The Clean Air Clean Water Carbon-Free Petition for New York State sign now

If you agree that our state legislators here in NY should truly protect the air we breathe and the water we drink the following twelve common-sense ways, sign on to this petition and pass it along to all you know:

1. Make New York carbon-free in ten years, as Al Gore has asked elected officials at all levels of government to work towards-- creating clean, green jobs, while saving money at the same time on electric bills, by making solar, geothermal, and energy efficiency loans much more available than now, as the Cambridge Energy Alliance is doing in Massachusetts, and as the Dutchess County Legislature passed a resolution for (22-3) in June.
[see 350.org, petitiononline.com/tenyears, CambridgeEnergyAlliance.org, WeCanSolveIt.org]

2. Enact a self-financing, revenue-neutral "clean car feebate"-- a sales tax incentive for fuel-efficient cars, paid for with a sales tax hike on gas guzzling cars, as the Rocky Mountain Institute has recommended, and as recently proposed for California.
[see petitiononline.com/cleancar; RMI.org]

3. Make sure Dutchess County is included as part of the Hudson Valley Community Preservation Act, as Westchester and Putnam counties are already, and as the Assembly has already passed legislation for Ulster and Orange counties to be-- to make it much easier for towns to protect farmland and open space (and our watersheds) from development with referendums as they wish, as already in Putnam and Westchester counties, and as the Assembly has already passed legislation for in Ulster and Orange counties.
[see Assembly.state.ny.us/mem/?ad=101&sh=story&story=23825; PetitionOnline.com/SaveLand]

4. The DEC should move quickly to save our swiftly declining bee population by smartly following in the footsteps of Germany and France, and implement an emergency ban now on neocotinoid seed-treatment pesticides like clothianidin and imidacloprid.
[see petitiononline.com/savebees; BeyondPesticides.org; PANNA.org]

5. Raise chemical clean-up standards for brownfield sites here in Dutchess County and across the state, as the Sierra Club, NYPIRG, Environmental Advocates of New York, and the Citizens Environmental Coalition have called for; a review of brownfield soil standards in CT, NJ, DE, NH, CO, and CA found that New York's cleanup standards for highly toxic chemicals such as arsenic, lead, and vinyl chloride are in many cases significantly weaker.
[see EANY.org/pressreleases/2007/09252007.html; EarthJustice.org]

6. Make sure that toxic MTBE spills that have contaminated drinking water in Dutchess and across the state are fully remediated and cleaned up (the fact that the DEC now has literally 700 less staff than in 1994 is part of the problem). Hyde Park native Walter Hang, now President and CEO of ToxicsTargeting.com, a nationally recognized expert on groundwater contamination, has stated over and over again annually for the last seven years that MTBE/other contamination is not really and truly/fully being cleaned up or remediated in NY.
[see RealMajorityProject.blogspot.com; ToxicsTargeting.com]

7. Stop sewage overflows into the Hudson River and watersheds across the state: get SPDES permits fully reviewed-- and again, the DEC fully staffed (700 lost since '94). The Environmental Advocates of New York released their "Permission to Pollute" report in April on how literally 300,000 gallons of raw sewage poured into the Hudson River in May 2007 in Poughkeepsie alone.
[see EANY.or/news/04282008.html; Riverkeeper.org]

8. Initiate a take-back program for unused prescription drugs to protect groundwater from contamination, as Maine has long done successfully; several other programs have worked as well, including one in British Columbia funded by an association of more than 100 drug companies, a pilot project in Washington state that includes collection sites at 25 group health clinics, and manufacturer-based collection programs in Australia, France, Italy and several other European countries. There should be no further delay in making sure that bipartisan legislation (S.7560/A.840-A) passes to ensure that manufacturers of prescription and over-the-counter medications take those prescription drugs back, dispose of them in an environmentally friendly manner, and fund such a program.
[see www.assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?bn=A840A; www.assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?bn=S7560;
USAToday.com/news/nation/2008-03-10-drugs-tap-water_N.htm]

9. Make sure that standards are raised for our public drinking water supplies-- test more contaminants (140 aren't even tested currently). According to a recent report from the Environmental Working Group (echoed by Elizabeth Royte in her recent book "Bottlemania"), the fact is that, "Tap water in 42 states is contaminated with more than 140 unregulated chemicals that lack safety standards, according to the Environmental Working Group's (EWG's) two-and-a-half year investigation of water suppliers' tests of the treated tap water served to communities across the country.
[see PetitionOnline.com/OurWater; EWG.org/tapwater/findings.php; Bottlemania.net]

10. Enact Assemblymember Jim Brennan's proposed two-year moratorium legislation (A.11527) on gas drilling in NY to protect groundwater from dangerous chemicals-- as the Sierra Club, Riverkeeper, Natural Resources Defense Council, Catskill Mountainkeeper, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Catskill Center for Conservation and Development, The Wilderness Society, and Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy all called for in late July-- "a moratorium until all the comprehensives issues get looked at in their entirety-- after the Governors office announced it had directed the DEC to prepare an updated generic environmental impact statement.
[see PetitionOnline.com/NoDrill; CatskillMountainkeeper.org]

11. Make sure that power plants here in the Hudson Valley (Danskammer, Indian Point, Roseton, and Bowline) and across the state to finally abide by the Clean Water Act and use the best cooling technology available (closed-cycle dry cooling) to stop fish-kills, as Riverkeeper and Scenic Hudson have called for. Of the thirteen key fish species studied in Riverkeepers Pisces Report, ten have declined in abundance since the 1980s: shad, tomcod, bay anchovy, alewife, blueback herring, rainbow smelt, hogchoker, white catfish, weakfish and white perch.
[see Riverkeeper.org/campaign.php/hudson_fisheries; ScenicHudson.org]

12. Make sure our state's Department of Environmental Conservation sets air quality standards based on critical loads, as at Rocky Mountain Park and in Europe, as the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies and Nature Conservancy called for in July; air pollution (sulfur, nitrogen, mercury, and ground-level ozone) is degrading every major ecosystem type in the northeastern and mid-Atlantic United States, damaging a broad range of habitat types.
[see Ecostudies.org/threats_from_above.html]

Enough; how many more years should we have to wait before the state Senate majority and their counterparts in the Assembly minority get off the dime, lift a finger to speak up, and make these twelve common-sense initiatives to protect our air and water reality? None.

The fact is that these crucial issues (all of which have a big local impact on us in Dutchess County) have been neglected for far too long by our so-called "representatives" in Albany. Let's end business as usual, call election-year greenwashing what it is, and send a strong message to make sure our representatives in Albany step it up a notch to the next level to truly stand up for our environment; if you agree, sign on to this petition and pass it along to all you know (see much more info below on all twelve points above).

Joel Tyner
Dutchess County Legislature Environmental Committee Chair
County Legislator, Clinton/Rhinebeck
324 Browns Pond Road
Staatsburg, NY 12580
[email protected]
(845) 876-2488

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1. Make New York carbon-free in ten years, as Al Gore has asked elected officials at all levels of government to work towards-- creating clean, green jobs, while saving money at the same time on electric bills-- by making solar, geothermal, and energy efficiency loans much more available than now, as the Cambridge Energy Alliance is doing in Massachusetts, and as the Dutchess County Legislature passed a resolution for (22-3) in June. The Cambridge Energy Alliance is helping homeowners and businesses secure loans to pay for building retrofits, those loans designed to pay themselves off with $160 million in savings on utility bills over the next ten years for a city with 100,000 population-- with almost everyone eligible for energy audits, energy efficiency retrofits, and solar/geothermal investment loans (if Dutchess County truly followed this model we might well save upwards of literally half a billion dollars over the next decade). According to CambridgeEnergyAlliance.org-- "Over the next five to six years, the Cambridge Energy Alliance seeks to serve 50\% of all Cambridge buildings [public and private]-- and reduce electricity demand by 15\%, with comparable reductions in heating and water use. Over 80\% of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Cambridge are the result of energy use in buildings. The program will reduce annual GHG emissions from the city by 150,000 tons in the first five to six years. Through a combined investment of over $100 million over the next five years in improvements that reduce energy waste, the Cambridge Energy Alliance expects to save 164 million kiloWatt hours of electricity annually."

The fact is that air quality is a health issue in Dutchess County-- there are over 39,000 people in Dutchess County with asthma, bronchitis, or emphysema-- well over more than one out of every ten of us, according to the American Lung Association of New York State; cleaner, greener energy with less carbon emissions means less heat content in the air-- which means less ground-level ozone pollution (and less hospitalizations and doctor's visits from bad air quality means less tax dollars spent on Medicaid as well). Also, Dr. Clive Jones of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies has confirmed that the dangerous ground-level concentration of ozone here in Dutchess County is literally twice as bad as it is in the Bronx; recall "City Trees Outgrow Rural Cousins, and Study Credits Urban Chemistry" by James Gorman (NYTimes 7/10/03; reported prominently in the Poughkeepsie Journal as well).

Middlebury College's Bill McKibben reminded us all May 11th on why initiatives like the Cambridge Energy Alliance need to be replicated across the U.S. "Two weeks ago came the news that atmospheric carbon dioxide had jumped 2.4 parts per million last year-- two decades ago, it was going up barely half that fast. A few weeks ago, NASA's chief climatologist, James Hansen, submitted a paper to Science magazine with several coauthors. The abstract attached to it argued-- and I have never read stronger language in a scientific paper-- that 'if humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, paleoclimate evidence and ongoing climate change suggest that CO2 will need to be reduced from its current 385 ppm to at most 350 ppm.' Hansen cites six irreversible tipping points-- massive sea level rise and huge changes in rainfall patterns, among them-- that we'll pass if we don't get back down to 350 soon; and the first of them, judging by last summer's insane melt of Arctic ice, may already be behind us." From McKibben's 350.org website-- "350 is the red line for human beings, the most important number on the planet. Make no mistake--getting back to 350 means transforming our world. It means building solar arrays instead of coal plants, it means planting trees instead of clear-cutting rainforests, it means increasing efficiency and decreasing our waste. The fact is that America has been producing more carbon dioxide than any other country, and leads the industrialized world in per capita emissions."

As Al Gore told us July 17th--" Scientists have confirmed that enough solar energy falls on the surface of the earth every 40 minutes to meet 100 percent of the entire world's energy needs for a full year. To those who say 10 years is not enough time, I respectfully ask them to consider what the world's scientists are telling us about the risks we face if we don't act in 10 years. The leading experts predict that we have less than 10 years to make dramatic changes in our global warming pollution lest we lose our ability to ever recover from this environmental crisis." Fact: According to the BBC December 14. 2005, "The top 10 warmest years recorded globally have all occurred during the last 12 years." According to Erika Spanger-Siegried of the Union of Concerned Scientists, "In recent decades, however, the characteristic climate of the Northeast has begun to change dramatically. Between 1970 and 2000 alone, summer temperatures rose about one degree Fahrenheit (єF) and winter temperatures rose nearly 4 єF. Spring is arriving sooner, summers are growing hotter, and winters are becoming warmer and less snowy. Without deep cuts in heat-trapping emissions, summers in New York near the end of the century may feel as hot as Georgia summers do today. Fortunately, it's not too late to preserve the traditional character of our northeastern states."
[see: CambridgeEnergyAlliance.org, WeCanSolveIt.org, 350.org, petitiononline.com/tenyears;
LATimes.com/news/opinion/la-op-mckibben11-2008may11,0,7434369.story;
NortheastClimateImpacts.org News.BBC.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/6177663.stm;
query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9403EED6133DF933A25754C0A9659C8B63]

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2. Enact a self-financing, revenue-neutral "clean car feebate"-- a sales tax incentive for fuel-efficient cars, paid for with a sales tax hike on gas guzzling cars, as the Rocky Mountain Institute has recommended, and as recently proposed for California (AB432-Ruskin). It's important to address this-- Dr. Gary Lovett of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies stated publicly at a forum at Millbrook's Farm and Home Center last summer that the vast majority of ground-level ozone pollution locally is from transportation sources. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Clean Car Discount program proposed for California would wipe out nearly a third of the global warming pollution from cars and trucks thereover 75 million tons per year by 2030-- equivalent to taking almost 20 million vehicles off the road.

Most lower income car buyers would benefit from the Clean Car Discount program, as it would include exemptions on used cars and vehicles purchased for small business purposes, paratransit, and low-income residents. In fact, many low and moderate income residents who buy new vehicles would benefit from the program because the less expensive new cars and trucks, on average, receive the greatest rebate. It also would exempt persons with disabilities from having to pay any additional charges, and would make various models that can accommodate wheelchairs less expensive. As the Rocky Mountain Institute's Amory Lovins and E. Kyle Datta wrote in their 2004 book, "Winning the Oil Endgame: American Innovation for Profits, Jobs, and Security" (see OilEndGame.com), "Most importantly, revenue- and size-neutral "feebates" can shift customer choice by combining fees on inefficient vehicles with rebates to efficient vehicles. The feebates apply separately within each vehicle-size class, so freedom of choice is unaffected. Indeed, choice is enhanced as customers start to count fuel savings over the vehicle's life, not just the first few years, and this new pattern of demand pulls super-efficient but uncompromised vehicles from the drawing-board into the showroom."

The following groups have endorsed this legislation: Republicans for Environmental Protection, American Lung Association, Breast Cancer Fund, League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Union of Concerned Scientists, Environmental Defense, Environmental Working Group, Friends of the Earth, Consumer Action, Consumers Union, Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, Consumer Federation of California, Our Childrens Earth, California Interfaith Power and Light, The Interfaith Environmental Council of Los Angeles, California Public Interest Research Group, Environmental Entrepreneurs, Working Assets, Environment California, Environmental Defense Center, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, Clean Power Campaign, Breathe California, Coalition for Clean Air, Energy Independence Now, et. al. According to a 2006 poll, 60\% of likely voters support the Clean Car Discount program, with an overwhelming majority from every region, income level, and political affiliation indicating support.
[see: petitiononline.com/cleancar; RMI.org; CaliforniaProgressReport.com/2007/06/california_asse_16.html;
CaliforniaProgressReport.com/2007/04/legislators_shi.html;
UCSUSA.org/clean_california/california-clean-car-discount.html]

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3. Make sure Dutchess County is included as part of the Hudson Valley Community Preservation Act, as Westchester and Putnam counties are already, and as the Assembly has already passed legislation for Ulster and Orange counties to be-- to make it much easier for towns to protect farmland and open space from development (and our watersheds) with referendums as they wish, as already in Putnam and Westchester counties, and as the Assembly has already passed legislation for in Ulster and Orange counties. As American Farmland Trust NYS Director David Haight stated publicly at the June "No Farms: No Food" event in Clinton, "Three of the top threatened farm areas in the United States are in New York-- here in the Hudson Valley, the north end of the Finger Lakes, and the east end of Long Island."

The fact is that Cost of Community Services studies have been done here in our county in Amenia, Beekman, Fishkill, North East, and Red Hook proving that investment in farmland/open space protection is much less expensive than allowing local communities to "build out" with residential sprawl. As Robert McKeon's Red Hook Community Preservation Alliance (PreserveRedHook.org) notes, "The problem comes from the fact that the taxes paid by new households do not cover the cost of schools and services provided to those households. Each new household adds at least one new child on average to the school district, costing us a minimum of $9,300 a year, yet contributing far less in taxes." As Meg Crawford (Rhinebeck Conservation Advisory Council Chair) has stated, "I feel the State should pass the Community Preservation Act to allow all municipalities to raise funds locally for the preservation of open space and historic structures. We need to use all means possible to raise money for this purpose. A County Transfer Tax will help in this effort. Local transfer taxes would add even more. Our beautiful, unique farmland and forests are fast disappearing and very threatened by more development. We must act now before it is too late."

Other endorsers of our PetitionOnline.com/SaveLand effort here in Dutchess County include Rhinebeck's Roz Austin, Cynthia Carlaw, Joseph Cassarino, Jim Closs, Joanne Engle, Gerrit Graham, Fred Nagel, Jonna Paolella, Cynthia Owen Philip, Frances Sandiford, Steve Sansola, Kathy Sheppard, Michael Trimble, Alice Wilbeck, Clinton's Glen Burger and Sarah Love, Michael Cerrato, George and June Sanderson, Doug and Elizabeth Smyth, and Stanford's Andrew Lawson, Pawling's Gordon Douglas (Dutchess County Planning Boardmember) and Nickita Negermsith, Millbrook's Ilana Papele, Robert Mahar, Kimberly Mooers, Eve Propp, Howard Schuman, Hester Weeden, Robert Whaley, Red Hook's Jean-Claude Fouere, Allison Hale-Rude, Owen O'Connor, Rohan Parikh, John Schmitz Regina-Sophia Siegel, Paolo Vidali, Poughkeepsie's Jim Beretta and Doreen Tignanelli, Joe Calabro, Kurt Hornick, Carolyn Joseph, Gary Kenton, Carolann Koehler, Doug McComb, Jim Mearns, Erika Rumbley, Janice Viola, Beth Wagner, and Carol White, Beacon's Tom Baldino (Conservation Advisory Council Chair), Dana Devine O'Malley, Union Vale's Charles (Skip) Hoagland and Millerton's Dianne Engleke and Mark Liebergall, Hyde Park's Anne Dexter, Joan Grishman, Herbert and Barbara Sweet, and Milan's Stephen Callahan; also see the Trust for Public Lands' "The Economic Benefits of Parks and Open Space" and the American Farmland Trust report: "Agricultural Economic Development for the Hudson Valley":
[see: TPL.org/tier3_cdl.cfm?content_item_id=1145&folder_id=727;
Assembly.state.ny.us/mem/?ad=101&sh=story&story=23825;
Assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?bn=A09105 ; Co.ulster.ny.us/resolution-archives/2007/226-07.pdf;
Co.ulster.ny.us/resolution-archives/2007/13june2007-resolutions.html]

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4. The DEC should move quickly to save our swiftly declining bee population by smartly following in the footsteps of Germany and France, and implement an emergency ban now on neocotinoid seed-treatment pesticides like clothianidin and imidacloprid. More than enough compelling evidence to drive this has been collected from across the planet linking these chemicals to Bee Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD)-- and even the EPA's own fact sheet on clothianidin shows that it has known of the dangers to bees since it conditionally approved the chemical in 2003. France has outlawed the use of the pesticide imidacloprid (see below) which like clothianidin is classed as a neonicotinoid. Imidacloprid has been linked to disoriented behavior in honeybees and may help explain why many CCD cases result in abandoned hives.

As far as Germany goes, according to the cover story for the Hudson Valley Business News June 21st this year, "The Plight of the Honeybee: New Buzz on a Deadly Problem" by Bob Rozycki, Beekeeper Dennis Remsburger of Pleasant Valley "thinks that neonicotinoids, used in a variety of pesticides are to blame. Hes in good company with his thinking. Last month, Germany banned a family of pesticides that beekeepers there are linking to the deaths of their bees. According to a report in The Guardian newspaper, tests on the dead bees in Germany showed that '99 percent of those examined had a build up of clothianidin.' The German Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety suspended the registration of eight pesticide seed treatment products. Clothianidin is in the nicotinoid chemical family. Clothianidin, which is manufactured by the Bayer Corp., is registered for seed treatment use on corn and canola, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In a pesticide fact sheet dated May 30, 2003, 'clothianidin on corn and canola should result in minimal acute toxic risk to birds. However, assessments show that exposure to treated seeds through ingestion may result in chronic toxic risk to non-endangered and endangered small birds (e.g., songbirds) and acute/chronic toxicity risk to non-endangered and endangered mammals. Clothianidin has the potential for toxic chronic exposure to honey bees, as well as other nontarget pollinators, through the translocation of clothianidin residues in nectar and pollen.' Organophosphates (OPs) had been used in orchards, Remsburger said, but could not be sprayed on the blossoms. That was good for honeybees. But as OPs are being phased out by the EPA and neonicotinoids are being widely used, honeybees are being affected."

Sam Comfort of Anarchy Apiaries echoed this in a cover story for the Summer 2008 issue of "About Town for Northern Dutchess County", stating, "The industry has always been in quicksand. The more we think we help, the deeper we sink. I think we've stepped over a boundary and put ourselves into the mind of the hive, and bees don't agree with our intrusions into their home or on the landscape. The sub-lethal effects of pesticides, like the popular systemic imidacloprid, compromise bee immunity."
[see petitiononline.com/savebees; PANNA.org;
HudsonValleyBusinessNews.com/archive/062308/cover/cover06230801.php;
Aboutown.us/dutchess/articles/summer08/listen.shtml]

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5. Raise chemical clean-up standards for brownfield sites here in Dutchess County and across the state, as the Sierra Club, NYPIRG, Environmental Advocates of New York, and the Citizens Environmental Coalition have long called for. A review of brownfield soil standards in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, New Hampshire and New Jersey found that New York's cleanup standards for highly toxic chemicals such as arsenic, lead, and vinyl chloride are in many cases significantly weaker. Even the DEC itself has found here in Dutchess, across our county, a veritable toxic soup of chemical pollution repeatedly at various brownfields-- MGP (manufactured gas plant) tar, BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene), PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), SVOCs (semivolatile organic compounds), PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), NAPL (non-aqueous phase liquids), PCE of course (tetrachloroethlylene)-- along with arsenic, chromium, copper, selenium, silver. As the Poughkeepsie Journal reported August 4th, "the states cleanup standards for polluted sites known as brownfields are weaker than the federal governments and should be strengthened.

A survey released by the Center for Health, Environment and Justice, the New York Public Research Interest Group and other organizations compared the states clean-up standards to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agencys. The federal standard for lead allows 800 parts per million to be left at an industrial site, and New York permits 3,900 parts per million of lead, the groups found [in years past, when such levels were found at Superfund sites it would have triggered the site being cleaned up; now these are merely the levels to which the site must be "cleaned"]. 'Now that the state has addressed the problems with the brownfield tax credits, we are calling on the DEC (state Department of Environmental Conservation) to turn its attention to the concerns we have raised for quite some time about the weak cleanup requirements,' Laura Haight, senior environmental associate with NYPIRG, said in a statement. The Sierra Club, NYPIRG, Environmental Advocates of New York and Citizens Environmental Coalition have filed a lawsuit challenging the states cleanup standards, which were issued under former Gov. George Pataki. Earthjustice, a public-interest law firm, is representing the groups."

Finally, as Dutchess County's own Debra Hall stated in a press release last September 25th, "Health statistics point to many cancers caused by breathing invisible, undetected toxic fumes. Now that more is known about vapor intrusion it is up to the DEC to prevent risking others communities to potential illness. It is unjust and unfair for the agency to ignore this health threat when establishing soil cleanup standards- it's not just a good idea to protect public health, it's the law."
[see EANY.org/pressreleases/2007/09252007.html;
EarthJustice.org; DEC.NY.Gov/cfmx/extapps/derfoil/index.cfm?pageid=3]

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6. Make sure that toxic MTBE spills that have contaminated drinking water in Dutchess and across the state are fully remediated and cleaned up (the fact that the DEC now has literally 700 less staff than in 1994 is part of the problem). Hyde Park native Walter Hang, now President and CEO of ToxicsTargeting.com, a nationally recognized expert on groundwater contamination, has stated over and over again annually for the last seven years that MTBE/other contamination is not really and truly/fully being cleaned up or remediated in NY. Indeed, a Poughkeepsie Journal front-page article by Erika Rosenberg February 2003 stated that, "Less than 12 percent of MTBE spills cleaned to the state's own standards...A total of 2,286 MTBE spills have been reported to the state since 1985 and 262 have been cleaned to the standards, according to Toxics Targeting." Important-- "Since MTBE has been found to be highly soluble in water (up to 20 times more soluble than other gasoline constituents), the contamination spreads quickly throughout the aquifer and is difficult to remediate. Additionally, MTBE has the ability to travel far from the sites where it is first released and can dissolve in water, volatilize, and then redissolve in rain droplets." (from the Citizens Campaign for the Environment's Executive Director Sarah Meyland)

The Poughkeepsie Journal reported September 14, 2003 that, "There have been 60 spills involving the gasoline additive MTBE in Dutchess documented by the Department of Environmental Conservation, according to the Ithaca-based environmental company Toxics Targeting. Of those, only 15 have been 'closed' by the DEC, leaving 45 that have not been cleaned up to state standards." Sen. Chuck Schumer released a statement in October 2003 that "there are 36 MTBE spills to clean up in Dutchess County, at an average cost of $500,000 per spill, or a combined total of $18 million." More recently, an article last year in the Weekly Beat (2/22/07) reported that, "An inquiry with the DOH [Dutchess County Department of Health] turned up records of MTBE contamination in untreated public water supplies in the towns of Beekman, East Fishkill, La Grange, Pleasant Valley, Stanford, Wappinger, and Washington during 2006. Hyde Park and Amenia have also appeared on lists of water supplies contaminated since 2000." (from "False Sense of Security: MTBE is Focus of Contamination Concerns"; note-- DCDOH also found serious MTBE contamination in Rhinebeck in 2004 and 2005-- and serious MTBE contamination was also discovered across the town by various boards in Clinton in 2006 as well).

Actually, the fact is that our own county's Department of Health, contrary to dangerously false and misleading public statements they and the County Executive have made for years, have found serious groundwater contamination (from MTBE, etc.) over and over again, even years after MTBE was banned from being put in our gasoline in Jan. 2004. Repeated FOIA requests have revealed our county's Health Department has found MTBE in places like Stanford, Washington, Pleasant Valley, and LaGrange (along with other communities across Dutchess) in 2005/2006-- long after it was banned in January 2004, and a FOIA request of the DEC seven years ago revealed that literally 66 different gas stations across our county had MTBE spills that hadn't even been cleaned up to the DEC's own standards. The front page of the Hyde Park Townsman in November 2000 reported that the DEC and EPA knew for many years about several gas stations contaminating groundwater in the Greenbush section of Hyde Park without notifying people in that neighborhood whose groundwater was jeopardized from this. Recall-- Millbrook's Dr. William Augerson (of our county's Board of Health) testified at a January 16, 2007 public hearing re: well-testing legislation at Farm and Home Center in Millbrook the following: "The [Dutchess County] Board [of Health] was also surprised to learn that there is no process in place, where when a public well is found to be contaminated, that owners of adjacent private wells are warned of the water contamination. The Board naively assumed public health officials would feel a duty to warn the public about an identified hazard."

Finally, these eleven sentences from an Albany Times-Union article April 10th 2006 hit the nail on the head on how serious this issue is (from "No Easy Fix for $25B Problem" by Matt Pacenza): "Greenbush resident Colleen Berrian is convinced MTBE made her neighbors sick. Without prompting, she runs through a list: `A lady a few houses down died of bone cancer. A 17-year-old boy died of a brain tumor. A 4-year-old had a tumor. Another couple on Greenbush Drive both died of cancer. Many pets in the neighborhood have died of cancers. Another boy had leukemia. Up on Bircher Avenue, across 9G, there were a lot of cancers up there. I know a gal who grew up there who said that several people in her family all had brain cancers.' No health study has been done in Greenbush."
[see RealMajorityProject.blogspot.com; WeeklyBeat.net/2007/02/02/couwatercontam.html;
TimesUnion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=469397;
CitizensCampaign.org/comments/mtbecomments.htm]

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7. Stop sewage overflows into the Hudson River and watersheds across the state: get SPDES permits fully reviewed-- and again, the DEC fully staffed (700 lost since '94). The Environmental Advocates of New York released their "Permission to Pollute" report in April on how literally 300,000 gallons of raw sewage poured into the Hudson River in May 2007 in Poughkeepsie alone-- "detailing serious flaws in the New York State Department of Environmental Conservations (DEC) oversight of hundreds of water pollution sources across the state. The report, 'Permission to Pollute', documents how the states primary environmental agency is rubber-stamping water pollution permits without substantive review, as required every five years under the federal Clean Water Act. While the ultimate impacts to New Yorks waters are unknown, Permission to Pollute reveals that: Some water pollution permits in New York State have gone without thorough review for more than 20 years. Nearly all of the facilities reviewed for the report had permit violations resulting in the release of unsafe levels of pollution. The DECs administrative renewal of permits excludes the public and denies the public its rights to scrutinize polluting activities. Records and documents made available by the agency in response to our requests were often inconsistent and incomplete.

The states Department of Environmental Conservation rubber-stamps 90 percent of the water pollution permits issued in New York with no substantive review, and the agency knows that many of these facilities are contributing to excessive pollution problems in our streams and lakes, some of which are also public water supplies. Due to staff cuts under the Pataki Administration, New York State has failed to properly oversee and regulate the pollution discharged into New Yorks waterways for almost 15 years. Environmental Advocates investigation also uncovered that the public is being denied its right to scrutinize hundreds of permits issued by the DEC that authorize the discharge of billions of gallons of sewage and industrial pollution every day. According to the report, the DECs practice of rubber-stamping and renewing expired water pollution permits endangers the health of the states waters. The lack of staff at the agency is the main driver behind the DECs inadequate permit review practice; there simply arent enough engineers at the agency to scrutinize New Yorks polluters and the permits that authorize water pollution discharges. 'Permission to Pollute' is the follow-up to Muddying the Waters: The Unknown Consequences of New Yorks Failed Water Pollution Permitting Program, which documented how the DEC did not review the water pollution permits of more than 1,100 facilities for over a decade in clear violation of federal law. 'Permission to Pollute' is an in-depth look at about 10 percent of the pollution permits administratively renewed and rubber-stamped by the agency over the past 10 months beginning in July 2007."
[see EANY.or/news/04282008.html; Riverkeeper.org]

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8. Initiate a take-back program for unused prescription drugs to protect groundwater from contamination, as Maine has long done successfully; several other programs have worked as well, including one in British Columbia funded by an association of more than 100 drug companies, a pilot project in Washington state that includes collection sites at 25 group health clinics, and manufacturer-based collection programs in Australia, France, Italy and several other European countries. There should be no further delay in making sure that bipartisan legislation (S.7560/A.840-A) passes to ensure that manufacturers of prescription and over-the-counter medications take those prescription drugs back, dispose of them in an environmentally friendly manner, and fund such a program. Dr. David Carpenter, Director of the Institute for Health and the Environment of the State University of New York at Albany, recently stated that, "We know we are being exposed to other people's drugs through our drinking water, and that can't be good." The New York State Health Department and the U.S. Geological Survey tested the source of New York City's water upstate and found trace concentrations of heart medicine, infection fighters, estrogen, anti-convulsants, a mood stabilizer and a tranquilizer.

A vast array of pharmaceuticals, including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones, have been found in the drinking water supplies of at least 41 million Americans, an Associated Press investigation reported in March; in the course of a five-month inquiry, the AP discovered that drugs have been detected in the drinking water supplies of 24 major metropolitan areas, from Southern California to Northern New Jersey and from Detroit to Louisville; the presence of so many prescription drugs and over-the-counter medicines like acetaminophen and ibuprofen in so much of our drinking water is heightening worries among scientists of long-term consequences to human health. Recent laboratory research has found that small amounts of medication have affected human embryonic kidney cells, human blood cells and human breast cancer cells; the cancer cells proliferated too quickly; the kidney cells grew too slowly; and the blood cells showed biological activity associated with inflammation. Pharmaceuticals in waterways are damaging wildlife across the nation and around the globe as well, research shows; notably, male fish are being feminized, creating egg yolk proteins, a process usually restricted to females; pharmaceuticals also are affecting sentinel species at the foundation of the pyramid of life, such as earth worms in the wild and zooplankton in the laboratory, studies show. The EPA has analyzed 287 pharmaceuticals for possible inclusion on a draft list of candidates for regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act, but only one, nitroglycerin, is on the list.
[see www.assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?bn=A840A; www.assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?bn=S7560]
CNN.com/2008/HEALTH/03/10/pharma.water1.ap/;
CNN.com/2008/HEALTH/03/11/pharma.waterfish.ap/;
USAToday.com/news/nation/2008-03-10-drugs-tap-water_N.htm]

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9. Make sure that standards are raised for our public drinking water supplies-- test more contaminants (140 aren't even tested currently). According to a recent report from the Environmental Working Group (echoed by Elizabeth Royte in her recent book "Bottlemania"), the fact is that, "Tap water in 42 states is contaminated with more than 140 unregulated chemicals that lack safety standards, according to the Environmental Working Group's (EWG's) two-and-a-half year investigation of water suppliers' tests of the treated tap water served to communities across the country. In an analysis of more than 22 million tap water quality tests, most of which were required under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, EWG found that water suppliers across the U.S. detected 260 contaminants in water served to the public. One hundred forty-one (141) of these detected chemicals more than half are unregulated; public health officials have not set safety standards for these chemicals, even though millions drink them every day.

Of the 141 unregulated contaminants utilities detected in water supplies across the county between 1998 and 2003, 52 are linked to cancer, 41 to reproductive toxicity, 36 to developmental toxicity, and 16 to immune system damage, according to chemical listings in seven standard government and industry toxicity references. Despite the potential health risks, any concentration of these chemicals in tap water is legal, no matter how high. For 64 of the unregulated contaminants found in tap water, the government has not yet recommended unenforceable, health-based limits in tap water, let alone set an enforceable safety standard. For 46 of these chemicals, no health information whatsoever is available in standard government and academic references. Altogether, the unregulated chemicals that pollute public tap water supplies include the gasoline additive MTBE; the rocket fuel component perchlorate; at least 15 chemical by-products of water disinfection; four industrial plasticizers called phthalates linked to birth defects and reproductive toxicity; 78 chemicals used in industrial and consumer products; and 20 chemical pollutants from gasoline, coal, and other fuel combustion."
[see PetitionOnline.com/OurWater; EWG.org/tapwater/findings.php; Bottlemania.net]

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10. Enact Assemblymember Jim Brennan's proposed two-year moratorium legislation (A.11527) on gas drilling in NY to protect groundwater from dangerous chemicals-- as the Sierra Club, Riverkeeper, Natural Resources Defense Council, Catskill Mountainkeeper, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Catskill Center for Conservation and Development, The Wilderness Society, and Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy all called for in late July-- "a moratorium until all the comprehensives issues get looked at in their entirety-- after the Governors office announced it had directed the DEC to prepare an updated generic environmental impact statement. According to Catskill Mountainkeeper, "The effects of drilling on the Catskill environment have the potential to be devastating. Carcinogens that accompany deep drilling also have the ability to penetrate our water supply-- a water supply that provides drinking water to NYC through aqueducts connected to the Catskill Watersheds. Perhaps the most devastating effects of drilling will be the endangerment of the natural beauty of this region, and the carbon emissions that come with the further use of fossil fuels.

Dr. Theo Colborn, author of "Our Stolen Future" discusses the health impacts of gas drilling to humans, wildlife and domestic animals in areas of gas drilling. She shares with your listeners the truth behind the industry claim that they only use sand, water and soap in the drilling process. She exposes the chemicals they actually use and the extreme heath dangers of these chemicals. Research has documented that 91\% of these chemicals are hazardous to health as result of being skin and sensory organ toxicants, respiratory toxicants, gastrointestinal and liver toxicants, neurotoxicants, kidney toxicants, cardiovascular and blood toxicants, immunotoxicants, carcinogens, reproductive toxicants, wildlife toxicants, developmental toxicants and endocrine disruptors. Historically, these chemicals have not been properly handled, causing air and ground water pollution. As air and water are mobile-- this affects us all."
[see PetitionOnline.com/NoDrill; CatskillMountainkeeper.org;
Midhudsonnews.com/News/July08/29/gasdrill_mor-29Jul08.html;
www.assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?bn=A11527]

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11. Make sure that power plants here in the Hudson Valley (Danskammer, Indian Point, Roseton, and Bowline) and across the state to finally abide by the Clean Water Act and use the best cooling technology available (closed-cycle dry cooling) to stop fish-kills, as Riverkeeper and Scenic Hudson have called for. As Riverkeeper notes, "Of the thirteen key fish species studied in Riverkeepers Pisces Report, ten have declined in abundance since the 1980s: shad, tomcod, bay anchovy, alewife, blueback herring, rainbow smelt, hogchoker, white catfish, weakfish and white perch. Contrary to public perception, this report shows an increasingly unstable ecosystem in the Hudson. Fish kills can be drastically reduced with state-of-the-art cooling technology-- closed-cycle dry cooling (air cooling). This system uses radiator-type coils to transfer heat to air passing over the coils. Hybrid wet/dry cooling combines closed-cycle wet cooling with dry cooling. By adding water only occasionally for system maintenance and cleaning, dry cooling has several dramatic advantages over other cooling methods. It drastically reduces water requirements (requiring only about 200,000 gallons per day at a large modern plant). It eliminates visible plumes; it produces no thermal discharge to waterbodies.

Most significantly, it decouples power plants from major water bodies, allowing siting away from aquatic ecosystems. Dry cooling is currently in use at 60 plants in the U.S. (see the list under Related Info) and 600 worldwide. Of the new power plants currently proposed for construction in New York State, about half are slated to use dry cooling. The positive impact of changing cooling technologies on the Hudson River is huge-- retrofitting evaporative cooling towers on a power plant using once-through cooling reduces water usage by approximately 98\%. Switching from cooling towers to dry cooling reduces water usage by an additional 98\%. A once-through plant using 400 million gallons per day (mgd) would use only 8 mgd with cooling towers and only 0.16 mgd with dry cooling. For every 10,000 fish killed by a once-through plant, about 9,996 would be saved by dry cooling."
[see Riverkeeper.org/campaign.php/hudson_fisheries; ScenicHudson.org]

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12. Make sure our state's Department of Environmental Conservation sets air quality standards based on critical loads, as at Rocky Mountain Park and in Europe, as the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies and Nature Conservancy called for in July in their "Threats From Above: Air Pollution Impacts on Ecosystems and Biological Diversity in the Eastern United States" report. They found that air pollution is degrading every major ecosystem type in the northeastern and mid-Atlantic United States; the report is the first to analyze the large-scale effects that four air pollutants (sulfur, nitrogen, mercury, and ground-level ozone) are having across a broad range of habitat types; establish air quality standards that are based on critical loads; this is defined as the maximum level of deposited pollution that ecosystems can tolerate before harmful effects occur; by establishing thresholds, pollutants can be regulated in a way that preserves functioning ecosystems.
[see Ecostudies.org/threats_from_above.html]

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