Brewery Opposes Hydrofracking
November 20, 2010 1 Comment
Brewery Ommegang Statement on Hydrofracking for Shale Gas.
Serious threat of water pollution and other environmental risks for Otsego County.
Revised: Jan 18, 2011
Contact: Larry Bennett, 607-544-1800, or firstname.lastname@example.org Executive Order
NOTE: This is an update of the Brewery Ommegang statement originally released on Nov 19, 2010.This update
follows then-Governor Paterson’s December 13, 2010 veto of the moratorium proposed by the NY State Assembly
and Senate, and his issuing of Executive Order No. 41. On Jan 1, 2011 incoming New York State Governor Cuomo
continued Executive Order No. 41without change. The Executive Order is attached.
Brewery Ommegang has completed a close examination of the development of hydrofracking for natural gas in Otsego
County. We reviewed extensive information provided by gas industry professionals, publications and supporters of
hydrofracking who propose that drilling is safe, necessary, and will be an economic boost to Otsego County. We also
reviewed information from gas industry professionals who are opponents of hydrofracking, as well as environmental and
historic groups who contend that the permitting procedure is flawed; drilling is not safe; our water is endangered; and
economic benefits will not be realized. We have endeavored to be objective in our analysis and we will make available the
information we have gathered to anyone who is interested in understanding both sides of the argument.
We have concluded that:
1. The gas industry has secured broad exemptions from federal regulation under the Clean Water Act and the Safe
Drinking Water Act in 2005 (also known as the “Halliburton exemption”). However, the EPA has recently begun a
study which is scheduled for completion sometime in 2012.
2. Under New York State law, horizontal drilling remains halted (under Exec .Order 41) while the pending Supplemental
Generic Impact Statement (sGEIS) is reviewed. The review is to be completed by June 1, 2011, and then put up for
public comment for at least 30 days. In the interim, drilling of vertical wells with hydro fracking is proceeding in our
county under the 18-year-old 1992 Generic Environmental Impact Statement. Thus, gas companies are now drilling
and fracking in our county without local review, while both state and federal regulatory investigations into the risks and
regulation of the process are delayed.
Land-lease development and proposed drilling in the region has already reached a high level with very limited public
awareness of the issues any without meaningful regulatory control. Over 60,000 acres in Otsego County are known to
have been leased by drilling companies or their land agents, and drilling projects have already started .
The relative contribution of natural gas from hydrofracking to either the economy or the energy needs of the region may be
minimal, and development does not materially contribute to a larger national or regional energy policy.
The number of documented spills, blowouts, leaking wells and other environmental accidents is significant and the
environmental and human consequences have been serious in a number of states, including TX, PA, WY, and WV.
From our perspective, the critical threat is contamination of the aquifers occurring directly above the Marcellus
6. The withdrawal of huge quantities of fresh water estimated at 2-5 million gallons of water per frack cycle and the
heavy impact of thousands of truck trips per well hauling water and chemicals to and from the drill pads cannot be
sustained in Otsego County. Effective treatments of the millions of gallons of polluted processing waste do not exist
and there are no locations for waste disposal in New York capable of supporting the proposed scale of drilling.
Drilling presents a strategic risk to the entire Otsego County water supply and the Susquehanna watershed. Meanwhile,
the NY City watershed (in adjacent counties) is under special coverage by the DEC, effectively creating a protected
zone. This reflects awareness by DEC and NYC officials of potential risks. The protection requires site-specific review
and permitting and has effectively stopped gas exploration inside the NYC watershed. Our region of upstate NY is not
covered by the agreement and it’s now much cheaper to work in counties like ours, where there is no local regulation.
The plans for drilling also pose a direct and material threat to the Ommegang Brewery. We draw water for our beer from
aquifers beneath our 140-acre farmstead located close to Cooperstown, NY, at the head of the Susquehanna
watershed. Contamination of our water supply would end our brewery business and even the threat of potential
contamination could be sufficient for the future of our company to be at risk.
We also join others in concluding that industrial-scale hydrofracking in the beautiful rural upstate region will irreparably
damage the essential qualities that make Otsego County an excellent place to live, raise families, farm and brew beer.
We consider highly visible, potentially dangerous, industrial development as directly opposed to what our rural
location offers the people who have chosen to make their lives here and the millions who choose to visit the region
Call for an immediate moratorium and for an eventual ban on both vertical and horizontal hydrofracking in Otsego County
and NY State. It is not enough to protect only New York City residents’ land, water and health. All upstate residents
and their water, land, health and heritage deserve equal protection under law.
Call for complete reconsideration, rewriting and review of the NY State Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact
Statement (sGEIS) by the Cuomo administration. The current sGEIS is based on outdated and inadequate data.
Support the transfer of control over local hydrofracking from NY State to Otsego County. And for the same all across New
York allowing local communities to determine if they wish to accept the impact on their lives.
Brewery Ommegang will:
Seek to defend the interests of our business, our employees and our community by actively campaigning for the
prevention of hydrofracking in Otsego county and NY state by every available means, including legal action.
Provide practical support for Otsego2000 as the principal focus for a coalition of many environmental and other citizen
groups working to prevent development of hydrofracking in the region. Otsego 2000 is coordinating the coalition of
groups opposing hydrofracking.
Bring together a coalition of other concerned upstate businesses in support of the Otsego2000 campaign.
Petition Otsego County and Otsego County town officials to support a local moratorium and a ban on hydrofracking, and
petition our state government leaders, regulators and other agencies for the same at a statewide level.
Simon Thorpe, President/CEO of Brewery Ommegang said: “Ommegang believes that opposing development of
hydrofracking is critical to the interests of our community, our people and our business. We are proud of our
accomplishment in building a thriving, sustainable and environmentally conscious business in upstate New York. We are
deeply concerned at the threat posed by development of drilling in the region and the risk to the purity of the water on
which we depend, and which is a key reason we are located here. We are a company that enjoys a national reputation for
super-premium quality beers produced in upstate New York and we hope that the state and local regulators attach value
to what we do for the region in terms of employment and our representation of upstate New York in restaurants and
grocery stores across the nation. We do not want the futures of our business, our employees, and our communities
damaged or destroyed by water pollution, or compromised by the industrialization associated with hydrofracking for shale
For further information please contact:
Duvel Moortgat USA / Brewery Ommegang
363, County Highway 33
Cooperstown, NY 13326
Brewery Ommegang is part of the Duvel Moortgat Group of breweries, which were founded in Belgium. It is the group’s
principal brewery in the United States and produces a super-premium range of beers that are distributed across the
country together with the other Duvel Moortgat beers including Duvel, Maredsous, Liefmans, Achouffe and De Koninck.
Issued Dec. 13, 2010 by NY State Governor Paterson:
Executive Order No 41
WHEREAS, the 2009 New York State Energy Plan supports the development of in-State energy resources, including
natural gas, to achieve the Plan’s multiple public policy objectives; and
WHEREAS, low-volume hydraulic fracturing, or conventional fracking, has been used successfully and safely in New York
State for many years to extract natural gas consistent with the Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) for Oil,
Gas and Solution Mining Regulatory Program promulgated by the New York State Department of Environmental
Conservation (Department) in 1992; and
WHEREAS, new technologies have emerged, and are being deployed in other states, to extract natural gas more
efficiently through a process known as high-volume hydraulic fracturing combined with horizontal drilling; and
WHEREAS, there is a need for further study of this new technology prior to deployment in New York State; and
WHEREAS, in 2008, I directed the Commissioner of Environmental Conservation to initiate a formal public process to
update the 1992 GEIS to ensure that any new technologies deployed in New York State are first thoroughly analyzed and
regulated to ensure that all environmental and public health impacts are mitigated or avoided; and
WHEREAS, the Department issued a draft scope for an updated GEIS on October 6, 2008, held public meetings in the
Marcellus shale region, received more than 3,000 written comments, and issued a final scope for the Supplemental
Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) on February 6, 2009. The Department released the Draft SGEIS for
public review and comment on September 30, 2009, held four public hearings in the region and New York City, and
received more than 13,000 written comments during a public comment period that closed December 31, 2009; and
WHEREAS, tens of thousands of citizens, landowners, local governments, large and small businesses, non-governmental
organizations, and other stakeholders have expressed their heartfelt support for or opposition to the new technology, but
most agree that an objective, science-based analysis is the best approach to setting new policy.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, David A. Paterson, Governor of the State of New York, by virtue of the authority vested in me by
the Constitution and laws of the State of New York, do hereby order as follows:
1. The Department shall complete its review of the public comments, make such revisions to the Draft SGEIS that
are necessary to analyze comprehensively the environmental impacts associated with high-volume hydraulic
fracturing combined with horizontal drilling, ensure that such impacts are appropriately avoided or mitigated
consistent with the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA), other provisions of the Environmental
Conservation Law and other laws, and ensures that adequate regulatory measures are identified to protect public
health and the environment; and
2. On or about June 1, 2011, the Department shall publish a Revised Draft SGEIS, accept public comment on the
revisions for a period of not less than thirty days, and may schedule public hearings on such revisions to be
conducted in the Marcellus shale region and New York City; and
3. Recognizing that, pursuant to SEQRA, no permits may be issued prior to the completion of a Final SGEIS, the
Department, subsequent to the conclusion of the public comment period, shall report to the Governor on the
status of the Final SGEIS and the regulatory conditions that are necessary to include in oil and gas well permits
to protect public health and the environment.
G I V E N under my hand and the Privy Seal of the State in the City of Albany this thirteenth day of December in the year
two thousand ten.
BY THE GOVERNOR
Secretary to the Governor
This is a powerful statement on the part of Brewery Omegang.
My prediction is that there will be more of such statements from food and
From my discussions with wholesale buyers of beef, hydrofracking is a big
concern, which is already impacting on purchasing decisions. I’d like to
offer my recent experience.
During a recent meeting with a nutritionist with a large regional
supermarket chain, she mentioned out of the blue that she was avoiding
purchases of meat from northern PA where there is hydrofracking. (I had not
brought up gas drilling, as that was not the original topic of the meeting.)
And from my conversations with my wholesale buyers in NYC and locally (who
are buying whole steers on a regular basis) they are very aware of
hydrofracking. They have expressed deep concern about chemical contamination
of the food they are purchasing and the regional foodshed. They are also
quite clear that they will try to lower the risk of purchasing contaminated
food by avoiding purchases from farms near active gas drilling.
Given what I am hearing from wholesale buyers, it’s hard for me to visualize
my business surviving with gas drilling nearby. As is true of many
sustainable agriculture enterprises, 100% of my overhead, and 100% of my
sales are local, with both upstream and downstream economic multipliers
benefiting other regional business. With the elimination of businesses like
mine, these other enterprises will be harmed as well.