Category Archives: Gas Drilling Hydro-Fracking

Pro-Junk Anti-Frack! Shannon Hayes’ Radical Homemakers Take on Local Anti-Fracking Laws


“The democratic process is pretty sleepy in my town. Monthly council meetings are conducted by a group of dedicated citizens who talk about unglamorous issues such as road repair, dog warden reports and budget matters. Meetings begin at 7:30pm with relatively few attendees, as many of the citizens tied to the local farming economy are either still outside working, or getting ready to fall into bed. But if you want to wake a sleeping bear, suggest making the local junkyard law more restrictive.

Then you’ll see some angry constituents.
That happened a few months ago, when some members of the community who preferred mowed grass and plastic whirly gigs to scrap metal and recycled lumber piles tried to bring forward a discussion about making our town look a little more “picked up.” That was a decidedly unpopular idea, and neighbors filled our town hall beyond capacity to drive their point home. My family was among them.

We are also among the group of neighbors who have begun a dialogue with council members discussing the need for an anti-fracking law. While the threat may not be as imminent as it is for those folks in the Southern Tier of our state, we feel that proactive measures taken now will protect us as fracking technology changes and the industry expands into our region. A few of our council members remain dubious that such a law would be wanted by our citizenry. How could folks who are pro-junk also be anti-frack? It’s all about self-reliance.

A lot of us keep “treasure” in our yards that someone from a high-end suburb might see as “trash.” But someone from a high-end suburb can collect a six figure salary several times over, pay an urban mechanic to maintain a new car, pay the electric bill to run the dryer for their clothes, pay the clerk at Whole Foods for their “farm fresh eggs,” pay someone else to come in with the necessary tools to maintain their lawns and homes.

But here in the town of Fulton, we depend on our own hands for many of these things. The “junk” in our yards is a resource base from which we can fix our cars, repair our houses, jury-rig a chicken coop, find a spare part to fix a mower, salvage some glass to hob together a cold frame for vegetables. The “junk” represents the tools we need to get by without a lot of income.

Whether it is a junkyard law or an anti-fracking law, the impetus remains the same: We desire legislation that protects our right and need to be self-reliant. Hyrdo-fracking purports to offer some quick cash for a few landholders, but everyone else runs the risk of losing their self-reliance when drinking wells either dry up or the water becomes too polluted to drink. If we no longer have potable water to raise our vegetables, can our tomatoes, make jelly from the wild brambles, or care for our livestock, we’ve lost our ability to take care of ourselves and thrown our well-being at the mercy of government, charity, and the companies who are now in business to haul water to communities that are confronting the fall-out of hydro-fracking.

None of us wants to wind up there. We want our junkyards. We want our anti-fracking laws, too. To live well around here, most of us need to be somewhat self-reliant. Money doesn’t grow on trees around these parts, but fruit does. And vegetables grow in the ground, livestock grow in the pastures, and firewood grows on the hills. If we have clean water to sustain all of it, we’ll have enough food in our bellies, wood in our fires and junk in our backyards to have a great life, regardless of how much money is in our pockets.”


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Filed under Alternative Energy, Gas Drilling Hydro-Fracking, Sustainable Farming, Transition Towns

PASA Asserts Position on Unconventional Gas Extraction Hydro-Fracking

June 12, 2012
Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture Urges a Moratorium on Unconventional Gas Drilling
June 11, 2012

Promoting Profitable Farms that Produce Healthy Food for All
People while Respecting the Natural Environment
Statement on Unconventional Natural Gas Extraction
Adopted: June 11, 2012

PASA asserts its position in favor of a moratorium on unconventional gas extraction, until it is determined that this practice will not impair the ability of farms to profitably produce healthy food while respecting Pennsylvania’s air quality, water resources and the natural environment.

PASA supports:

  • Assuring the highest quality of life for the farming community and the environment in all aspects of natural gas extraction through unbiased, third party studies of the long-term impacts. These studies must assess the impacts on the environment and public health, including an in-depth look at the integrity, health and long term sustainability of our food supply.
  • Establishing baselines, parameters, and comprehensive third party testing of water resources, soil health, air quality and human and animal welfare prior to and after extraction procedures.
  • Requiring drilling companies to post a bond which is held in escrow in their name, payable with interest in the event that there are no negative environmental consequences 5 years after capping the well, to be determined by a certified third party engineer.
  • Developing and moving towards a comprehensive sustainable and renewable energy plan that encourages conservation of our natural resources.
  • Enabling the farming community’s input in decision making regarding the location of natural gas facilities and related pipelines.
  • Requiring fairness and transparency in all stages of exploration, leasing, drilling and production, and recognition and respect of landowners’ rights, including those who do not own subsurface rights. Full disclosure creates trust between landowners, energy companies and land aggregators, and needs to be addressed before additional wells are drilled.
  • Full accountability and fairness in remediation for any negative environmental and/or economic loss to farmers.

PASA recognizes its mission extends far beyond the edge of field and pasture. This work encompasses the development of and education around healthy food systems for both urban and rural communities. Unconventional gas drilling affects local farmers and farms, the food they produce, and the consumers who eat it.

We therefore urge the Governor and Legislature of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to use this moratorium to ensure that the above issues have been addressed and resolved, and to re-evaluate the safety of methods used in natural gas extraction and its potential threat to our watersheds, food safety and the quality of life of farmers.

PASA continues to provide educational programming to support sustainable agriculture practices resulting in economically viable farms. We are committed to maintaining an organization that protects food systems by focusing on our mission of promoting profitable farms that produce healthy food for all people while respecting the natural environment.

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Filed under Alternative Energy, Environment, Gas Drilling Hydro-Fracking, Sustainable Farming

New York Organic Farmers Protest Fracking and Support Ban on Hydro-Fracking Albany January 23.

Environmental groups, including New York farmers rallied in Albany on January 23, 2012 to call for a legislative ban on hydraulic fracturing of natural gas wells, saying that no amount of regulation can make the process safe.

According to today’s article in the Washington Examiner, there are several Bills pending in the New York State Legislature that are likely to pass as activists lobby for the passage of several bills.

On January 20, 2012 at the Annual NOFA-NY Members Meeting at the NOFA-NY Conference in Saratoga Springs  a policy resolution was  passed to ban hydraulic fracturing worldwide. The majority of members felt that there could be no compromise on the issue.

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Filed under CONFERENCE, Environment, Gas Drilling Hydro-Fracking

Permaculture Cottage ~ Beyond Consumerism…Life after Debt.

I found this link to a Permaculture website in Ireland. Halfway around the world, a different culture? Yet so much like our Catskill Hudson Region.

Check it out!

Permaculture Cottage ~ Beyond Consumerism…Life after Debt..


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Filed under Alternative Energy, Environment, Gas Drilling Hydro-Fracking, Sustainable Farming, Transition Towns

Flooding and Fracking A Dangerous Combination TAKE ACTION


Catskill Mountainkeeper alert!
Go to their website to take action.

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Filed under Gas Drilling Hydro-Fracking


July 13, 2011

Commissioner Joe Martens

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
625 Broadway
Albany, New York 12233-0001

Dear Commissioner Martens,

I am writing to you today on behalf of our more than 1,400 organic farming, gardening and consumer members in response to the recent release of the updated SGEIS on the impacts of high volume hydrofracturing in the Marcellus Shale.  We appreciate the lengths to which the DEC staff have gone to review and address comments in revising this important impact statement. However, we do not believe there has been sufficient research on the impacts specifically to the state’s agricultural industry, an industry so crucial to rural economies and community areas targeted for Marcellus Shale development.

As you know, agriculture is one of the largest industries in the state, contributing heavily to New York’s economy and its work force, as nearly one-quarter of the state’s total land area is utilized as farmland.  Much of the land located within the Marcellus Shale region is active farmland, and we believe the impacts to farmers, farmland, the farm economy and food production has not been adequately studied at this point.

DEC staff, members of the Advisory Council and the consultant hired to prepare the Socio-Economic study lack the level of agricultural expertise necessary to fully assess the impacts to New York’s farming industry.

Therefore, on behalf of our members and the undersigned agriculture-related organizations, we ask the DEC to hire a consultant to assess the impacts of the permitting of high volume horizontal hydrofracturing on agriculture and the state’s irreplaceable farmland resources . As is the case with the other components of the revised draft SGEIS, this study of impacts on agriculture and farmland protection should be prepared and released to the public in advance of the official public comment period, so that the farmers of the region can properly assess its accuracy and completeness.

We ask that an Agricultural and Farmland Protection Impacts Study be produced including, but not limited to, consideration of the following:

  1. Statistics on the total estimated acreage and percent of farmland in the region that will be impacted-likely to be taken out of production due directly to gas infrastructure development (i.e., farmland lost due to drilling pads, pipelines, access roads, compressor stations, chemical, water, waste and equipment storage areas and other infrastructure). These statistics should be based on a cumulative, or “built-out” basis.

The current draft SGEIS calls for pre- and post-testing of water wells used for human drinking water in the vicinity of active drilling.  For agricultural purposes, surface water and springs are also used to irrigate crops and water livestock, which also experience ill effects from contamination.  An appropriate testing regimen to effectively mitigate any impacts on water sources used for agricultural purposes also should be devised.

  1. Effects of fragmentation of farmland due to access roads, pipelines and other infrastructure.
  2. Effects of settling and subsidence of ground associated with hydrofracking on drainage, both natural drainage and fields drained by installed drainage tiling, and impacts drainage changes may have on soil structure and crop productivity.
  1. Short and long-term assessment of available water resources for agriculture, residential and drilling and hydrofracking activities, by specific (i.e., town-level or smaller) area.  Report on the current use of water  by farming in the Marcellus Shale region by specific area, compared to the cumulative requirements for  drilling and related activities in that area.  For farming purposes, it is not practical to consider shipping water for irrigation or stock watering from adjacent townships.  This data should help determine the extent of potential competition for water between farms, residential water needs, and hydrofracking operations, and identify any localities of particular concern for potential water shortages.
  1. Effects on the availability and cost of farm labor & commodity trucking due to competition from the gas industry. Farmers are already paying increased cost per hundredweight for shipping milk to haulers serving New York’s dairy industry, that have experienced these impacts from gas industry development in Pennsylvania..  Is there enough appropriately skilled, licensed and available work force in these regions to provide for both industries, or will the gas industry  continue to drive up the price for farm- and agriculture-related labor  putting New York’s farmers at a competitive disadvantage in the marketplace?
  1. Effects of competition for products used by both the agricultural and gas industries.    Anecdotal evidence suggests a loss of availability of certain products or a significant price increase on products, which would negatively impact farm production and profit margins.
  1. Long-term  impacts of impaired air and water quality on the health of soil, livestock, honeybees, fruit, vegetables, and other agricultural crops and production.  As elevated ozone, in particular, has more serious impacts on per-acre productivity for some crops than it does on others (example: grapes), this analysis must be crop-specific, so that the industry can understand whether mitigations must include changes in crop mix to remain competitive with other producing regions.
  1. Impacts that effects on wildlife may have on agricultural operations (example: will a reduction in beneficial insect populations due to air quality deterioration result in booming populations of crop-eating insect pests no longer kept in check by natural predators?)
  1. Identify  how farmers will be compensated for losses and damage  due to water or soil contamination or other gas industry related incidents and accidents, including any involving independent trucking contractors. A clear and timely mechanism must be developed to assign responsibility for bearing and paying these costs to allow clean-up to begin immediately, to prevent the spread of contamination or the loss of more than one year’s crop.  Payment of compensation must be up-front, not reimbursable, so as to not negatively impact farmers’ available credit for operations.  Compensation regulations need to be crop or product specific and market-price based, with strict oversight and enforcement by the Department of Agriculture and Markets, which will require additional resources to provide this enforcement.
  1. Effects on the organic certification of certified organic farms.  Because organic farmers must uphold higher environmental standards and provide adequate records that their farmland has not been contaminated by prohibited substances, how will farmers be assured that the hydrofracking activities will follow the organic requirements on organic farms as they relate to right of way pesticide application, water-quality, pesticide drift, and run-off?
  1. The Marcellus region includes the Susquehanna River Basin, which drains into the Chesapeake Bay and is subject to new regulatory restrictions.  The EPA recently imposed Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment in this watershed, and farmers are subsequently faced with the burden and cost of helping the state and region achieve these targeted limits.  While gas development activities are likely to contribute to the sediment and nutrient loading of local waterways, this industry and its potential impacts were not included in modeling for the TMDLs, nor are they subject to accountability and oversight for their “contributions” to the problem.  How will agriculture be insulated from unfairly being required to shoulder responsibility for mitigating the impacts on TMDL for various pollutants created by the gas industry in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed area?
  1. 12.  Legislation such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Safe Water Drinking Act have resulted in significant regulatory oversight and accompanying costs for agriculture.  The gas industry enjoys a special exemption from these laws.  If additional gas industry development creates significant changes in environmental status, will this put added pressure and costs on industries (like agriculture) operating in the same area, which may be forced to bear the burden of having to compensate for the exempted/unaccounted for environmental impacts of the gas industry?  How will this industry-specific discrepancy in the enforcement of federal laws be addressed, how will pollution impacts be allocated to industrial origin, and will additional mitigating actions imposed by regulators create economic burdens that impact agricultural profitability in the region?


  1. 13.  In some instances, owners of farms and farmland are the recipients of royalty payments associated with gas development.  Payments can be substantial for high-producing wells.  Impacts on farming and the agriculture sector as a whole can’t be accurately assessed without considering to what degree such payments are utilized as additional capital to expand or improve farming operations, additional family income to augment personal expenditures unrelated to the agricultural enterprise, or a source of primary income substantially replacing income made by working the farm.  Conversations with Soil and Water Conservation staff from Pennsylvania have indicated that a significant portion of farmers cease farming operations when royalty payments begin.  An estimate of these effects—including the potential for reclamation of any fallowed land by the owner or a leasee at such time that gas production declines or ceases—should be undertaken. 
  2. A recent Duke Study has shown there to be a significance of Methane contamination in shallow drinking water systems.  Livestock watering and irrigation systems use an even more fragile and sensitive surface water, not just water from wells. How does the SGEIS taken into account these significant risks to farm operations?

Thank you for your time and consideration in reviewing this letter.  We would be happy to review our requests with you in person or over the phone.


Kate Mendenhall

Executive Director


cc: Governor Cuomo, NYSDAM Commissioner Aubertine


Filed under Gas Drilling Hydro-Fracking, Sustainable Farming