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Testimony of Bruce Ferguson at Hydrofracking Public Forum (7/18/12)

Testimony of Bruce Ferguson at Hydrofracking Public Forum (7/18/12)

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Published by: New York State Senate Democratic Conference on Jul 23, 2012
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05/13/2014

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CatskillCitizens
FORSAFEENERGY
SenateDemocraticHydrofrackingForumJuly17,2012
MynameisBruceFergusonandIworkwiththeallvolunteer,not-for-profit,CatskillCitizensforSafeEnergywhichhastenthousandmembersinNewYorkState.Thankyouforholdingthishearing.IalsowanttothankthoseSenatorswhohaveattemptedtopasslegislationthatwouldregulateorprohibitfracking.Unfortunately,you-we-havenotbeensuccessful.Sincefrackingbecameanissueoverfouryearsago,thestatelegislaturehasfailedtopassevenasinglebilltoprotectthepublic.Thehazardouswasteloopholeremainsopen,therearenofundstopayforahealthimpactassessment,andwedon'thaveaban.TheinabilityofthelegislaturetoactinthepublicintereststandsinstarkcontrasttothetreatmentthatthegasindustryreceivedwhenitwassettingthestagefortheMarcellusShaleplay.Longbeforethepublicwasawareofit,theindustrywaspreparingtofrackNewYork.Backin2005,lobbyistsdraftedanunfairandperhapsunconstitutionalcompulsoryintegrationbillthatenablestheindustrytocheaplyextractgasbelongingtopropertyownerswhodonotwanttoleasetheirland.Thisbillwaswrittenbylobbyists,deliveredtothelegislaturebytheDEC,andunanimouslyvotedoutofboththeAssemblyandtheSenateinjustthreeweeks.Whatdoesitsayaboutourdemocracythatindustrylobbyistscanwritealawandgetitpassedinthreeweeks,butfouryearsofurgentappealsbytensofthousandsofNewYorkershavenotproducedasinglepieceoflegislationinthepublicinterest?Howdidthishappen?There'splentyofblametogoaround,butIwanttoconsidertheroleoftheDEC'sDivisionofMineralResourcesandits
 
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director,Bradley
J.
Field.Mr.Fieldandhisdivisionhasbeena"dishonestbroker"fortheindustryeverystepoftheway.Theyhavemademisleadingstatements,concealedpertinentfacts,andlied,inanunrelentingefforttogreenlighthigh-volumefrackinginNewYork.IfirstencounteredMr.FieldinMay2008whenIwenttoAlbanytolobbyagainstthewell-spacingbillthatallowstheindustrytoeasilyamassthelargeproductionunitsnecessaryforhigh-volumehorizontalfracking.IexpectedtomeetwithmembersoftheAssembly,soIwasastonishedtofindmyselfinaroomdominatedbyMr.Fieldandotherofficialsfromhisdivision.IwasalsoastonishedtohearDECstaffpromoteabillwithsweepingenvironmentalimplicationswithoutanyregardforeithertheenvironment,orpublicsafety.Althoughthisbillwascriticaltotheindustry'splans,thedivisionmisleadinglypresenteditaslittlemorethanatechnicaladjustmentthatwouldmakeiteasierfortheDECtodoitsjob.TheMarcellusplay,weweretold,wouldbe"nothingnew";hydrofrackingandhorizontaldrillinghadbeengoingoninNewYorkforyears.NomentionwasmadeofthefactthatMarcelluswellswouldrequiremillionsofgallonsoffluid,whereasconventionalwellsutilizedbetweentwentyandeightythousandgallons.Nomentionwasmadeofthefactthatslickwaterfracturingwouldemployscoresoftoxicchemicalsthathadneverbeenusedintraditionalnitrogenandfoamfrackoperations.Inanemailsenttoacolleagueofmine,thedivisionclaimedthat"MarcellusShalefracingoperationsinNYSusedonlyfreshwater,sand,nitrogenandadilutedsoapysolution.Thesefracfluidsdonotcontainbenzene,tolueneorxylene."Thiswasalie.Documents
f
obtainedunderFOILshowthatbythetimethatthisemailwaswritten,theindustrywasalreadytrackingtheMarcelluswithscoresoftoxicchemicals.SomeofthesedocumentsalsostatethatBTXconcentrationswouldbesupplieddirectlytotheDECbychemicalsuppliersbecausethiswas"proprietaryinformation".BTXis,ofcourse,industryshorthandforbenzene,tolueneandxylene.
 
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ToselltheMarcellus,Mr.Fieldandthedivisionrepeatedtheindustrylinethatinoveronemillionfrackjobstherehadnotbeenoneinstanceofwatercontamination.AsNewYork'sdirectorofMineralResources,Mr.Fieldknew,orshouldhaveknown,thatEPAfirstidentifiedwatercontaminationduetofrackingasearlyas1987.AndMr.FieldliedaboutNewYork'sowndrillingsafetyrecord.Herepeatedlyinsinuatedthatthestatehadanunblemishedrecord,andononeoccasiondismissedanaccidentthatutterlydestroyedthewatersuppliesforseveralhomesasonewhere"abitgotstuckandmuddiedupabunchofwaterwells."WalterHangsubsequentlyFOILedDEC'srecordsandfoundevidenceofmorethan270incidentsincludingdrillrigfires,explosions,toxicspills,andcontaminatedwatersupplies.Overtheyears,theDivisionofMineralResourceshascontinuedtocarrywaterforthegasindustryeverystepoftheway.AnyonewhoreadthefirstdraftoftheSGEISmighthavethoughtitwasentirelywrittenbylobbyists,andforallIknowitwas.Andthereviseddraft"EditedandCoordinatedbytheDivisionofMineralResources"wassomewhatbetter,butitstillfavorsindustrymisinformationoverrealscience.Forexample,thereviseddraftignoresthegroundbreaking
"Methaneandthegreenhouse-gasfootprintofnatural
gas
fromshaleformations"
byHowarthetatandinsteadreliesonout-datedandinaccurateinformationdownloadedfromtheChesapeakeEnergywebsite.IrecentlyhadtheopportunitytocollaborateonanarticlewithoneofthefoundersoftheenvironmentalmovementinNewYorkState,RobertH.Boyle,andI'veattachedacopyofthisarticletomywrittentestimony.LetmeleaveyouwithonestunningfactuncoveredbyMr.Boyle:Bradley
J.
FieldisSignatorytoapetitionthatdeniesthatgreenhousegasesareanenvironmentalthreat,orthattheycontributetoglobalwarming.Soinotherwords,inthegreatstateofNewYork,themanchargedwithcontrollingtheemissionsofgreenhousegasesfromoilandgaswellsdoesn'tthinkgreenhousegasesareaproblem.

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