltz appreciates the hard work that you and your staff have invested in reviewing the potential impact of permitting hydrofracking in New York State. We also recognize that due to the failure of the New York State legislature to responsibly fund the DEC, the DEC is one of the most under-funded agencies in our state, jeopardizing your ability to safeguard the health of our state residents.
In New York State, 14 inspectors now oversee about 1,000 active oil and gas wells. If high-volume hydraulic fracking is permitted, their workload “will escalate by an anticipated 1,600 applications annually, or about 100 applications per inspector,” according to Dusty Horwitt, senior counsel for the Environmental Working Group.
“These 14 overworked inspectors [are all that stand between New York State residents] and a multi-billion-dollar disaster,” Horwitt said.
The Town of New Paltz recognizes that the DEC’s very mandate (DEC authorizing legislation 23-031) requires it to “provide for the operation and development of oil and gas properties in such a manner that a greater ultimate recovery of oil and gas may be had.” Therefore we want to go on the record requesting that this statute be amended and that this sentence stricken. The people of New York require that our DEC be enabled to fully protect our health. This sentence is an indisputable example of the power of the oil and gas lobby to actually write legislation that exempts them from regulation.
We strongly endorse the comments of New York State Senator David Carlucci who writes, “Although I am pleased that the New York City and Syracuse watersheds will be exempt as they are unfiltered water sources, it does, however, raise a troubling paradox,” he wrote. “If the threat of potential pollution is too great to subject the New York City and Syracuse watersheds to, why would it then be acceptable to subject water sources in the rest of the state to the same potential contamination?”
We believe that the State of New York cannot assure the safety of New York’s water supply and air quality if hydrofracking is permitted. We also concur with the opinion of our Congressman, Maurice Hinchey:
“The consequences of failing to safeguard our water resources, air quality and public health would far outweigh the purported economic benefits associated with drilling.”
Congressman Hinchey believes the current SGEIS does not provide these protections and should be rejected. By unanimous vote at their regular meeting on Nov. 17, 2011 the Town Board of the Town of New Paltz agrees and asks that the SGEIS be rejected.
We further request that these comments be made part of the official comment record of the hearings now in process.
Toni Hokanson, Jane Ann Williams, Kitty Brown, David Lewis and Jeff Logan
New Paltz Town Board
For more letters, see print edition.