Take Action to Save State Forests

ROUSE

Take Action!

(1) Submit Written Comments on Gas Drilling in Shindagin Hollow and Danby State Forests
(2) Sign ROUSE’s Statement to Ban Hydraulic Fracturing for Shale Gas Statewide
(3) Sign Town of Caroline Petition Asking Town Board to Ban HF within the Town of Caroline
(4) Medical Professionals Sign-On Letter Opposing High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing
(5) Protest DEC’s Sacrificing of Upstate Water in Favor of Syracuse and NYC Watersheds
(6) Sign a Petition to Ban Shale Gas Drilling in New York State

Also check out the Action Steps at these websites:  NYRAD  Toxics Targeting

NOTE: The handouts on key shale gas drilling topics are now “Fact Sheets” on the “Links to Resources” page, under “Basic Gas Drilling Information.” Click here for a direct link.

(1) Submit Comments on DEC’s Forest Management
Plan that Allows Gas Drilling in Shindagin Hollow
and Danby State Forests

This is very important because it affects the future of state forests in our backyards!  Comments at the public hearing were unanimously opposed to allowing HVHF in state forests.  Now we must build on that by submitting written comments.

Please:  submit written comments (by May 14, 2011, see details below—they can be short!!!)

The Bottom Line:
Below is much information on the documents and commenting, all optional. You would be helping this cause to simply say that you don’t want leasing for gas or oil drilling in Shindagin and Danby State Forests (the “Rapid Waters Management Unit”) because you think the other uses of these forests are more important (list some), and mineral extraction will detract from these uses (you can say in what way). Links to sample comments plus a suit against DEC to force it to remove HVHF as an option in state forests are given below—we will be adding to this list as we receive comments and permission to post them.

In this fight, number of commenters on each side counts. The notice went out on landowner coalition listservs, whose members presumably will be commenting in favor of drilling in these forests

Written Comments: (by email or snail mail)
When:       By May 14, 2011 (NOTE: A week later than posted previously)
Where:     To John Clancy
(Senior Forester, Region 7, and principal author of the management plan)
NYSDEC, Division of Lands and Forests
Attn: John Clancy, 1285 Fisher Ave., Cortland, NY 13045-1090

The Details:
The DEC is developing management plans for state forests, and the draft plan for our area, including Shindagin Hollow State Forest and Danby State Forest, allows “exploration and development of oil and natural gas resources within the Unit’s State Forests.”

Last time the DEC came up with a plan to lease Shindagin (in 2006), public comment opposing it convinced them to NOT lease! This time, the stakes are higher, as gas drilling is more likely. If the forests are leased, our area might be more attractive to drilling companies, and more people might be affected by compulsory integration.

We can stop this again if a LOT of people speak out and send in written comments.
Most important is to have many people opposed, rather than a few people writing long, detailed critiques. Comments can be kept short, although it’s certainly ok if they are longer and more detailed.

Note: this is the general plan allowing them to lease; if a particular area is considered for leasing, there will be another public hearing. But, it’s important to stop this now, before it gets to the next stage.

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Suit Against the DEC

On May 3, 2011, The Croton Watershed Clean Water Coalition, Inc. (CWCWC) announced that they were suing the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) in New York State Supreme Court to declare high-volume hydraulic fracturing in New York State Forests contrary to the New York State Constitution and applicable environmental laws. Click here to see information on the lawsuit.

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Sample Comments:

Sample Comments #1
John Confer

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To see the Draft Management Plan: (the “Rapid Waters DRAFT Unit Management Plan”)

1) Go to the NYS DEC web site http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/72384.html
You can download the Plan in 4 parts from this web site.

2) Go to the Town of Danby web site http://town.danby.ny.us/Documents/RapidWatersMgmtPlan.pdf
The entire document is in one 13.3MB file.

Sections Discussing Gas Leasing/Drilling:
pp. 11-13: Gives an overview of nearby leasing in the past and present, and forest leasing in the future.
pp. 71-73: Objective 3.2: Accept Nominations to Lease Natural Gas Exploration and Development Rights while Protecting Sensitive Areas and Other Management Objectives. Tells how they plan to allow leasing.

Key Gas Drilling Provisions in Plan (pp. 71-73):

(1) Recommends drilling at 1 pad per 320 acres, but does not require this and leaves the door open for more dense drilling in the future.

(2) Sets up a hierarchy of areas within the forests, A, B, C, and D, according to their suitability for drilling. A = most suitable; D = no drilling. It says 56% of the area would be in category D if assessed today, but they don’t actually make any area assessments.

(3) Pipelines will NOT follow the hierarchy, so they could go anywhere DEC decides to allow them.

(4) New roads will be placed “in consideration of the hierarchy,” but at DEC’s discretion.

(5) pp. 119-120 give setbacks for surface disturbance from mineral extraction: 250′ from streams, wetlands, ponds, lakes, seeps, vernal pools (high water line), and recreation trails.

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Info from the last round, in 2006, when leasing was shot down:

►There are insights to be gained by looking at what the Public and DEC said then, and also
you can get many good ideas of what to put in your comments:

The document Response to Public Comments: 2006 State Land Lease Sale discusses the leasing and public input process, and describes and lists the different types of comments made on both sides and responds to them. Definitely worth a skim!

For a few key notes on the 2006 Response to Public Comments document, click here.

For selected excerpts from the 2006 Response to Public Comments document, click here.

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The following are listed as “stewards” of the 2 forests, in the management plan:

AANR Volunteer Stewards State Forest
Bethel Grove Bible Church Shindagin Hollow
Candor Valley Riders Snowmobile Club Shindagin Hollow
Cayuga Trails Club Danby and Shindagin Hollow
Cycle-CNY Shindagin Trail Committee Shindagin Hollow
Finger Lakes Trail Conference Danby and Shindagin Hollow
Friends of Bald Hill Danby
Spencer-Van Etten Snowbmobile Club Danby

If you know someone in one of these groups, please contact them and see if they oppose leasing and are willing to mobilize their group to help protect the forests from drilling.

To protect our local forests, we must come out in force at the April 14th meeting.

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DEC ANNOUNCEMENT ABOUT THE PUBLIC MEETING:

http://www.tcgasmap.org/media/State Forest Leasing DEC Mtg Notice 4-11.pdf

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Comments from Others on the 2010 NYS State Forest Management Plan:
(In late 2010, comments were accepted on this statewide document. Here are comments from Barbara Lifton, the Finger Lakes Land Trust, the Town of Danby, and others, including why gas drilling should not be done in Shindagin and Danby. The same points could be made now. See first item at this link.)

http://www.tcgasmap.org/default.asp?metatags_Action=Find(‘PID’,’49’)#Effects on Forests and Wildlife

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Info on the Impacts of Gas Drilling on Forests and Wildlife:

Effects of Drilling on Wildlife, Forests, and Streams:
The following link is to a new “in press” section of the TCgasmap primer that is not yet on the web. It’s a summary of the most important info on this topic, and contains numerous references. (Ignore underlined links to other sections of the web page for now!)

http://www.tcgasmap.org/media/Wildlife Impacts for State Forest Commenting.pdf

Summaries of articles on how drilling affects wildlife and forests:

http://www.tcgasmap.org/default.asp?metatags_Action=Find(‘PID’,’49’)#Effects on Forests and Wildlife

http://www.tcgasmap.org/default.asp?metatags_Action=Find(‘PID’,’21’)#Effects on Forests and Wildlife

The effects of ground-level ozone (increased by drilling) on trees:
http://wps.prenhall.com/esm_wright_envisci_9/21/5497/1407388.cw/content/index.html
“Through its tissue-damaging effects, ozone also endangers valuable timber stands and fragile wilderness ecosystems. As a component of urban smog, ozone impairs the aesthetics of those systems and creates secondary impacts on urban and wilderness habitats. Such damage is already apparent in urban trees and in parks downwind of major cities around the world.”

Land area affected by each well pad in PA (article summary):
Johnson, Nels. November 15, 2010. “Pennsylvania Energy Impacts Assessment: Report 1: Marcellus Shale Natural Gas and Wind.” http://pa.audubon.org/PDFs/energy_analysis report.pdf
Researchers in PA took aerial photos of 242 well pads in forested areas in the Marcellus shale of Pennsylvania. They digitized the images and measured how much land was cleared for well pads, access roads, pipelines, and water impoundments. They found, on average, that 3.1 acres were cleared for each well pad, and that an additional 5.7 acres were cleared for the associated structures around that well pad (roads, etc.). Then, using well-established research that most edge effects extend at least 330 feet into a forest from the edge, they calculated the additional area disturbed indirectly as 21.2 acres per pad. Thus, each well pad disturbed at least 30 acres! Although Marcellus shale well pads are expected to eventually host 6 to 8 or more wells, these pads only hosted 2 wells, on average, so the disturbance is likely to be much greater in the future. In PA, many drillers are currently developing only a few wells per pad as they rush from pad to pad to establish activity on each lease, which allows them to keep the lease (called held by production) without paying more signing bonuses to landowners or renegotiating terms.

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Excerpts from the 2011 State Forest Management Plan
Covering Shindagin Hollow and Danby State Forest

http://www.tcgasmap.org/media/State Forest Leasing 2011 Rapid Waters Plan Excerpts.pdf

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(2) If you Live in NY State, Sign ROUSE’s Statement:
High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing
should not be Permitted in NY to Extract Shale Gas.

ROUSE (Residents Opposing Unsafe Shale-Gas Extraction) is gathering signatures from all NY residents, and # acres owned from those who own land. The statement will be used to publicly counter the large number of people and acres being tallied by landowner coalitions to push drilling forward. Your name and contact info will be kept confidential upon request at the time of signing.

Click here for more information and a link to signing the statement

Lancaster Online : State geologist discusses Marcellus Shale in talk here

Lancaster Online : State geologist discusses Marcellus Shale in talk here.

State geologist discusses Marcellus Shale in talk here
Posted:  03/10/2011 11:17 PM
Caption: “In this file photo, a natural gas drill sits atop a ridge near Knoxville, Pa.”Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania will not be denied, predicts the man responsible for natural gas leases in state forests and state parks. 

“The reason Pennsylvania is hot, hot, hot is because we potentially have the largest gas field on planet Earth in Pennsylvania, situated in the middle of the largest integrated gas market on planet Earth. Transportation costs are virtually nil. You couldn’t ask for any better situation,” said Teddy Borawski, chief oil and gas geologist for the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

“This thing is going to go on for 50 years,” Borawski said, adding that Marcellus natural gas from Pennsylvania alone could supply all the country’s needs for 20 to 25 years.

Controversy swirls around aspects of the just-taking-hold natural gas boom in Pennsylvania. But Borawski predicts the northern and western portions of the state will become pocked with gas wells over the next five decades.

Specifically, he said, the number of wells to be drilled on both public and private land will increase from about 6,400 wells today to 120,000 wells, perhaps even 180,000.

He said he thinks that can be done safely, with constant vigilance.

And the manager of subsurface programs for the state Bureau of Forestry made some other bold predictions, such as Williamsport rivaling Philadelphia and Pittsburgh as an economic hub in the state.

Also, he said, the extent of the Marcellus Shale reservoir of gas, and other untapped formations here and in other states, will move the United States to a natural gas-driven economy.

“Because it’s there and it’s going to be cheap and plentiful,” he said.

Borawski gave an hour-plus rundown on Marcellus Shale on Thursday in Neffsville before about 50 attentive members of the Pennsylvania Dutch Chapter of the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters Society.

Among the audience were at least two representatives of out-of-state energy companies currently operating Marcellus Shale wells in Pennsylvania.

Borawski’s former boss, former DCNR secretary John Quigley, said last August that the 2.2-million-acre state forestlands couldn’t withstand any more gas pads without environmental damage.

Asked about that, Borawski replied, “I have no comment I can make.”

But referring to a de facto hold on additional gas leases on public land that former Gov. Ed Rendell made in the last few months of his administration, Borawski said Rendell “wanted to push companies as hard as he could” in seeking a severance tax on gas drilling.

Gov. Tom Corbett has removed those roadblocks, is opposed to a severance tax, and wants to get gas extraction running full-tilt.

Borawski did say he hoped Corbett doesn’t seek “wholesale leasing” of gas on state forests. There is room for expansion and to generate revenue for state coffers, he said. “We can do that, but let us do that on our own terms. But we’re subject to what the governor tells us to do.”

Borawski, who has been involved with oil drilling on the Gulf Coast, was asked about the recent documentary “Gasland,” an Academy Award-nominated documentary made partially in Pennsylvania that portrays drilling as harmful to the environment and residents.

“Joseph Goebbels would have been proud,” Borawski replied. “He would have given him the Nazi Award. That, in my opinion, was a beautiful piece of propaganda.”

Borawski also was asked about a recent New York Times series of stories that painted a picture of lax environmental laws and enforcement in Pennsylvania regarding Marcellus Shale drilling.

“It confused the situation and was very poorly written technically,” Borawski said.

But he said the story raised legitimate issues about water concerns.

Water needed for gas drilling will not cause water shortages anywhere and currently uses much less than the state’s golf courses, he said.

But, he added, “Where we have a problem is where you are taking it from and when you are taking it. And flowback being treated.”

He said state regulators will have to remain vigilant in protecting the state’s water resources because if unguarded there always will be companies looking to take shortcuts.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency is doing a study on the impacts of hydraulic fracking and will use Bradford and Susquehanna counties as study areas.

acrable@lnpnews.com

By: AD CRABLE

NYS State Forest Management Plan Finalized

NYS State Forest Management Plan Finalized

This plan and generic environmental impact statement (GEIS) will guide the future management of the state’s 786,329-acre State Forest holdings. Key goals focus on ecosystem health and diversity, economic benefits, recreational opportunities, forest conservation and sustainable management.

The plan was presented in draft form on September 1, 2010. The draft plan was available for public comment until October 29th. Comments were also received and considered after the deadline. Over 3,000 written comments were received. Nine public hearings were held throughout the state from September 14th – 30th.

The plan has been edited based on public input and is now considered final DEC Office of Natural Resources policy for the development of State Forest Unit Management Plans. A responsiveness document will be posted on this website, and will include DEC’s responses to the many comments received.*** Revision of the plan is scheduled to occur every 10 years.  it is not up as of this writing

Notice of Acceptance of Final GEIS

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC), as lead agency, has accepted a Final Generic Environmental Impact Statement on the proposed Final Strategic Plan for State Forest Management. Electronic copies of the Final Strategic Plan and Final GEIS are available online at: www.dec.ny.gov/lands/64567.html or by requesting a CD by e-mail at stateforestplan@gw.dec.state.ny.us or by calling NYS DEC regional offices.

NYS DEC announces the completion of the Final Strategic Plan for State Forest Management (Plan) and Final Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS). This notice has been prepared in accordance with Article 8 of the Environmental Conservation Law. NYS DEC held public hearings in each NYS DEC administrative region on the Draft Plan, released September 1, 2010 and accepted public comments until October 29, 2010. These hearings also served as public hearings on the Draft GEIS pursuant to the applicable SEQR Act (6NYCRR §617.9(a)(4)).

The final Plan is an update and revision of the Draft Strategic Plan for State Forest Management which includes identifications of future management goals for NYS DEC administered State Forests. It establishes statewide management guidelines for NYS DEC staff through a process of public involvement and review. The plan provides a foundation for the development of Unit Management Plans (UMPs), which set forth the specific actions to be undertaken by NYS DEC on individual State Forests. As individual UMPs are developed, this plan will serve as a guide and will be included by reference. This plan will be revised at least once every ten years.

This Plan describes how State Forests will be managed in a sustainable manner by promoting ecosystem health, enhancing landscape biodiversity, protecting soil productivity and water quality. In addition, State Forests will continue to provide the many recreational, social and economic benefits valued so highly by the people of New York State. NYS DEC will continue the legacy which started 80 years ago, leaving these lands to the next generation in better condition than they are today.

Five goals were developed for the management of State Forests. These goals were based on the criteria developed in the Montreal Process and are as follows:

  • Goal 1, to provide healthy and biologically diverse ecosystems;
  • Goal 2, to maintain human-made State Forest assets;
  • Goal 3, to provide recreational opportunities for people of all ages and abilities;
  • Goal 4, to provide economic benefits to the people of the State; and
  • Goal 5, to provide a legal framework for forest conservation and sustainable management of State Forests.

Activities that have the potential to cause significant adverse impacts were addressed and include: increased public recreational use, facility development, prescribed fire, silvicultural activities, oil and gas drilling and control of competing vegetation and invasive species. Potential impacts were further discussed in the Draft GEIS including soil erosion, damage to vegetation, increased smoke and associated odors, surface and groundwater effects and effects of pesticides on the environment, including non-target species. The final Plan discusses all of these potential impacts and describes recommended management activities and mitigation measures to minimize potential impacts.

Contact: Justin Perry, NYS DEC – Division of Lands and Forests, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4255, Phone: (518) 402-9436 begin_of_the_skype_

highlighting              (518) 402-9436      end_of_the_skype_highlighting, E-mail: japerry@gw.dec.state.ny.us.

Comments on:Final DEC Strategic Plan for Forest Management

Comparison of draft and final Strategic Plans for forest Management–Jim Weiss

The Strategic Plan for State Forest Management has been released by NYSDEC.
From the executive summary: Mineral Resources

  • The leasing and development of natural gas and oil resources can provide jobs and income to
  • the State while increasing domestic energy supplies. Oil and natural gas are valuable resources
  • which can provide energy and revenue, as well as the opportunity for improvements to the
  • existing infrastructure of the State Forests (such as improving access through upgrading existing
  • roads, culverts and gates).
  • As with any other human activity on State lands, oil and natural gas exploration and
  • development can impact the environment. The biggest risks from natural gas exploration and
  • development are potential impacts on underground aquifers and residential water wells in the
  • immediate area of drilling. While techniques used today are far more advanced and protective
  • of ground water, there are still risks   as with almost any construction or development project.
  • The Department will incorporate all available technologies and methods to reduce these risks.
  • Emerging issues include disposal by injection and carbon capture.  Neither of these activities is
  • currently taking place on State Forest lands.
  • Recommended actions include:
  • • Apply a hierarchical approach that classifies areas of each State Forest into specific
  • categories.
  • • Adapt the draft guidance for pipelines on State Forests to the DEC policy system and
  • expanding it to include guidance on strategies for dealing with existing pipeline corridors
  • and establishment of new pipeline corridors.  If the issue of existing unauthorized
  • pipelines cannot be sufficiently addressed at the policy level, propose legislation to
  • resolve the issue.
  • • Finalize and adopt the current draft policy on seismic exploration.
  • • Adopt policies addressing disposal by injection and carbon capture and sequestration.
  • • Adopt a policy on tract assessments for oil and gas leasing, based on mineral character
  • and expected mineral activity, site condition, and public use.
  • • Adopt a policy on water use for oil and gas extraction, based on information in theDivision of Mineral Resources GEIS
  • Starting on page 226 of Chapter 5 you will find the portion relating to hydrofracking.  The concerns raised by the public seem to have at least been considered on page 331 which the following link will take you to: Click here: Chapters 5-7 + Appendices Starting on page 226 of Chapter 5 you will find the portion relating to hydrofracking.  The concerns raised by the public seem to have at least been considered on page 231 which the following link will take you to: Click here: http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/lands_forests_pdf/spsfmfinal3.pdf . Text of Mineral Resources section: https://gdacc.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/final-plan-mineral-resources.pdf

    Pipelines:

    The document appears to have sidestepped an important pipeline issue:  The DEC correctly points to the PSC (Public Service Commission ) as the controlling authority for lines that are outside the wellpad.

    However, the plan sidesteps when it come to handling the pipeline ROW (right of way). On non-state forest land this is handled in one of two ways: a) by a formal easement with the landholder or, b) thru an eminent domain (condemnation) procedure (whereby the ROW is “taken”, presumeaby against the owner’s wishes and the owner is compensated.

    Eminent domain applies in two cases: a) the pipeline is between states and the authority is federal (by Federal Energy Regulatory Commission , FERC), lines permitted by FERC carry emminent domain authority. b) within state lines, these carry eminent domain authority IF the Co. has Public Utility status.

    Now, what’s the pipeline deal in the forests?  will the state negotiate for ROWs, or will it require eminent domain authority in which case the Co will, in conjunction with the PSC or FERC, determine the routing (in this case DEC will NOT be a controlling entity, but presumeably consulted)?

    Remember, no wells without pipelines.


     

    DEC Strategic Plan for State Forest Management (DRAFT)

    This draft plan and generic environmental impact statement (GEIS) will guide the future management of the state’s 786,329-acre State Forest holdings and is being made available for public review and comment. Key goals focus on ecosystem health and diversity, economic benefits, recreational opportunities, forest conservation and sustainable management.

    Press Release

    Guides to understanding the Strategic Plan:

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    Essay on Impact of Industrial Drilling in State Forests

    Lost in the Woods By Peter Mantius

    BURDETT, Oct. 25 — It’s open season on New York’s state forests.

    State regulators are asking for public comment by Oct. 29 on a proposal to let gas drillers hydrofrack the forests and criss-cross them with construction roads and natural gas gathering lines.

    In Schuyler County alone, this could affect — or decimate — more than 10,000 acres in five state forests: Sugar Hill, Coon Hollow, Cinnamon Lake, Beaver Dam and Goundry Hill.

    Most of this land was acquired about 80 years ago for about $4 an acre. The forests are used by hikers, hunters, horseback riders, snowmobilers and others.

    The idea of industrializing any portion of them would appear to violate both the spirit and the letter of the Depression-era laws passed to assemble and protect them. Those special woodlands, the laws said, shall be “forever devoted to reforestation and the establishment and maintenance thereon of forests for watershed protection, the production of timber and for recreation and kindred purposes.”

    The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation apparently isn’t worried about every fine point in dusty old statutes.

    Applying an extraordinarily broad legal interpretation, the agency is prepared to expand the list of legal “kindred purposes” to include so called high-volume hydraulic fracturing, toxic wastewater storage in ponds, underground natural gas storage, heavy trucking and widespread road and pipeline construction.

    This comes from the same agency that warns state forest hikers: “Don’t litter! Stay on designated trails. Do not cause damage by heedlessly trampling trail side vegetation.”

    So littering is bad, but hydrofracking is OK? Surely, this agency is lost in the woods. Read more of this post