The implementation of gas drilling is being fast tracked. The number of opportunities to impact the outcome is dwindling. If all of us who live in and love the Catskills don’t stand up now, the results are very likely to be catastrophic.
As Catskill Mountainkeeper has reported, the provisions of the Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) governing natural gas drilling issued on September 30, 2009, are woefully inadequate. The proposed regulations simply won’t provide enough protection for the Catskills and the New York City water supply.
There is an unacceptable disregard for the potential public health issues that have been documented to be a byproduct of natural gas drilling. In part these come from the toxic chemicals that are used in hydro-fracking (the process by which gas is released from the shale rock formations deep underground). These chemicals are being knowingly injected into our air, drinking water and blood streams without our knowledge or consent. Unless we are able to effectively mobilize ourselves we appear to be setting ourselves up for a host of unparalleled multi-generational diseases and health afflictions.
When her children started missing school because of persistent diarrhea and vomiting, Pat Farnelli began to wonder if she and her family were suffering from more than just a classroom bug. After trying several remedies, she stopped using the water drawn from her well in this rural corner of northeastern Pennsylvania, the forefront of a drilling boom in what may be the biggest U.S. reserve of natural gas. “I was getting excruciating stomach cramps after drinking the water,” Farnelli said in an interview at her farmhouse, cluttered as a home with eight children would be, while her husband, a night cook at a truck stop, slept on the couch. “It felt like an appendicitis attack.” The family, which is poor enough to qualify for government food stamps, began buying bottled water for drinking and cooking. Their illnesses finally ended, and Farnelli found something to blame: natural gas drilling in the township of 1,400 people.
Ron and Jean Carter suspected there was a leak when the water supply to their trailer home started to taste and smell bad after Cabot started drilling 200 yards (meters) away. Not wanting to risk the health of a new grandchild living with them, the 70-year-old retirees scraped together $6,500 for a water purification system. “It was kind of funny that the water was good in July but after they drilled, it wasn’t,” said Ron Carter.
Tim and Debbie Maye, a truck driver and post office worker who have three teenage children, have been cooking and drinking only bottled water since their well water turned brown in November after Cabot started drilling. But she can’t afford bottled water for her animals. Her cats have been losing fur and projectile vomiting because they lick drips from the spigot that carries water from their well. Her three horses — one of which is losing its hair — drink as much as 50 gallons a day. “I tell my husband, ‘I’m going out to poison the horses,'” she said.
The Endocrine Disruption Exchange, a Colorado research group, has identified 201 fracking chemicals and found almost 90 percent had the potential to harm skin, eyes, and sensory organs; 50 percent could damage the brain and nervous system, and 29 percent may cause cancer.
Health issues, while critical are not the only concern. In addition to contaminated drinking water and air there will also be:
The tremendous disruption of our daily lives from hundreds of large tractor trailers traversing and damaging our roads
The invasive noise of drill engines that run 24/7 and sound like jet engines
The disruption of banks of klieg lights shining 24/7
The draining of many of our lakes, rivers, streams and aquifers
The destruction of our view shed
The inability of local medical and emergency services to handle the types of chemicals and other accidents associated with gas drilling
And the devaluation of property
Unfortunately this is turning into a war to protect your way of life, your family’s health and the value of your property – once gas drilling starts it’s too late!
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Insisting that our government is responsive to those who elect them and pay their salaries is a critically important principle of our country – and it works. Due to pressure from Catskill Mountainkeeper and other groups, the DEC has reversed their previous position and is now presenting public hearings where the public can make comments for the record. See the schedule below. Please come, educate yourself and be prepared to make comment for the record.
10/28/2009 – Loch Sheldrake – Sullivan County Community College E Building, Seelig Theatre; 112 College Rd, Loch Sheldrake, NY 12759
11/10/2009 – New York City – Stuyvesant High School High School Auditorium,345 Chambers St, New York, NY 10282
11/12/2009 – Chenango Bridge – Chenango Valley High School High School Auditorium; 221 Chenango Bridge Rd, Chenango Bridge, NY 13901
TBD – Elmira/Corning
Public comments session will start at 7:00 PM.
Catskill Mountainkeeper is not a radical organization nor are we normally given to using such strong language, but this is an incredibly important issue where the public’s best interest is not being met. This is not a time when you can stand on the sidelines. The price that you will pay is too high.
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