The Power of Activism


The exceptional work we have done together, what lies ahead and what you can do

Prior to pursuing their hydraulic fracturing agenda in New York State, the gas industry virtually walked into 32 states and set-up shop with minimal if any opposition. And the results as we know have been devastating for public health, the environment and for the social fabric of communities. But when the gas industry “Goliath” got to New York, they found a small but strong band of “Davids” who stood up and told them “NOT SO FAST”.  Since then our numbers have grown exponentially and together we have waged an unprecedented 4-year campaign to expose the dangerous consequences of gas drilling using hydraulic fracturing. Most importantly we have won some major battles, slowed the process and raised the consciousness of a large part of the state’s citizenry.

Significant among our joint achievements was getting then Governor Paterson in 2009 to withdraw the immensely flawed first draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (dSGEIS). These are the regulations under which hydraulic fracturing would have been governed. 

In September 2011, when the much improved, but still inadequate revised dSGEIS was issued, together we were responsible for turning out in mass at the hearings and submitting over 60,000 comments to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), which they are now in the process of reviewing. It is significant that prior to the fracking issue, no DEC document ever received more than 1,000 comments.  Yet even with this incredible outpouring of public concern the Cuomo administration continues to indicate it’s intention to fast track the release of the final SGEIS even as early as this spring.

Together we have halted, at least temporarily, the start of drilling in the Delaware River Basin.  In November, 2011, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), was poised to issue the first permits to drill for gas, which would have had a devastating impact throughout the Delaware River corridor from the headwaters in the Catskill wilderness to Philadelphia and Wilmington. Unprepared and facing tremendous levels of activism, the DRBC backed down and indefinitely suspended their process in large part because the states of New Jersey and Delaware came to realize they have nothing to gain – and everything to lose by allowing the Delaware Basin to become a gas field.   The industry, however, is putting on a full court press so along with our partners we will continue to stay vigilant.

These are just some of our most notable successes. The increased activism of New Yorkers to ban unsafe gas drilling is particularly remarkable, because it is being done in the face of the gas industry’s incredibly well-funded and skillful propaganda campaign and ‘fueled’ by those who have the most to personally gain from the commencement of fracking.

As was reported in last week’s New York Times article, “Millions Spent in Albany to Fight to Drill”, the gas industry is spending exorbitant sums of money to push for gas drilling. This holds in stark contrast with the dramatically underfunded efforts dedicated to exposing the scientific consequences of fracking.

Despite being dramatically outspent, out publicized and in an environment where the gas industry is aggressively seeking to squelch the truth about the science regarding the results of fracking (see  former Garfield, Colorado county staffer Judy Jordan’s comments on the attempts to bury reports of oil and gas wells contaminating groundwater), we continue to make very important progress. There can be no doubt why!  When people hear our argument, they begin to understand what is at stake.  They recognize the implications that fracking development would have on their health, communities and environments, and they become active – signing petitions, making calls, going to hearings and speaking out.  In short the more people know the truth, the more people become committed to preventing the destruction that drilling will undoubtedly bring.

Subsequently, one of the most important actions we can all take is to continue to educate New Yorkers about the danger of fracking, so that at each future step of this ‘war’ our voice will be louder and more powerful. Now that we understand what can be done, we need to increasingly mobilize. Otherwise we are 12 months or less from wells being drilled and fracked in our backyards.

This is where you come in – please commit to sending this email to as many of your friends, family, colleagues and neighbors as possible.   Introduce them to our website where they can find out the many reasons why fracking should be banned in New York State, keep up with the latest news concerning this fight and learn about opportunities to take part on the front lines.

Join our “DON’T FRACK FRIDAYS” call campaign every Friday to let Governor Cuomo know that we don’t want fracking to ruin our health and our environment.  His office can be reached at (518) 474-8390.

And as always, please donate to Catskill Mountainkeeper so that we can continue to fight on your behalf.

or send a check to: Catskill Mountainkeeper, Box 381 Youngsville, NY 12791
Copyright 2012 Catskill Mountainkeeper, P.O. Box 381, Youngsville, New York, 12791. Catskill Mountainkeeper is a non-profit 501(c)(3) grassroots advocacy organization dedicated to protecting and preserving the unique and irreplaceable Catskill Region of New York State.


Take a Survey to Help Research on Aquatic Invasive Species

Dear Fellow Trout Anglers,

Scientists agree that second only to habitat loss, aquatic invasive species (AIS) pose the greatest threat to the decline of native aquatic species in North America. The spread of already established AIS, and the impacts of new AIS invasions combined with rapid climate change is expected to increase AIS problems and will have a significant negative impact on efforts to conserve and protect threatened and listed native species across the country. A striking example of AIS impacts has occurred in Yellowstone Lake in Yellowstone National Park where two AIS, lake trout and whirling disease have combined to cause a 90 percent decline in the world’s largest refuge of native Yellowstone cutthroat trout.

Trout Unlimited’s AIS Program Director Dave Kumlien has worked closely with researchers from Illinois State University to develop an aquatic invasive species survey. The purpose of the survey is help TU Science and the TU National Leadership Council identify priorities and help develop AIS policy.

We need your help and ask that you take 7-9 minutes and take the online survey. No personal information is collected, and your participation is very important. If you know of a fellow trout angler who would be interested, please feel free to recommend the survey to them. The survey will be active from January 1, 2012 through the end of February 2012. We’d ask that you take the survey only once. Thank you!

Dave Kumlien
Director, Trout Unlimited Aquatic Invasive Species Program

Lyme disease map pinpoints high-risk areas: Do you live in one?


CBS News Staff
(Credit: flickr/jkirkhart35)

(CBS/AP) Lyme disease season is around the corner – which areas of the country face the greatest risk in 2012?

PICTURES: Lyme disease lies – and truths

Yale researchers have an answer. They’ve spent three years analyzing Lyme disease risk by dragging sheets of fabric through the woods to collect ticks, and have created a detailed map that shows where disease risk is highest (pictured below). The researchers hope their map can help improve prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of Lyme disease.

The map is part of a study published in the Feb. issue of the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. Though the areas highlighted as high-risk likely won’t surprise anyone familiar with Lyme, the research also showed where the disease is likely spreading, and it turned up some surprising information about the rate at which ticks are infected with the bacteria that causes it, researchers said.

The map shows a clear risk of Lyme across the Northeast, from Maine to northern Virginia. Researchers also identified a high-risk region in the upper Midwest, including most of Wisconsin, northern Minnesota and a small portion of northern Illinois. “Emerging risk” regions include the Illinois-Indiana border, the New York-Vermont border, southwestern Michigan and eastern North Dakota.

“The key value is identifying areas where the risk for Lyme disease is the highest, so that should alert the public and the clinicians and the public health agencies in terms of taking more precautions and potential interventions,” said study author, Dr. Maria Diuk-Wasser of the Yale School of Public Health. “In areas that are low risk, a case of Lyme disease is not impossible but it’s highly unlikely, so the clinician should be considering other diagnoses.”

The map is based on data collected between 2004 and 2007. Diuk-Wasser said the high risk areas likely haven’t changed, but there might be some changes in the transitional areas. The map is still useful, however, because it highlights areas where tick surveillance should be increased and because it can serve as a baseline for future research, she said.

Named after a small Connecticut town, Lyme disease is caused by Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria, which spreads to humans through bites from infected ticks. Symptoms include a bull’s-eye rash, fever, headache, and fatigue. Antibiotics easily cure most people of Lyme, but people who aren’t treated can develop serious complications like arthritis, meningitis, facial paralysis, and an irregular heart rhythm, according to the CDC.

Lyme disease self-defense? It’s more than bug spray
Lyme disease symptoms? Bull’s-eye rash isn’t whole story

Previous risk maps were heavily reliant on reports of human infections, but those can be misleading, according to the study, because the disease is both over- and under-diagnosed. Where someone is diagnosed is not necessarily where the disease was contracted, and ticks may live in a region long before they actually infect someone, meaning there could be a significant risk even without confirmed cases.

The study also provided new information about the infection rate among ticks, according to Diuk-Wasser. About 1 in 5 ticks collected were infected – more than researchers expected – and that percentage was fairly constant across geographic areas, she said.

The CDC counted more than 30,000 confirmed or probable cases of Lyme in 2010, the latest data available. More than 90 percent of those cases were in 12 states: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.

lyme disease map, yale school of public health

This map released by the Yale School of Public Health indicates areas of the eastern U.S. where people have the highest risk of contracting Lyme disease based on data from 2004-2007.

(Credit: AP)