Statement of Colleen Boland on behalf of We Are Seneca Lake presented as part of a press conference on the need to evaluate cumulative health Impacts of shale gas development, hosted by health professionals and residents impact by fracking infrastructure
Legislative Office Building, Albany, New York, April 27, 2015
Good morning. My name is Colleen Boland with We Are Seneca Lake, a civil disobedience campaign that seeks to halt a gas storage project by the Texas-based company, Crestwood Midstream.
Crestwood intends to turn the Seneca Lake into the Northeast “hub” for the storage and transportation of natural gas and liquefied propane and butane.
Crestwood plans to store these fracked gases in crumbling, lakeside salt caverns that feed the pipelines described here today.
The risks for us include derailment of tank cars; compressor station emissions; and catastrophic collapse, as has occurred in at least 10 other salt caverns used for gas storage. Pressurizing these caverns also risks pushing brine into Seneca Lake, which is a source of drinking water for 100,000 people in 4 counties.
Public opposition runs deep. 24 regional municipalities have passed resolutions against LPG storage, and there have been 235 arrests for acts of non-violent protest against methane storage.
Dr. Zucker, I urge you to investigate the health impacts of the Seneca Lake gas storage facility.
I am a retired Air Force sergeant who has served my county in the White House. I have also served 8 days in jail for my own act of peaceful protest against Crestwood. It takes a very egregious threat to my homeland compel me to take such a step. Turning Seneca Lake into a gas station for fracking is such a threat.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contacts: Roger Downs
Susan Van Dolsen
Health Professionals, Elected OFFICIALS and Impacted Residents URGE Governor Cuomo and State Agencies to Evaluate Cumulative Health Impacts of Shale Gas DEVELOPMENT
(Albany, New York), April 27, 2015 Health professionals, impacted residents, elected officials and advocates from across the state came to Albany today to urge Governor Cuomo, Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Martens and Department of Health Commissioner Zucker to employ a consistent policy of evaluating the health impacts of the full lifecycle process of shale gas development amidst growing scientific evidence of potential risks. They request that the Governor and state agencies conduct an independent, transparent, cumulative Health Impact Assessment (HIA) with public participation, to fully evaluate and address the impacts of the build-out of extensive gas infrastructure in New York State. The infrastructure includes, but is not limited to, pipelines, compressor stations, gas-fired power plants, metering and regulating stations, pigging stations and gas processing and storage facilities. The NYSDEC must withhold permit decisions until the HIA is completed and fully considered.
In December 2014, Governor Cuomo made the decision not to permit High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing in the state. This decision placed particular emphasis on the right and responsibility of the Executive, along with state agencies, to first and foremost safeguard public health and safety. Mounting evidence from a growing number of peer-reviewed scientific studies links gas infrastructure to significant adverse health impacts. These same studies formed, in part, the basis for the conclusion to prohibit High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing (HVHF) in New York State by Commissioner Zucker and Martens. As Commissioner Zucker stated, “The public health impacts from HVHF activities could be significantly broader than just those geographic locations where the activity actually occurs, thus expanding the potential risk to a large population of New Yorkers.”
Evaluation of the direct impacts on local residents and downwind communities, as well as cumulative impacts on our regional air quality must be considered. Dr. David Carpenter, Director, Institute for Health and the Environment at the State University of New York-Albany said, “The most urgent problem in New York right now is the expansion of pipelines bringing Pennsylvania natural gas across New York to New England. This involves placing a compressor station about every 50 miles, and studies show that the greatest releases of toxic gases come from compressor stations, even more than the fracking wells.”
New Yorkers in impacted areas are already exhibiting symptoms that occur from exposure to toxic air emissions from compressor stations and other pipeline infrastructure. Implementation of baseline and continuous monitoring protocols and health studies must be implemented for existing infrastructure operations. “Compressor stations emit massive quantities of criteria pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are linked to cardiovascular and lung disease, cancer and other significant health impacts,” said Dr. Sheila Bushkin-Bedient.
Commissioner Zucker also described uncertainties due to new issues such as high levels of radioactivity in Marcellus Shale formations and cited several studies recommending that the state should exercise the precautionary principle pending the results of such important studies. “Radioactive contaminants are prevalent throughout the entire lifecycle of shale gas development, production and distribution including drilling, waste management, pipelines, compressor stations, metering and regulating stations and pigging stations that provide multiple pathways of exposure to workers and residents across the state,” said Ellen Weininger, Director of Educational Outreach at Grassroots Environmental Education and a Co-Founder of SAPE.
New York State must raise the bar by instituting a State Implementation Plan (SIP) that is more rigorous than the EPA’s federal requirements, which often fail to fully safeguard public health. For example, the National Ambient Air Quality Standards offer inadequate public health protections. Yearly averages fail to account for exposure to significant spikes in concentration of air pollutants during accidental or planned blowdown events and other routine operations. Pramilla Malick of Minisink said, “The EPA only provides a minimum standard in the Clean Air Act which does not restrict the state’s authority to develop stronger air quality regulations. If New York State recognizes that shale gas development is hazardous to our health, then the DEC has the moral and legal obligation to adopt standards and requirements that are more stringent, such as 24 hour air monitoring, a more comprehensive definition of cumulative analysis, and greater compliance protocols.”
New Yorkers from across the state, including representatives from Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy, Catskill Mountainkeeper, Center for Sustainable Rural Communities, Community Watersheds Clean Water Coalition, Concerned Health Professionals of New York, Concerned Residents of Carmel & Mahopac, Concerned Residents of Windsor, Earthworks, Grassroots Environmental Education, League of Women Voters of New York State, Physicians for Social Responsibility—New York, Occupy the Pipeline, Protect Orange County, Reynolds Hills, Inc., PAUSE, Sane Energy Project, SEnRG, Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter, Stop the Algonquin Pipeline Expansion (SAPE), Stop the Minisink Compressor Station, Stop the Pipeline (Constitution), We Are Seneca Lake, Keep Yorktown Safe, and others, believe that the cumulative and synergistic impacts of all of these projects on our shared resources—our air, our water, our soil and our food—must be fully evaluated.