FOR SAFE ENERGY
Senate Democratic Hydrofracking Forum July 17,2012
My name is Bruce Ferguson and I work with the all volunteer, not-for-profit, Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy which has ten thousand members in New York State. Thank you for holding this hearing. I also want to thank those Senators who have attempted to pass legislation that would regulate or prohibit fracking. Unfortunately, you - we - have not been successful. Since fracking became an issue over four years ago, the state legislature has failed to pass even a single bill to protect the public. The hazardous waste loophole remains open, there are no funds to pay for a health impact assessment, and we don't have a ban. The inability of the legislature to act in the public interest stands in stark contrast to the treatment that the gas industry received when it was setting the stage for the Marcellus Shale play. Long before the public was aware of it, the industry was preparing to frack New York. Back in 2005, lobbyists drafted an unfair and perhaps unconstitutional compulsory integration bill that enables the industry to cheaply extract gas belonging to property owners who do not want to lease their land. This bill was written by lobbyists, delivered to the legislature by the DEC, and unanimously voted out of both the Assembly and the Senate in just three weeks. What does it say about our democracy that industry lobbyists can write a law and get it passed in three weeks, but four years of urgent appeals by tens of thousands of New Yorkers have not produced a single piece of legislation in the public interest? How did this happen? There's plenty of blame to go around, but I want to consider the role of the DEC's Division of Mineral Resources and its
director, Bradley J. Field. Mr. Field and his division has been a "dishonest broker" for the industry every step of the way. They have made misleading statements, concealed pertinent facts, and lied, in an unrelenting effort to green light high-volume fracking in New York. I first encountered Mr. Field in May 2008 when I went to Albany to lobby against the well-spacing bill that allows the industry to easily amass the large production units necessary for high-volume horizontal fracking. I expected to meet with members of the Assembly, so I was astonished to find myself in a room dominated by Mr. Field and other officials from his division. I was also astonished to hear DEC staff promote a bill with sweeping environmental implications without any regard for either the environment, or public safety. • Although this bill was critical to the industry's plans, the division misleadingly presented it as little more than a technical adjustment that would make it easier for the DEC to do its job. • The Marcellus play, we were told, would be "nothing new"; hydrofracking and horizontal drilling had been going on in New York for years. No mention was made of the fact that Marcellus wells would require millions of gallons of fluid, whereas conventional wells utilized between twenty and eighty thousand gallons. • No mention was made of the fact that slickwater fracturing would employ scores of toxic chemicals that had never been used in traditional nitrogen and foam frack operations. In an email sent to a colleague of mine, the division claimed that "Marcellus Shale fracing operations in NYS used only fresh water, sand, nitrogen and a diluted soapy solution. These frac fluids do not contain benzene, toluene or xylene." This was a lie. Documents f obtained under FOIL show that by the time that this email was written, the industry was already tracking the Marcellus with scores of toxic chemicals. Some of these documents also state that BTX concentrations would be supplied directly to the DEC by chemical suppliers because this was "proprietary information". BTX is, of course, industry shorthand for benzene, toluene and xylene.
To sell the Marcellus, Mr. Field and the division repeated the industry line that in over one million frack jobs there had not been one instance of water contamination. As New York's director of Mineral Resources, Mr. Field knew, or should have known, that EPA first identified water contamination due to fracking as early as 1987 .
• And Mr. Field lied about New York's own drilling safety record. He repeatedly insinuated that the state had an unblemished record, and on one occasion dismissed an accident that utterly destroyed the water supplies for several homes as one where "a bit got stuck and muddied up a bunch of water wells." Walter Hang subsequently FOILed DEC's records and found evidence of more than 270 incidents including drill rig fires, explosions, toxic spills, and contaminated water supplies. Over the years, the Division of Mineral Resources has continued to carry water for the gas industry every step of the way. Anyone who read the first draft of the SGEIS might have thought it was entirely written by lobbyists, and for all I know it was. And the revised draft "Edited and Coordinated by the Division of Mineral Resources" was somewhat better, but it still favors industry misinformation over real science. For example, the revised draft ignores the groundbreaking "Methane and the greenhouse-gas footprint of natural gas from shale formations" by Howarth et at and instead relies on out-dated and inaccurate information downloaded from the Chesapeake Energy website. I recently had the opportunity to collaborate on an article with one of the founders of the environmental movement in New York State, Robert H. Boyle, and I've attached a copy of this article to my written testimony. Let me leave you with one stunning fact uncovered by Mr. Boyle: Bradley J. Field is Signatory to a petition that denies that greenhouse gases are an environmental threat, or that they contribute to global warming. So in other words, in the great state of New York, the man charged with controlling the emissions of greenhouse gases from oil and gas wells doesn't think greenhouse gases are a problem.
Field of Distortions
By Robert H. Boyle and Bruce Ferguson New York State has become ground zero in the battle over high-volume hydraulic fracturing. Drilling permits have been put on hold as the Department of Environmental Conservation promulgates rules to govern this relatively new and inherently dangerous industrial process. Polls show that most New Yorkers wants the state to continue to delay approval of the process, but it now appears that high-volume fracking will be green lighted in a matter of weeks. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has repeatedly stated that "science" will determine the fate of high-volume fracking in the state. Science? How about voodoo science? Scientists know that methane, the main constituent of natural gas, is a potent greenhouse gas, up to 105 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, and the EPA has determined that emissions from natural gas production and transmission are the biggest source of methane pollution in the country. The state Department of Environmental Conservation's Division of Mineral Resources is the lead agency preparing yet another environmental impact statement on high-volume fracking. And the director of that agency is Bradley J. Field, who doesn't believe that global warming, much less methane, is a threat-and he's on record declaring this. Field is a signer of the Global Warming Petition which calls for the United States government to reject any proposed limits on greenhouse gases because "there is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophiC heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate." On the contrary, petition advocates believe, "We are living in an increaSingly lush environment of plants and animals. _. an unexpected and wonderful gift of the Industrial Revolution." Science? How about political science? A petroleum engineer with a B.S. degree from Penn State, Field worked for Getty Oil and Marcithon Oil before joining the DEC, and as the division director, serves as New York's representative to the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission and the Ground Water Protection Council. Based in Oklahoma City, both organizations are industry fronts that push the party line that fracking is benign, and Field follows it to the full. Time and again he has misrepresented facts and withheld crucial information from the state Legislature and the public in order to advance high-volume fracking, and he's been assisted by very clever lobbyists who have been allowed to write rules and regulations that will govern their industry in New Yo~. In 2005, only five weeks after Congress passed the Energy Policy Act, which contained the notorious "Halliburton loophole" that exempted hydrauliC fracking from the Safe Drinking Water Act, the New York State Legislature passed a so-called "Compulsory Integration" bill allowing the industry to extract gas or oil from underneath the land of "uncontrolled" owners who refused to lease their land for drilling. Quickly and unanimously voted out of the Senate and Assembly,
that the DEC found itself on the receiving end of more than 66,000 comments, the vast majority complaining that it ignored a growing body of scientific evidence that high-volume fracking would impact human health, contaminate the air and water supplies, and contribute to climate change. The United States Geological Survey determined that the revised draft failed to address key issues such as groundwater monitoring near well sites and the mapping of principal aquifers. The American Lung Association pointed to "serious deficiencies" in its treatment of air pollution associated with tracking. The revised draft even omitted any reference to the groundbreaking findings by Cornell University's Robert W. Howarth, Renee Santoro,and Anthony Ingraffea. Their peer-reviewed paper reported that fugitive emissions of methane during the extraction and transmission process of shale gas cause an even greater greenhouse gas impact than so-called ~dirty coal. The Cornell scientists didn't even get a phone call from the DEC. It's bad enough for Field to deny the global wanning threat, but it's another thing to thumb his nose at the state's own Climate Action Plan. Overseen by DEC Commissioner Joe Martens, Field's boss, and 14 other state officials, it calls for an BO-percent reduction in 1990 greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, based on scientific studies and data interpretations 'hat analyze the local consequences of ever-rising greenhouse gas concentrations and our changing climate." The plan already is going to cost New Yorkers hundreds of millions of dollars; by ignoring the spirit of the plan and going forward with tracking, Field will cost taxpayers far more than that in the attempt to offset the methane emissions. Isn't anyone watching the store? End this fracking farce. Investigate the DEC and its Division of Mineral Resources now.
A member of Sustainable otsego, Robert H. Boyle is the founder of Riverkeeper and the Hudson River Foundation for Science and Environmental Research. His work as a journalist has
appeared in The New York Times, Life, Smithsonian, Sports Illustrated and others. Bruce Ferguson has Safe Energy.
in broadcast journalism and works with Catskill Citizens for