*UPDATE* Catskill Citizens Hope to “Doctor” SGEIS
Saturday, September 3, 2011, about 35 people attended a Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy meeting in North Branch, New York for the supposed purpose of reviewing the revised draft of New York State’s SGEIS. For background, this is the same group that is trying to scare New York residents by printing and circulating posters that in no way reflect current production practices and even goes so far as to suggest that practices will be used that are specifically outlawed under the SGEIS. We did a fact check on that here.
This meeting however was focused on delaying the SGEIS at all costs and largely consisted of a presentation by Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter’s Roger Downs who focused mostly on getting as many folks as possible to write letters to the Department of Environmental Conservation in an attempt to delay the SGEIS further. Well, we agree with Governor Cuomo. Now is the time to end these pointless tactics and move forward with finalizing the SGEIS.
During his presentation, Downs instructed attendees to hit certain key points being pushed by his organization and others. These included, incorporating a what could happen under a supposed “worst case scenario.” A large part of the overall message from Downs was essentially begging everyone to “bury” the Department of Environmental Conservation with letters, their stated goal hopefully 100,000, toward the end of the allotted 60 day period to request more time.
When discussing the SGEIS, Downs suggested everyone write personal letters based on each section or chapter of the SGEIS. His rationale is that the DEC will have to take time to read these comments, and the more personal and detailed, the longer it will take for them to sift through the letters. He also told everyone to get a note from their doctors, because, by getting a note from a doctor it will prove natural gas exploration is harmful! He even suggested people write letters and have doctors sign them. From our perspective this sounds like the beginnings of a scam. I remain hopeful that physicians in New York have more integrity and commitment to their oaths than what the anti’s are asking them to do.
So in summary, the meeting was a push to waste the Department of Environmental Conservation’s time (taxpayers money) as well as that of physicians, who on a daily basis are trying to help the public with health issues. Seems like a good strategy that is about par for the course for the “loyal opposition.” Waste far too many public resources with a predictable outcome. Failure.
At one point in the meeting Downs criticized the SGEIS because the “Department of Environmental Conservation chose to use university studies as a resource over the “working class” and the information they provided” – simply unbelievable!
Nevermind the fact the SGEIS is arguably one of the most comprehensive reviews of natural gas extraction in the nation. Conducted over a period of three years utilizing case studies from other states, the experiences and advancement of industry as well as the full resources of the New York state DEC to name just a few. Clearly we shouldn’t rely on this objective criteria but rather should value the word of an anti-development activist who makes outrageous claims that are not based in reality. Of course we are not surprised. It’s just more evidence that the only opinion or research the anti crowd will ever embrace is their own. Regardless of whether or not that information is scientific, proven and from a reputable source. In the case of the anti production crowd rerely do their information or arguments even meet one of these key tests.
By the end of this meeting it became abundantly clear these folks are doing anything in their power to delay the SGEIS by attempting to overwhelm the Department of Environmental Conservation.
What’s the reality? New York can’t wait any longer for the benefits natural gas exploration and production will bring. Report after report have confirmed these findings. Some of the more recent include the Manhattan Institute report that shows natural gas will bring nearly 18,000 jobs to the southern tier and the Business Council of New York which shows natural gas could bring over 35,000 jobs to the Empire State (read more about that here and here). Somehow I’m not sure anyone at this meeting really got how much New York can benefit from natural gas production. They were too focused on their agenda of “doctoring” the SGEIS.
UPDATE: We couldn’t help but notice that, with the release of the full SGEIS, New York State DEC included this suggestion in their statement.
Please note: Some of these are very large documents. Only print them if you really need to, and only those sections that you need. Double side all printing and copying jobs. For every ton of office paper use avoided, greenhouse gas emissions are reduced by more than 8 metric tons.
This is, obviously, commendable but it is precisely the opposite of what Roger Downs of the Sierra Club said at the Catskill Citizens meeting when he told the gathered “environmentalists” to print out the lengthy SGEIS for use as a cited source attachment and as a prop for hearings. He urged the attendees to “this is going to cost a little bit, but everything we cite, we have to print in full and send it to them.” Apparently, their rule is to waste whatever they need to waste to protect nature! Thank goodness DEC is in charge and not the Catskill Citizens.