Raul Larios

New Yorkers…how safe is your cooking gas?

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May 18, 2013 Posted by | New York | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Will Fracking Be Approved in New York?

200,000+ comments against frackingThis is a tough one to answer.  On the one hand, there are reasons to be optimistic.  As you may remember from my blog post last month, New York law offered a 30-day period for public comment on the proposed regulations that would govern hydrofracking.  The response was overwhelming.  Over 200,000 comments were submitted, many of them in paper format, which means that the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) was inundated with hundreds of boxes.

Moreover, on the day of Gov. Cuomo’s State of the State address (January 9, 2013), about 1,500 anti-fracking activists descended on the Empire State Plaza in Albany to urge Gov. Cuomo to ban hydrofracking.  See a short video of the rally here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tfcqzJ7iGTo.  I’m told that this was one of the largest demonstrations (ever!!) in Albany history.

On the other hand, there are many indications that the approval for hydrofracking is signed, sealed and merely waiting delivery.  Consider the following facts:

1.  At the very outset of the review process, DEC gave the natural gas industry access to DEC’s early draft on proposed rules, regulations and permit language, thereby giving the drillers a golden opportunity to influence the re-drafting of the provisional language.  In one blatant example, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), industry lawyers tried to “weaken testing requirements for radioactive pollution that might run off of drilling sites during heavy rains.”

In response to the allegations of misconduct, DEC stated that there was nothing illegal about their behavior.  That in fact, access was necessary to meet DEC’s “obligations under state law”.

But according to EWG, “nowhere in the law does it say regulators must share detailed rule proposals or specific permit language with the drilling industry outside of the public’s eye, behind closed doors…  [And] nowhere in the law does it say regulators must engage in preferential treatment and leave it up to public interest groups to file records requests [under the Freedom of Information Law] to reveal how the Department’s draft plan could be so tilted toward the drilling industry.”

2. DEC took the unusual step of choosing another Cuomo-controlled state agency, the Department of Health (DOH), to review DEC’s internal analysis on the potential health impacts – instead of a totally independent non-governmental evaluation.  Moreover, this examination is happening in total secrecy (the Cuomo administration has refused multiple requests to make the DEC’s health review public).

3. DEC has already issued its revised regulations, even BEFORE the completion of DOH’s health review or the release of the final version of DEC’s Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS).  The way some cynics see it, the Dept. of Environmental Conservation does not really care what the Dept. of Health or the scientific community have to say about the SGEIS…because DEC has already made up its mind.

4. According to EWG, at least one member of Gov. Cuomo’s inner circle (top advisor Lawrence Schwartz) stands to profit from the approval of fracking.

5. According to a Siena College poll last month on the question of allowing hydrofracking in New York, public opinion is pretty evenly split (44% against; 40% in favor, 16% undecided).

6. The January 9th anti-fracking demonstration in Albany (one of the largest in history), barely got any media coverage.

7. And most telling of all, Gov. Cuomo did not say anything against hydrofracking in his State of the State address last month, as thousands outside clamored for its total ban.

Given points 1 – 7 above, do YOU think that the review process has been fair, transparent or science-based, as promised by Gov. Cuomo?  Do you think (as some cynics do) that the decision to approve hydrofracking has already been signed and sealed, and is merely awaiting the required date by law to be delivered?

Speaking of dates, DEC is expected to release its Environmental Impact Statement by February 13.  Once the SGEIS is released, DEC can start issuing permits.  Only Gov. Cuomo can stop the process.

Therefore, please write him to let him know what YOU want.  His address is:

The Honorable Andrew Cuomo / Governor of New York State / State Capitol Building / Albany, NY  12224

In addition, the group “New Yorkers Against Fracking” set up a toll free line that will connect you directly with Gov. Cuomo’s office in Albany that is tabulating calls for and against hydrofracking.  The number is 866-584-6799.

You CAN make a difference: start by writing AND calling Gov. Cuomo directly, and then by telling your friends, family and acquaintances to do the same.  Simply forward this blog post to your social networks on LinkedIn or Facebook via the share buttons below.  But you must act NOW because time is running out.

Good luck and thank you!!

Until next month…

February 1, 2013 Posted by | New York | , , , , , | 5 Comments

Don’t F**ck with New York!

Dont Frack with New York 3Some of you might remember that about a year ago, I wrote a blog post about the pros and cons of hydraulic fracturing in New York State.  After some extensive research, followed by a long conversation with Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, Chair of the Health Committee at the State Assembly in Albany, I became convinced that the environmental risks to New Yorkers far outweigh any economic benefits. You can read the post here: (https://raullarios.wordpress.com/2012/01/12/new-yorkers-do-you-think-hydro-fracking-is-bad-for-your-health-3/)

Coincidentally, shortly after my blog post, Governor Cuomo extended the 4-year old moratorium on fracking in New York, to allow for a more in-depth assessment of the impact to our health.  This extension was applauded by most everybody except, of course, the oil and gas industry.  And they are mad!

The industry has been flexing its very powerful lobbying muscle and putting incredible pressure on Governor Cuomo to start to move things their way.  And they are getting some results:

Consider, for example, that the state agency responsible for drafting the regulations to oversee the fracking process were it to be approved (the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, or DEC) took the unusual step of choosing another Cuomo-controlled state agency, the Department of Health (DOH), to review the DEC’s internal analysis on the potential health impacts — instead of a totally independent non-governmental evaluation.

Moreover, this examination is happening in total secrecy (the Cuomo administration has refused multiple requests to make the DEC’s health review public).

To make matters even worse, it seems that the Dept. of Environmental Conservation doesn’t really care what the Dept. of Health or anybody else might have to say because the DEC has already issued its revised regulations, BEFORE the completion of the DOH’s health review or the release of the final version of the DEC’s massive environmental impact study initiated in 2008.  Apparently, the Cuomo administration is beginning to buckle under the intense lobbying pressure.

Fortunately, New York law requires a 30-day period for public comment on proposed regulations that would govern fracking.  The clock started ticking in mid-December, so you only have until 5pm, January 11, 2013.  If you live in New York and believe that fracking could be detrimental to your health and that it should be banned in our state, but you don’t know exactly what to do or say during this 30-day public comment period that expires January 11th, here is a great website that can help you: http://www.frackaction.com/2012/12/12/lets-make-some-comments/ .

Or you can use the comments that I have personally submitted to the DEC website.  I’m making them available in the “Reply Section” below.  Feel free to copy the ones that make the most sense to you, and submit them under your name.

You can submit your comments to the following DEC website: http://www.dec.ny.gov/energy/76838.html

Or you can mail them to:

Attn: Draft HVHF Regulations Comments
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233-6510

Take action NOW because this will probably be your last chance to make a difference on hydraulic fracturing in New York State!  Governor Cuomo is expected to make a decision by Feb. 27.

Happy New Year!!

January 2, 2013 Posted by | New York | , , , , , | 3 Comments

   

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