Letter to the Editor: Forensic consultant to speak at Plymouth board meeting Monday


Plymouth Friends of Clean Water has asked William C. Fischer, a Forensic Consultant, formerly with the New York State Police, to present comments to the August 13th Plymouth Town Board Meeting. He has been a licensed private investigator in New York and Pennsylvania and is qualified to give expert testimony in state and U.S. District courts on accident reconstruction, bloodstain interpretation and police procedure at both civil and criminal trials.

He submitted a number of comments on the DSGEIS to the DEC, including one on compulsory integration and another revealing that the authors of the DSGEIS were not DEC personnel but were instead industry consultants.

In 2009 he and his wife moved back to Silver Lake, PA his boyhood vacation home, intending to retire there. But high volume shale gas drilling and hydrofracking soon forced them back to New York State. As a refugee from the gas fields of Pennsylvania, he can state from personal experience that the movie Gasland is accurate. He knows many of the people in the movie. They were his neighbors.

“It is the totality of the extractive industrial process, the wellbore casing failures, surface spills, intentional dumping of untreatable fracking fluids, flaring (open burning) of toxic fluids, and the release of massive amounts of volatile organic chemicals that poison the air, the surface waters, the aquifers, the animals and the people.”

In Plymouth we have presented testimony and conveyed important documents to the Town Board from outside experts such as Toshia Hance, David Slottje, Esq, Vera Scroggins and Craig Stevens, witnesses to intensive fracking in Susquehanna County, PA, Craig and Julie Sautner, whose water is still contaminated by Cabot Oil and Gas, Dr. Katherine Beinkafner, hydrogeologist, who addressed the dangers of long term toxic fluid migration from fracked layers to the surface, contaminating aquifers along the way, Kelly Branigan, nurse and real estate agent of Middlefield and married to an emergency room doctor who works in the heavily impacted gas drilling area of Bradford County, PA, Dr. Ronald Bishop who addressed his findings that Dimock water is still not safe to drink, contrary to an EPA press release and Julie Huntsman, veterinarian and Otsego Councilwoman who presented each of the Plymouth Council with hard copies of the Bamberger/Oswald study, IMPACTS OF GAS DRILLING ON HUMAN AND ANIMAL HEALTH.

The proposal to pass a “we trust the DEC” resolution was apparently presented to the Plymouth board by landowner coalition people several months ago. Such a resolution promising that a town will not pass a moratorium or ban and will trust only the DEC to protect its citizens’ health and safety is unacceptable for a number of reasons.

The fact that the DEC colluded with the industry by releasing its last proposed generic environmental impact study to Tom West, chief lobbyist for Chesapeake Energy, a full six weeks before releasing it to the public, casts doubt on the DEC’s honesty and fairness. There are strong indications that West and his gas industry clients made changes to the voluminous document, much of it already padded by gas industry literature. The document released to the public was devoid of any mention of important scientific studies indicating that shale gas drilling and fracking will add to global warming and will also endanger the health of humans and animals.

Documents such as the list of victims harmed by shale gas drilling compiled by the Pennsylvania Alliance for Clean Water and Air (PACWA) should be carefully reviewed by all town board members. pennsylvaniaallianceforcleanwaterandair.wordpress.com/the-list/

An INDEX OF THE DIGEST OF INDEPENDENT SCIENCE ON HYDROFRACKING, recently sent to the Governor, contains a number of documents ignored by the last DEC DSGEIS or published since its release. www.grassrootsinfo.org/frackingdigest.html

Testimony by scientists, doctors, environmental lawyers and experts in the field of shale gas fracking at the recent Hydrofracking Forum held by Senator Tony Avella should also be reviewed. www.ustream.tv/recorded/24076195 www.ustream.tv/recorded/24078665

It is absolutely essential that the Plymouth Town Council remember that over 600 of their constituents have signed a petition asking them to pass a ban on shale gas drilling and fracking. A moratorium would allow all citizens time to review in more detail the advisability of banning this highly industrialized, toxic process that cannot be made safe by DEC regulations.

Chip Northrup, a former oil and gas executive and investor said: “’Frack us’ resolutions put towns at risk - by not exercising the town's right to adopt a road protection or land use protection plan. The DEC has already said they take these resolutions as indication of the town’s willingness to be fracked. From a liability standpoint, they are worse than doing nothing. No town out West would so something this foolish.

“The DEC cannot protect any roads. The DEC will not protect any land uses and no local water sources. The DEC can and will compel homeowners into gas well spacing units. Absent local ordinances, your town is unprotected.” www.scribd.com/doc/100132075/New-York-s-Nonexistent-Environmental-Agency

Walter Hang wrote about Gov. Cuomo’s plans to limit fracking to five Southern Tier Counties and more specifically to communities that express support for the technology…. “It is worth noting that [there are] more than 25,000 signatories to two key coalition letters who have supported the principle of "equal protection" from shale gas fracking hazards for all New Yorkers.

“The Joint Landowners Coalition of New York has two competing coalition letters supporting "...developing the natural gas reserves that underlie New York State in the Marcellus Shale formation immediately." and "...exploring for clean-burning natural gas."

“I was shocked to learn that those letters only have a total of … 221 and 155 signatories, respectfully. JLCNY's grassroots citizen support is virtually non-existent.” www.jlcny.org/site/index.php/tool-box/petitions

Shale gas drilling and fracking is neither safe nor responsible. A DEC SGEIS will never achieve safety or responsibility because the DEC Division of Oil and Gas is a creature of the industry, owing its existence and purpose to permitting gas wells. The DEC’s record of failing to protect people from water contamination has been documented by Walter Hang in the Bixby Hill Rd water contaminations, the Eddy water contamination, the Farrugia water contamination and many other leaks and explosions. The DEC did not require the offending companies to clean up the water, assuming that could have been done, and it did not even require the drillers to bring replacement water. The only partial remediation for New Yorkers victimized by the oil and gas industry has been and will be the courts. Drillers can drag that process out for years, denying all responsibility along the way. The safe and responsible way to deal with the dangers of shale gas fracking is to ban it.

Peter Hudiburg

Plymouth Friends of Clean Water

South Plymouth, NY

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