FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 24, 2013
Contact: John Armstrong, firstname.lastname@example.org, 607-220-4632
Good Government Groups, Elected Officials, Anti-Fracking Groups Call on Governor and DEC to Disown Ecology and Environment Work on SGEIS
Thousands of New Yorkers Urge Them to Redo SGEIS With an Independent Firm
Albany, NY – Several State Senators, the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) and New Yorkers Against Fracking today called on Governor Cuomo and DEC Commissioner Martens to disown the work done by Ecology & Environment, Inc. on the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) and scrap the SGEIS due to the company’s conflict of interest. Ecology & Environment was responsible for significant parts of the SGEIS. It recently came to light that Ecology & Environment, Inc. (E&E) is a member of the Independent Oil and Gas Association (IOGA), which is actively engaging in lobbying on fracking.
“Regardless of this firm’s expertise on purely technical matters unrelated to policy formulation, Ecology and Environment’s participation in a trade association and lobbying effort in support of authorizing high volume hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) in New York fundamentally disqualifies the firm and its work for the Revised Draft SGEIS,” said NYPIRG Legislative Counsel Russ Haven.
“We have seen the disastrous consequences of hydrofracking in other states, with tainted water supplies and whole towns and regions blighted. If we rush into this with potentially biased data and risk assessments, we risk the same tragic results,” said Sen. Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan). “Prudence demands we start over with scrupulously transparent and independent examinations of all the dangers, including full seismology and health studies and a full assessment of the risks to our vital upstate agricultural industry. The process so far hasn’t measured up.”
“I don’t know if Ecology & Environment’s report on the economic impact of fracking is biased or not, and that is the problem,” said Senator Gipson. “To make such an important decision on fracking, the environment and economy we need truly independent information.”
“The more we dig into the SGEIS, the fishier it gets,” said Julia Walsh, a spokesperson for New Yorkers Against Fracking. “At least one other company that has worked on the SGEIS is also affiliated with IOGA. The Governor and Commissioner Martens should re-do the SGEIS with a truly independent examination, rather than rely on companies that are involved in organizations that lobby on the issue.”
In the last 24 hours alone, more than 3,000 New Yorkers have sent individual emails to Governor Cuomo and signed a petition that concludes “Governor Cuomo, New Yorkers deserve better. Throw out this industry-biased economic study, seismology study and the SGEIS. Conduct a new, truly independent study that regains the public’s trust and ensures science and facts drive your decision.” New Yorkers
Against Fracking delivered those signatures and comments to Governor Cuomo’s office.
Ecology & Environment, Inc. (E&E) was contracted by the DEC in 2011 to provide analysis of the economic impact of allowing fracking in New York. Following criticism by members of the DEC’s High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing Advisory Panel on the analysis’ examination of the costs of fracking, DEC Commissioner Martens acknowledged the shortcomings of the study and requested additional analysis of the socioeconomic impacts of fracking.
In a follow-up letter to Commissioner Martens, economist Jannette Barth noted that E&E failed to adequately analyze fracking’s impact on home values, home mortgage and insurance eligibility, and the use of eminent domain, as well as the costs of damage to the environment and human health and the costs of repairing highways.
E&E has also been involved in New York State’s seismology study of fracking, which already suffers from a conflict of interest with the lead researcher, Dr. Robert Jacobi, maintaining significant ties to the gas industry.
Senators Tony Avella and Cecelia Tkaczyk raised serious concerns in February about the conflicts of interest plaguing the state’s seismology study and the risks posed by seismic impacts associated with fracking.