Friday, October 14, 2011

3 Essays by Steven Foster

Water-Gas-Jobs-Toxic Waste
Hold Cuomo, DEC Accountable
Canandaigua's Toxic Waste History & Our Future

This is a very long hyperlinked version of  Steven Foster's essay in the Daily Messenger.   It is always being updated.   Please click on the hyperlinked colored words in the essay.

Water - Gas - Jobs - Toxic Waste

Fresh Water vs Jobs? This compelling question is not easy to address. We all want to believe in the promises & dreams the politicians and the Oil & Gas Industry put out about all the jobs and wealth associated with horizontal gas well drilling in the Marcellus Shale. But the DEC's urgent intent to give hydrofracking permissions to the Industry that will essentially destroy New York's other natural resources (water, earth, air) is not only inappropriate at this time, it could very well be criminal.  Click here The DEC has not prepared properly to begin a very dangerous process that can badly damage the land and the lives of the people who live on it.

The Oil & Gas Industry, because of the awful economy & the Halliburton loophole ( Safe Drinking Water Act, 2005 ), has us right where they want us (between a rock and a hard place). They want us to think we need the gas (we don't, most will be exported) and when the drilling begins, there will be jobs (also not true, most jobs go to already contracted industry employees).  

The more true information we gather about the Hydrofracking business, and the politics behind it, the better we will be able to understand the inevitable consequences of allowing hydrofracking into our area. The more we know the better we will be able to take a stand against the big shadow that is coming down upon us.  

Please take time to Click on the red highlighted words which will supply you with supporting information to various points I make in this essay.
Water & Gas
I attended a hydrofracking forum in Rochester, NY on October 16, 2011 and the host, Dr. Joseph Hoff made this very compelling point:
1)  Of all the fresh water in the world, less than 1 % of it is NOT POLLUTED and potable, acceptable for drinking or domestic uses.  (see the water flowchart at the bottom of this page)
2) The world's two biggest sources of fresh water is the Great Lakes, and the Finger Lakes.  
So . . .
3) Why in the world would we want use up most of our fresh Finger Lakes water with the very toxic hydrofracking process? In addition, all the water used in hydrofracking becomes hazardous waste (thought right now the DEC won't call it that) and will require trucking all that dangerous water (known as brine) out of the state. This will be very expensive, and polluting as well (truck exhaust, truck noise, truck damage to roads, etc.). 

Our Finger Lakes water is a precious, valuable -but vulnerable- natural resource.  In the near future we will be fighting wars over potable water. Right now fresh water is possibly a more valuable natural resource than natural gas. See the article: Why the World My Be Running Out of Water

Allowing Hydrofracking in the Finger Lakes would be like biting the hand that feeds us; like killing the very thing that keeps us alive. We know that gas drilling leads almost always to some form of water pollution. Why does the DEC continue to deny this despite all the evidence?  DEC Denials - Ithaca Journal   EPA's new findings

We can't live without water; we can live without natural gas. In fact NY does not need the gas beneath it. It will be exporting most of gas, very expensively, and NY will see very little benefit from the deal.

We should NOT rush into hydrofracking right now. It could be the ruin of our land and water and our children's future. We should wait until we learn how to access the natural gas in a safer, less intrusive and more responsible way. There must be careful, peer reviewed studies by scientists, physicians and environmental specialists that will help us arrive at an agreed upon solution. Right now Gov. Cuomo and the DEC are fast tracking hydrofracking upon us in an uncaring, aggressive, irresponsible, dangerous and perhaps criminal way.  
We must act NOW to protect our Finger Lakes watershed from hydrofracking. I expect our politicians, and the Oil and Gas and Coal industries, and our DEC, will kick and scream all the way as we insist on moving more slowly and carefully toward a safer alternative to the very polluting methods we have currently for accessing and using fossil fuels.  

Despite the fact that people are dying all over the world for lack of fresh water, and we know that it takes a staggering TWO to FOUR MILLION GALLONS OF WATER to frack a single lateral well, which becomes poisoned by the toxic chemicals and radio active materials in the ground, our politicians, the corporations and the bankers (who are all holding their breaths-and probably their hands t00) are I'm assuming personally over-invested; they won't want to give up their power positions and their dreams for big financial windfalls.  But at what costs to us? and the land?
We know fossil fuels, and the processes to get at them, create dangerous ozone depletions, which affects global temperatures, which makes for floods and high winds and droughts with unstoppable fires. Recent studies have shown that hydrofracking is an even dirtier process than mining coal. See Robert Howarth, ecologist, "Fracking dirtier than coal."   There is growing concerns about the relationships between hydrofracking and earthquakes.  And recent economic studies have shown that the known and hidden costs of hydrofracking are much greater than we had ever imagined. Economic Assessment of Hydrofracking, Dr. Barth   A U.S. Geological Survey just slashed its estimate on the amount of gas in the Marcellus Shale by 80%, raising doubts about all the industry's positive economic projections about jobs, royalties, and revenues.   Click here. and here

Jobs & Hydrofracking
We all are victims of the greed and corruption of our political system, the big banks system, and the powerful corporations that are paying everyone off.  Thanks to them, we are in an economic crisis that is so bad that we the people are forced to feel compelled to risk our own lives, our communities, and our owned property and the State's most valuable natural resources to do the risky, dirty, toxic work of hydrofracking.  Farmers are so desperate for financial aid that they are begging the DEC to allow fracking. This is a sad irony. The farmers love the land and yet they are forced to risk their health and the beauty and the fertility of the land they have worked so long to the violent and uncaring hydrofracking industry that has the farmers strapped in every possible legal way because of the leases the farmers signed under oftentimes illegal trickery and duress.

We know that the ugly work of hydrofracking does harm to the workers, their families, their communities; we know that hydrofracking poisons the land, air and water; and we know that the work for local people is short term - that is, a disproportionate number of the hydrofracking jobs are being done by already contracted workers who travel all over the country doing the specialized work for the gas drilling companies.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. sits on Cuomo's Hydrofracking advisory panel. He has just written a major article that everyone should read. At first, he says, he was hopeful about hydrofracking, but now he feels just the opposite. Here's what he says about hydrofracking jobs:

"Gas fracking flacks routinely make extravagant promises about bringing jobs and income to the depressed rural communities.  If those jobs and royalties don't come -- the way they have not come for people in Bradford County, PA -- New Yorkers will be justifiably angry, as they wonder why the government and our panel did not protect them when there were so many warning signs."

Health care is one of the most important unknown factors associated with hydrofracking. Visit Steingraber.  Local communites will have to pay for the wasteland left behind from hydrofracking.  "Get out your checkbook"  There are many stories of how Hydrofracking has destroyed entire communities. Visit Fractured Communities & A True Story: Community impact of Hydrofracking   New York times article Oct. 30
We know that because hydrofracking work is so dangerous, some companies have pressured their workers into signing contractual clauses that bind them to using only company doctors. In this way, when the workers fall sick from the constant exposure to toxic chemicals and fumes associated with hydrofracking, the danger of the work and the harm it does workers can be kept silent.  
This conspiracy of silence is used in many ways by the gas and oil industry - it helps keep the hydrofracking business sounding promising to a public who wants desperately to believe in their lies. Foe example: why won't they tell us what chemicals are used in their fracking fluids? Trade secrets they say, though we know better:

Environmental Working Group (January 2010): An investigation of the chemical disclosure records of drilling corporations found that some fracking fluids contained up to 93 times more benzene [a carcinogenic] than diesel. The amount of benzene from a single fracked well could contaminate more than 100 billion gallons of drinking water. See page 3 "Ten Studies and Investigations, Jan 2010 to May 2011"

Why won't the DEC insist that they make the Industry"s "trade secrets" tansparent? The DEC's job is supposedly to protect us, but upon reviewing the SGEIS documents, it's clear they are not thinking about the residents of New York State. They are using old outdated Industry statistics to sell the idea of hydrofracking.  
It's not just what the industry says (most of it is lies), but what it doesn't tell us that also needs our serious consideration. I have seen industry salesmen act really dumb when faced with hard questions in a public forum. Either they don't know the answers (but of course they should) or they know they can't afford to answer the question because it would spoil the dream, the promise, reveal their lies and incriminate themelves. One industry speaker at a forum said "We use stuff you can find under the kitchen sink." I have seen entire knowledgable audiences almost have a fit when they hear these kinds of snake oil industry tactics.  

Here are some facts:
A 2011 study identified 632 chemicals used in natural gas operations. Only 353 of these are well-described in the scientific literature; and of these, more than 75% could affect skin, eyes, respiratory and gastrointestinal systems; roughly 40-50% could affect the brain and nervous, immune and cardiovascular systems and the kidneys; 37% could affect the endocrine system; and 25% were carcinogens or mutagens. The study indicated possible long-term health effects that might not appear immediately. The study recommended full disclosure of all products used, along with extensive air and water monitoring near natural gas operations; it also recommended that fracking's exemption from regulation under the US Safe Drinking Water Act be rescinded.[35
                                                35. Colborn, Theo; Kwiatkowski, Carol; Schultz, Kim; Bachran, Mary (2011). "Natural Gas Operations from a Public Health Perspective"Human and Ecological Risk Assessment: An International Journal (17:5): 1039–1056.] 

I certainly want the people of the Finger Lakes, and all of New York State, to have safe, meaningful, secure long terms jobs. Thus I feel compelled to argue first of all, on behalf of the Natural World. If we don't have a healthy environment with fresh water in our lives, our culture as we know it now, will be wasted. Those who are in need of work are not the problem.  They are victims of a corrupted system. Those who may have leased their land for oil drilling deserve our compassion because the are most probably hurting for money and victims of industry misrepresentations and thus need legal help, and they need our compssion. Gas land leases - How to get out?  The people who own land and whose mortgages and insurance is being threatened by the land lease corruptions associated with hydrofracking are also victims and need our compassion and legal help. Gas Leasing Impacts on Homeowners  The people who are suffering water well contamination - the inevitable outcome of hydrogracking gas drilling - need our compassion and legal help, and water they can trust to drink. DEC Denials - Ithaca Journal  &    
The corporate Oil and Gas Industry has practically unlimited funds to spin the hydrofracking dream to the public and buy off politicians. But the reality will be: the gas company workers will come into a community from out of state, do their uncaring "rape" of the land, take the gas, most of the money . . . and leave.  They will leave behind the local hired workers and their families and their communities to deal with the polluted land and water and air; the broken or ruined roads and other infrastructure that must be repaired or replaced - most probably at the cost of the local municipalities. Then once the jobs have disappeared the forgotten workers will have to face, along with their family members and their communities, not only immediate but also serious long term health care problems because of the toxic chemicals used in hydrofracking that pollute the air, water, land and food.  

What kind of legacy is that for our children and grandchildren?  

I am so angry about all this! And to think (it's like salt in a wound) that our tax dollars are being used to support the DEC's attempt to do it's so called "studies" in a way that would allow them to rush into our Finger Lakes area to frack the land, and us! Our local tax money will most probably have to be used to clean up most of the mess left behind by the industry! Will this money be taken out of education?  

I think it quite possible that we will be seeing the people of New York, with their backs to the wall, filing law suits against the State. Cuomo needs to really think carefully about his future political ambitions. Hydrofracking the people of New York could be a way of shooting himself in the foot.
Toxic Waste
Perhaps the ultimate absurdity of the DEC's SGEIS (and there are many - like wanting to give out permits to drill before setting up regulations; like allowing drilling only 150 feet from a river or stream) is that the fracking waste can't be dumped anywhere in NY State because it is so hazardous.  Our State does not have the means to purify hydrofracking waste. The toxic waste will have to be taken to other states (Ohio is one) and dumped into well holes that will eventually -if not immediately- leak and pollute their acquifers. How absurd is this? We will pollute two our more states in the process of hydrofracking New York! (Note: polluted water moves, just like fresh water, so our state's hydrofracking pollution will affect many others. How about this: the Genesee River flows North out of Pennsylvania - the current wild west of Hydrofracking. And water pollution is just one part of it; don't forget Hydrofracking pollutes air and land.)
The transportation costs of removing the toxic waste, and the environmental costs (24/7 truck sound and truck air and truck light pollution), and the costs to repair damaged roads (5,000-8,900 industrial size truckloads of waste for just one pad with 8 wells) will be enormous!  There has been some concern that these kinds of costs (not to mention hidden and unknown health costs) could make hydrofracking prohibitive in the State.  They could certainly cause increases in State taxes.

In any case, how can the DEC be pushing such a monstrous process onto us without first creating a full, objective, peer reviewed scientific evaluation? What the DEC is trying to pull over on us is so obvious it is almost laughable. But I feel heartbroken.
It just keeps getting more absurd: Just recently the Sierra Atlantic came out with an article entitled Cuomo-backed plan would dump "treated" frack water in Lake Ontario.                                                                   
There is overwhelming evidence, and there are very strong arguments being presented by Physicians, Scientists, Ecologists, Economists, all kinds of environmental specialists, etc., that hydrofracking - as it is being done today - is an extremely dangerous, unhealthy and an irresponsible method for getting access to the natural gas in shale layers of New York State. Over four hundred Physicians wrote Cuomo to tell him this. At the Oct.6 Hearing in Albany a representative of the Physicians, Scientists & Engineers for Healthy Energy gave a compelling testimony against hydrofracking as it is being presented in the current SGEIS document.   See also: 20 concerns scientists
We can live without the natural gas stored below us for a few more years until a careful, safe, responsible, scientifically proven method for getting to the gas is finally agreed upon by all the qualified specialists. We can't live without fresh water.  

It is clearly premature to allow the DEC and the Oil and Gas Industry to run fast and furious over it's people and our objections to their plan to destroy the landscape and our culture for some natural gas that we don't need. I repeat again: we will be seeing wars fought some day over the need for precious, fresh potable water. (Read Bill McKibben's book, Eaarth, page 82-83.) But right now we are in a war to fight the politicians and the Oil and Gas Industry for our right to due process, our right to be heard, our right to valuable time needed to carefully study the situation and come up with better, safer was of accessing the natural gas . . . AND, just as importantly, we need to consider other kinds of energy solutions. Hydrofracing and solar energy  Using New Technologies to capture energy for purifying water
New York State could become our country's leader, the very first SUSTAINABLE ENERGY STATE in the Union, if we (and Cuomo) chose to go in that direction. Rather than allow ourselves to be bought off, fooled, or overrun by the DEC and the Oil and Gas Industry, we could create vital new jobs relating to sustainable energy production; jobs that would insure healthy, growing communities; jobs that will help the entire world's process of sustaining life (rather than destroying it with huge carbon footprints - coal, gas drilling).  

Exciting new things in the alternative energy field are happening. It's time to think about the new ways of the future, rather than just quick financial fixes from harvesting polluting fossil fuels by using destructive, polluting processes like Hydrofracking.  
Things We Can Do
Get informed about the truths of hydrofracking - explore this website
See this 12 min Video documentary from the Oct. 6 2011 Albany Hearing
Write comments to the DEC and Gov. Cuomo before Jan. 11, 2012 HOW to WRITE the DEC 
Go to Town Board Meetings (Canandaigua, Dec 5), support establishing zoning laws
Sign Walter Hang's Coalition Letter
Attend the Public Hearings (Nov. 29, 30)
Talk with others, create networks of communication, share you ideas and concerns
Write even more comments to the DEC and Gov. Cuomo HOW to WRITE the DEC 
Thanks for whatever you can do to help Protect the Finger Lakes.  
Steven Foster

Please see my second essay - following the water chart -

Flowchart on drinkable water in the world

April 1, 2010 to Discussion  •  Share on Twitter  •  Comments (33)
Discuss: Flowchart on drinkable water in the world

This brief essay was sent to the Daily Messenger as an opion 11-21-11 by Steven Foster
Please click on the colored, hyperlinked words in the essays, and below each paragraph  for additional background information.

Guest essay: Hold Cuomo, DEC accountable on hydrofracking

I am opposed to hydrofracking in New York State.  The incredibly flawed and inadequate 2011 revised SGEIS just makes me furious with its Industrial biased studies, pathetically vague and misguided guidelines, and practically no regulations.   It appears the DEC is holding hands with the Oil and Gas Industry, and at the expense of the good people and the beautiful land of New York State.   I wouldn't be surprised if the big hydrofracking push is tied directly to the Canada Tar Sands fight.    They have to use a lot of gas to get a little of that dirty oil.  The whole thing just disgusts me.  Soon fossil fuels will be replaced by green alternatives, and the dying monster wants to get its greedy little hands on all it can before it dies.

I can hardly believe my tax dollars are being used to contrive a criminal plan to turn our state into an Industrial Wasteland.  The DEC is willing to put the world’s most needed natural resource, fresh potable water, at risk - and for what? - a very limited supply of gas!  It has recently been determined that there is 80% less gas to be fracked than first calculated, and the gas from NY would most probably be exported (at great expense and of little profit to New Yorkers) because WE DON’T NEED the gas here.  
(It takes a staggering TWO to FOUR MILLION GALLONS OF WATER to frack a single lateral well, and at least 30% of it becomes poisoned by the toxic fracking chemicals and radio active and other dangerous materials in the ground. This backflow, brine toxic waste cannot be processed in NY state plants. It will have to be trucked out of state.)
The DEC does not even know what to do with the toxic waste from hydrofracking!  It’s too hazardous to filter in our state!  One day wars will be fought because of the need for potable water, and the DEC is wanting to rush into a gas drilling process known to poison groundwater.

Thanks to Walter Hang, the NY Times and the recent studies coming out by the EPA, it’s clear now that the DEC and the gas industry have been lying and denying accusations for years about groundwater contamination from natural gas drilling.  The DEC and the industry have lost all credibility in my eyes.  We must take action to protect ourselves and our environment!   
I encourage everyone to write the DEC and Gov. Cuomo and insist that they provide us with thorough, neutral, peer reviewed scientific studies that can show beyond a reasonable doubt that hydrofracking can be done in NY State in a way that is economically feasible, environmentally safe, and beneficial to all of us -- not just a few Industry people, heavy investors, bought-off politicians, large corporations and banks.
We should have Gov. Cuomo understand that if he decides to go ahead and permit hydrofracking without our blessings, and the blessings of our scientists, doctors, economists and environmentalists, he and the DEC must expect to be held criminally liable for what will surly become an unforgivable travesty.  
A 2011 study identified 632 chemicals used in natural gas operations. Only 353 of these are well-described in the scientific literature; and of these, more than 75% could affect skin, eyes, respiratory and gastrointestinal systems; roughly 40-50% could affect the brain and nervous, immune and cardiovascular systems and the kidneys; 37% could affect the endocrine system; and 25% were carcinogens or mutagens. The study indicated possible long-term health effects that might not appear immediately. The study recommended full disclosure of all products used, along with extensive air and water monitoring near natural gas operations; it also recommended that fracking's exemption from regulation under the US Safe Drinking Water Act be rescinded.[35
                                                35. Colborn, Theo; Kwiatkowski, Carol; Schultz, Kim; Bachran, Mary (2011). "Natural Gas Operations from a Public Health Perspective". Human and Ecological Risk Assessment: An International Journal (17:5): 1039–1056.] 

Canandaigua's Toxic Waste History - 
and Our Future 
The following essay was submitted to the Daily Messenger December 17, 2011  

From: Steven Foster []
Sent: Saturday, December 17, 2011 10:42 AM
To: Sherwood, Julie; Frisch, Kevin; Cooper, Allison; Cain, Erinn
Subject: [SPAM-GHM]  Hydraulic Fracturing Waste and Canandaigua

The little publicized Senate Hearing on Hydrofracking Waste in Canandaigua, NY on Monday, Dec. 12, 2011 was excellent.  The presentations by Walter Hang,  John Wood (NRDC) and Sandra Steingraber were quite compelling with their abundance of facts, science, statistics, documentation...  I can’t say the gas and oil speakers did anything more than lie and try to sell themselves.  I was quite embarrassed for them.

I live in Canandaigua and was shocked by what Walter Hang had to say about our quiet little town on Canandaigua Lake.  Hang writes: 

“It is entirely appropriate that your hearing is being held today in Canandaigua because the Canandaigua Wastewater Treatment Facility reportedly received 177,000 gallons of gas drilling wastewater generated in Pennsylvania by EOG Resources, Inc. without knowing the source of the wastewater.>

The facility reportedly stopped accepting all gas drilling wastewater in September 2009. Prior to that time, it had reportedly accepted gas drilling wastewater for up to nine years.

Canandaguia exemplifies how toxic gas drilling wastewater has been discharged to POTWs in New York's Finger Lakes Region without approved pretreatment programs and in contravention of pretreatment and other regulatory requirements. This illustrates the fundamental inadequacy of New York's enforcement efforts regarding treatment of gas drilling wastewater. Unfortunately, Canandaguia is by no means the only facility in the region that accepted gas drilling wastewater.”

Hang also stated:

“Tens of millions of gallons of gas drilling wastewater have been discharged to publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) that are neither designed, constructed nor maintained to be able to break down or remove gas drilling wastewater pollutants. This is an extremely important public policy matter that must be fully resolved prior to permitting horizontal hydrofracturing in New York’s tight shale.

Gas drilling wastewater is fundamentally incompatible with the “secondary” biological treatment systems employed by virtually all municipal treatment systems in New York to break down human sewage. These “activated sludge” and “trickling filter” or “biotower” systems promote the growth of bacteria that degrade human wastewater components.”

Unfortunately, ALL the toxic stuff that is not removed by the POTW’s (and which ruins their ability to process human waste) ends up in Lake Ontario.  This past year, the DEC sent out a notice that it is not safe to eat ANY fish from Lake Ontario, yet many rely on it for drinking water...

How can I not be cynical about the fact that a society which continues to poison its own drinking water is headed for dissolution?   Is this what Governor Cuomo wants for our State of New York?

I can’t understand how Gov. Cuomo could even be considering hydrofracking our State.  We already know it will be an environmental and health disaster for all of us.  I am willing to consider the possibility that the natural gas in the shale could somehow be safely accessed.  But it is totally unacceptable to begin permitting hydraulic fracturing in NY State until it is proven beyond a doubt by unbiased scientists, physicians, engineers, environmentalists, etc.  that it can be done safely.

If we cannot drink the water in NY State after the state is hydrofracked, who will supply us with the water we need to live?  To survive in this state its citizens may have to litigate, recall the Governor, perhaps stand in front of all the thousands of hydrofracking waste trucks - as the young people of Youngstown, Ohio are doing now.  (New York is  considering sending our hydrofracking waste to Ohio.)  If we stand together Cuomo will have to face at least a political crisis because it is a matter of life or death to most of us residents.  Perhaps Gov. Cuomo is living under the delusion that since he has exempted haudraulic drilling near the watersheds that supply water to NY City he personally will be safe.  I wouldn’t bet on it.  Poisoned water as well as fresh water moves.

To see all anti-fracking testimonies visit:

These three testimonies must be seen, and in this order:  
John Wood

Sandra Steingraber