with Council Member and Mayoral candidate Tony Avella

with Council Member and Mayoral candidate Tony Avella

some of the group of activists

some of the group of activists

For Immediate Release: Will Environmental Protection City Councilmember Gennaro Protect the Environment?

(New York, June 10) As the controversy about whether or not the State and Federal governments would allow unconventional gas drilling in upstate rural areas heats up, dozens of environmental activists rallied outside of City Hall on Wednesday in an animated protest to urge Councilmember Gennaro - the Council's Environmental Protection Committee Chair - to follow through on his declared opposition to gas drilling statewide:

“Every New Yorker should be worried about the very real and immediate threat of natural gas drilling in our drinking water supply, and join in the fight to get the State to ban this environmentally and fiscally unsustainable activity”. - Councilmember Gennaro

Also known as 'frack drilling', this unconventional form of gas drilling is a dangerous new form developed by Halliburton to transform rock into gas since less costly-to-get-to reserves of "natural" peaked in the U.S. in the 90s. The proposal to use the method which would use and contaminates trillions of gallons of fresh water drawn from rural community aquifers and watersheds currently used by farmers and rural communities has sparked widespread condemnation in Community Boards of New York City and across the state and country.

Councilmember Gennaro's hearings last Fall were stacked with representatives of homeowners with homes supplied by the Delaware and Catskill Watersheds as well as the NRDC and other national corporate environmental organizations which support gas drilling. The subsequent Resolution 1850 favors gas drilling in Upstate New York setting the stage for the industry to sacrifice profits in part of the city's water supply while drilling the pristine New York farm country. The demonstrators decried the "irresponsible and ecologically-unsound" two-tiered position for which Gennaro has 'sold his soul and sold out the environment'.

At the State and Federal bills introduced by New York State Assemblyman Brennan and Representative Maurice Hinchey respectively were identified as "pro-gas drilling" bills which fail to protect areas outside of the Catskill Delaware watersheds or farmland and rural areas nationwide not draining into municipal water systems.

Representative Hinchey's bill imperils farmland and rural communities nationally," claimed Angelo Panetta, a small farmer whose land abuts the border of the Catskill watershed. "Even though I'm within the supposed protected area, I know that if gas drilling is allowed under the Hinchey NRDC bill, even though I'm within the Catskill watershed, I've seen the way these fracking fluids travel underground in places like Wyoming and Colorado."

Josh Brengren, one of the activists and a Professor of Environmental Statistics and a speaker at the rally, has been gathering petitions outside his local Queens neighborhood supermarket on behalf of a new anti-gas drilling organization, NYS-H20. "This is the major issue facing our state at the moment especially given Hinchey and DeGette sell-out yesterday to unconventional gas industry in Congress. No one should stand by while the gas industry tries to squeeze gas out of impermeable rock at the expense of our soil, air, water and the future vitality of this state," he explained to one of the passersby on Broadway, picking up information packets including a DVD.

Linda Turillo learned about the issue from Mr. Brengren, and has also been gathering petitions signatures for a statewide ban. "Some fake environmental organizations - like NRDC (just look at their Board of Directors) - support so-called 'clean' gas as a "transitional" fuel. Turillo declared "climate scientists have made it clear that a rapid transition away from fossil fuels is necessary but Halliburton and these politicians just don't get it".

Many of the 35 activists, including Mr. Brengren, were inspired by the dramatic documentary, Raging at Nature, directed by budding documentarian and enfant terrible, Josh Foxe, which chronicles the devastating impacts of natural gas drilling in Western States.

NYS-H20, formed to protect water and food supplies in all of New York State from the frack drilling, said they are very troubled by the divide and conquer strategy being deployed by the gas drilling industry through Councilmember Gennaro's Resolution 1850. "They're using NIMBY activists who have second homes in the countryside in Pennsylvania which is fed by the same watershed which feeds New York City. They're deploying these people to make sell-out politicians like Gennaro look good by declaring New York City's supplies should be specially protected instead of standing with the majority of climate and anti-gas drilling activists who support a ban against the entire industry. I do not understand why this gained any traction." Jonathen Miles asserted.

As dozens of activists rallied, policymakers streamed into City Hall, many stopping to learn more about the inadequacies of Resolution 1850. After informing Council Member and Democratic Mayoral candidate Tony Avella about the issues involved he removed his name from Resolution 1850 in anticipation of a more comprehensive and inclusive approach to be forthcoming. Fire Department member Chris Bachely said, "I was impressed by how he listened and was willing to adopt his position when new information came his way. More politicians should be like that."

Council Member Gennaro has maintained that his committee has jurisdiction only of the water supply area patrolled by the NYC Department of Environmental Protection. In addition they point to two committee hearings he led in support of the Liquified Natural Gas facility promoted by Shell Oil called Broadwater which would have been located at the end of the Long island Sound, many miles from any New York City jurisdiction. Gennaro's defeated Resolution 1265 stated "...that Broadwater can be operated safely and securely in Long Island Sound."

The Shell Oil/Broadwater project was opposed far and wide by environmentalists, including Citizens Campaign for the Environment and Long Island Drinking Water Coalition, among 80 more. The State found the Broadwater proposal to violate the Coastal Zone Management Act and ruled the project inconsistent with the values and uses of the Sound.

In addition, the Council regularly considers issues of a national or international scope, with Gennaro himself voting on resolutions having to do with Sudan as well as a vote against a resolution opposing the Iraq War in 2003, activists pointed out.

Marie Winter, who came to the rally from Prospect Park and visits upstate New York and goes hiking regularly said, "Leave this gas where god flung it."