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Archive for the ‘Environmental Issues’ Category

On December 8th, Governor David A. Paterson put out a press release announcing an impending Executive Order concerning the timing and the basis under which New York State plans to permit high-volume hydraulic fracturing (fracking) combined with horizontal drilling. Yesterday the actual text of the order was made public and it contains new directives that very significantly affect the process under which decisions will be made regarding gas drilling in our state.

WHAT IT SAYS

The Governor has directed the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to:

  • Complete its review of all of the many thousands of public comments made in connection with the Draft  Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Study (SGEIS) released in September of 2009.
  • Revise the Draft SGEIS to ensure that environmental impacts associated with combined fracking and horizontal drilling are avoided or mitigated.
  • Publish a revised Draft SGEIS on or about June 1, 2011 and schedule a public comment period of not less than 30 days.
  • Not issue drilling permits until a final SGEIS is completed, a report is made to the Governor and the regulatory conditions that are necessary to protect the public’s health and the environment are in place.

WHAT IT MEANS

The Governor is in effect saying that the outcry of the people of New York State has been heard loud and clear, that the State didn’t get it right on the Draft SGEIS and that he is now going to try to correct this situation. This point of view is supported by comments made by acting DEC Commissioner Peter Iwanowicz in the New York Times today saying that many of the comments regarding the proposed standards have criticized provisions concerning the cumulative impact of multiple drilling sites, disposal of drilling wastewater and the protection of drinking water. He goes on to say that “it behooves the next administration to incorporate the range of different issues in the revised draft.”

Regrettably the Executive Order does not stop the gas companies from drilling vertical wells and then fracking them. There is substantial documented data that shows that drilling vertical wells and fracking them both have resulted in seriously contaminated drinking water including in nearby Dimock, PA.

The bottom line is that there will be a new draft environmental impact study by June, we have a good chance of getting another round of public hearings and a final SGEIS is unlikely before the end of 2011. It also signals the inclusion of many provisions that were blatantly missing from the fatally flawed initial Draft. If the past is a good guide, there will be many shortcomings to the new draft and our continued vigilance and careful involvement will be required.

It will be interesting to see what happens next. What do you think will happen next?

*Thank you to the Catskill Mountainkeeper for keeping us informed of this new situation and sending us the new developments.

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Orange County still has many bucolic roads, and there is no better way to enjoy them than cruising on your bicycle, and no better time of year than fall. As fate would have it, the Orange County Bicycle Club realizes this:

Save the Date: Oct 3, 2010

Country Roads Fall Foliage Bicycle Tour

The Orange County Bicycle Club and Occupations, Inc., join forces to bring you to the 2010 Country Roads Fall Foliage Bicycle Tour, the ride with the camels, celebrating open space in Orange County, NY. Take any of four choice routes on uncrowded roads the varied landscape of Orange & Ulster Counties in the Hudson Valley. Proceeds benefit the Orange County Land Trust for open space, the Sanctuary for Animals, for animal rescue, and Occupations, Inc., for children with special needs.

Choose from:
1) 14 mile route for older children and once-in-a-while riders
2) 24-mile offers pleasant day trip through the countryside
3) 48-mile routes offers a longer pleasant day trip through the countryside
4) 69-mile ride goes through rolling farmland and over forested ridges

Register Now: Active.com Pre-registration is $30 and goes toward the causes listed above.

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Hudson Valley Ruins: Forgotten Landmarks of an American Landscape” is the topic of an author talk at the Newburgh Free Library on Thurs., Sept. 23 at 7:30 p.m. Written by preservationists Thomas E. Rinaldi and Robert J. Yasinsac, this free lecture looks at some of the region’s forgotten architectural treasures including the Dutch Reformed Church in Newburgh, the Lucky Platt Department store in Poughkeepsie and the ruins of the West Point Foundry in Cold Springs.

 In addition to great river estates, the book profiles sites meaningful to everyday life in the Hudson Valley including churches and hotels, commercial and civic buildings, mills and train stations. Included are works by some of the most important names in American architectural history, such as Alexander Jackson Davis and Calvert Vaux.

 Divided into four parts that correspond to the upper, middle, maritime, and lower sections of the Hudson Valley, sites have been selected for their general historical and architectural significance; their relationship to important themes in the region’s history; their physical condition or “rustic” character; and their ability to demonstrate a particular threat faced by historical buildings in the region today.

 Admission is free and no registration is required. For information, go to www.newburghlibrary.org, 0r call 563-3619.

The Dutch Reformed Church in Newburgh

The Dutch Reformed Church in Newburgh

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An article in Sunday’s Times Record gives some back history on the formation of the advocacy group Catskill Mountainkeepers. The organization was formed to protect the ecological integrity of the Catskill Mountain range and the quality of life of all those who live there. Hudson Valley Life ran an op-ed piece by Catskill Mountainkeeper board member Ilene Ferber in our August 2010 issue.

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Our July issue, now available at locations across the region, has a feature about solar power in the Hudson Valley. Now comes the news that the award-winning design in SUNY Orange Architecture Club’s annual design competition went to a solar-powered bus shelter:

NEW WINDSOR — When is a bus shelter more than a bus shelter? When it’s a solar-powered, off the grid, sustainable bus shelter. Joseph J. Minuta, Registered Architect, of New Windsor, is proud to announce that Bradley Cashin, an intern at Minuta Architecture, had the award-winning design in SUNY Orange Architecture Club’s annual design competition.

Here’s an article describing the competition.

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Smoke and mirrors

Wow. New York State is still somewhere around 5 billion dollars short in the budget, and all lawmakers can do is add another $1.60 to the cigarette tax. How creative.

Ironically cigarette sales have become an important income source, along with gambling games like lotto. Both of these revenue generators hit the poor in greater proportion.

It’s interesting that we are making so much off of “vices.” There has been a lot of hand-wringing lately about our “addiction” to oil. So why all the resistance to a gasoline tax? Think how much would be generated by a national tax of, say, $2 per gallon. And how that would speed along development of alternative sources of energy.

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 As if we didn’t have enough on our plates (in our glasses?) to worry about, a report on the state of U.S. drinking water shows problems on several fronts.

In the past 25 years, American consumption of tap water has dropped by more than 35 gallons per person per year, replaced largely by bottled water and carbonated soft drinks. We now drink more bottled water than milk or juice — nearly 9 billion gallons last year, at a high cost to consumers and the environment.

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