Sierra Club Finger Lakes Group




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Upcoming Events

Next FLG Meeting, Wed., Nov. 26, 2014, 7:00 pm, telephone conference call.

The Finger Lakes Group generally meets once a month. We meet in person—often in Montour Falls—or by conference call. Please check with us to confirm the date and location or phone number of our next meeting.

Winter 2014 Elections

All current Sierra Club members are eligible to run for the Group ExCom and help organize our activities. We would like you to become active with us! Five candidates have been nominated by the Finger Lakes Group Nominating Committee for five open seats on the Finger Lakes Group ExCom.

Frank Potter, Big Flats
Susanne Brown, Howard
Wade Stopka, Urbana
Kate Bartholomew, Montour
Judy Kugelmass, Covert

The Nominating Committee invited Club members to nominate themselves and urged qualified candidates to run. Petitions from petition candidates are due November 6, 2014. Click here for instructions. Click here to read the candidate statements. For general information about the election process, click here.

Winter 2014 Newsletter

Articles for the 2014 newsletter should be mailed to Newsletter Editor Erin Riddle by Oct. 30 at the above address or emailed to Questions about articles? Email or call Erin at 607-372-5503.

Tell the DEC to Ban Radioactive Gas Drilling Waste

In spite of our successes to keep the drill rigs at bay in NY, tens of thousands of tons of radioactive drilling waste pour over the border every year from Pennsylvanian fracking sites into NY landfills, threatening public health and water quality.

There are two pending proceedings in which landfills in Allegany and Chemung counties are seeking to expand their capacity to take possibly radioactive Marcellus Shale drilling waste from Pennsylvania. Take action on each!

Tell the Chemung County Legislature to Consider the Impacts of Accepting Radioactive Waste in Chemung Landfill

Click here to send an online message to the Chemung County legislature.

The Chemung landfill is one of five landfills in New York currently accepting shale gas drilling wastes from Pennsylvania. In the past two years alone more than 300,000 tons of drilling fluid waste and cuttings have entered NY waste facilities according to data released by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. The Chemung County legislature is considering a draft EIS on a proposed expansion of the Chemung County landfill. The expansion will more than double the amount of waste accepted at the Chemung landfill to a total of 417,000 tons annually from its current limit of 180,000 tons of municipal solid waste and 20,500 tons of construction debris. See an article about the expansion in the Corning Leader. The landfill's 2012 annual report shows that all leachate from the landfill is taken to the Chemung County Sewer District Elmira Waste Water Treatment Plant . The Elmira WWRP discharges into the Chemung River, which is a primary aquifer.

As lead agency under SEQRA, the Chemung County legislature has an obligation under SEQRA to take a hard look at the environmental and health impacts of their proposed action. But instead of addressing radiation issues in the EIS, the legislature says on p. 12 of their Revised Final Scoping Document, that "issues relating to radiation, radon and/or acceptance of materials from the Marcellus" were not incorporated into the scoping document because they "were examined in a prior environmental review before the NYSDEC, and/or are not environmentally significant based on the composition of Marcellus shale waste materials that are currently being deposited at the landfill." In fact, radiation issues were raised at an earlier proceeding, but were not decided. See the Commissioner's ruling stating, "The ALJ concluded that issues concerning Marcellus Shale wastes are not relevant to a decision on the County's application to raise the maximum waste acceptance limit at the landfill (see Issues Ruling, at 38). I concur." In a SEQRA proceeding all relevant environmental and health issues are required to be considered.

Written comments on the Draft EIS will be accepted until 4:30 p.m. on March 4, 2014. Comments should be addressed to Linda Palmer, Clerk of the Chemung County Legislature, John H. Hazlett Building, 203 Lake Street, 5th Floor, Elmira, NY 14902-0588, Phone: (607) 737-2066. The DEIS and the scoping documents are posted at .

The Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter has prepared a form to make it easy to comment on the failure of the Chemung County legislature to consider radioactivity issues in the Draft EIS. Please share the link with your friends.

Tell the DEC to Ban Radioactive Gas Drilling Waste in the Hyland Landfill

There is a pending application before the DEC to expand the Hyland Landfill in the Town of Angelica in Allegany County, NY, dramatically increasing the amount of drilling waste this facility can accept. Send a message to the DEC telling them New York should not be PA's dumping ground!

The Hyland landfill is one of five landfills in New York currently accepting various types of shale gas drilling wastes from Pennsylvania according to data released by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP). Some have estimated that as much as 30% of Pennsylvania’s shale gas drilling waste is coming to New York. In the past two years alone more than 300,000 tons of drilling fluid waste and cuttings have entered NY waste facilities.

Incredibly, NYS DEC is allowing solid waste and C&D landfills in New York to accept this waste despite the fact that the black shales that underlie New York and Pennsylvania are known to contain uranium, radium, radon and other radioactive elements. None of New York's landfills are properly equipped to safely handle or dispose of this waste.

Tell the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to ban the dumping of gas drilling wastes in New York landfills, and study the environmental and public health impacts of this waste stream. Click here to send an online message to the DEC and Governor Cuomo.

Organizing A Chemung County Task Force

On October 3, 2013, an organizing meeting was held at the Steele Memorial Library in Elmira to form a Chemung County Task Force. The task force will join with other Sierra Club members in Chemung County to brainstorm ideas and goals for events and activities in order to "explore, enjoy and protect" our local environment and natural areas in Chemung County. For more information about the task force or the Sierra Club in general, contact Erin Riddle at 607-372-5503 or erin.riddle at

About the NY Sierra Club Water Sentinels Program

In April 2013, Bill Mattingly, the coordinator of the Painted Post (Steuben, Chemung, Allegany, Schuyler, Yates area) Water Sentinels Group of the NY Water Sentinels program gave two presentations about the program, one in Bath and one in Corning. A video of Bill's presentation in Bath is posted on YouTube.

Winter 2013 Newsletter

Click here for a PDF copy of the Winter 2013 Group Newsletter.

Black Oak Wind Farm, by Marguerite Wells, Project Manager

Protecting Our Water: The New York Water Sentinels, by Bill Mattingly

Hard Water! by Gene Stolfi

Winter 2011 Newsletter

Organic and Robotic: An Alternative to Dairy Farm CAFOs by Patrick Brown

Liquid Fear: Creative Non-Fiction by Naomi Burnett

Empowered Documentary by Annie Koreman

Pipe Dreams? by Gene Stolfi

Overlooked Dangers of Drilling, by Gene Stolfi

Sierrans Have More Fun! by Jim Trondsen

2011 Group Elections

Four candidates were elected to the Finger Lakes Group Executive Committee in the 2011 group elections:

Kate Bartholomew, Montour Falls, Schuyler County
Susanne Brown, Hornell, Steuben County
Annie Koreman, Trumansburg, Tompkins County
Frank Potter, Big Flats, Chemung County

2011 Events

Film showing: Empowered: Power from the People

Tompkins County, NY is one of the cloudiest, least windy places in the country, and yet its residents are proving that we can meet our energy needs through totally renewable resources. From solar and wind to veggie oil and geothermal, "Empowered" is an independent feature-length documentary teling the story of Ithaca's role in the energy independence revolution. The film was directed by Shira Golding Evergreen and produced by Suzanne McMannis. It features the home of Annie Koreman, Vice Chair of the Sierra Club Finger Lakes Group, and the group co-sponsored a showing of the film in Ithaca on Dec. 7, 2011. Learn more and empower yourself at:

District Office Lobby Day

The Finger Lakes Group participated in the state Sierra Club's district office lobby days in 2011 and 2010. In 2011 we met with Assemblymen Chris Friend and Phil Palmesano. In 2010 we met with Assemblyman Jim Bacalles, with Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton and with the staff of Assemblyman Tom O'Mara.

Group Picnic

On September 20, 2009, we met for a picnic at the home of Annie Koreman, Group Energy Chair, in Trumansburg. We did planning for the next few months and took a tour of Annie's solar panels, electric tractor, and geothermal HVAC system.

Hammond Hill State Forest Hike

Lead by Virgil Shields.

Forum on the Effects of Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling on Local Water Sources

On June 22, 2009, the Finger Lakes Group of the Sierra Club joined with the Steuben County Environmental Management Council, the League of Women Voters of Steuben County, the League of Women Voters of Chemung County, and the Bath Peace and Justice Group to sponsor a public forum on the Effects of Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling on Local Water Sources. The program was held at the Fire Hall in Bath and was attended by 114 people. The remarks of the three outstanding speakers at the forum were taped by Wilton Vought of True Colors Video and are posted on his website, The speakers were:

Ron Bishop, lecturer in chemistry and biochemistry at SUNY Oneonta, gave an overview of natural gas extraction technology and explained how water contamination can occur during the gas drilling process.

Steve Penningroth, Executive Director of the state-certified water testing laboratory at the Community Science Institute in Ithaca, described how to test private and municipal water wells so that landowners and municipal officials can discover problems and have solid scientific baseline water data that will stand up in court should contamination occur.

Andrew Beyers, a farmer/botanist from Newfield who has been studying gas drilling issues, talked about the work of the Shaleshock Citizens Action Alliance, and described how community members can take action on gas drilling issues.

Earth Day Survey

An informal survey on environmental issues was conducted by Gene Stolfi, Katie Stroman, Robin Stroman, and Jim Trondsen at our Sierra Club Finger Lakes Group table at Corning Community College's Earth Day event on Wed., April 22, 2009. Robin De Lill Stroman, our FLG Zero Waste Chair, designed the survey and compiled the results. Interestingly, while most people think global warming is real and are worried about the harm human activity is causing the planet, most people also believe that the United States is doing enough to confront the problem and believe that global warming can be reversed. Click here for the detailed results.

District Office Lobby Day

The Finger Lakes Group participated in the Sierra Club's District Office Lobby Day on Fri., Mar. 6, 2009. We met with staff members of Senator George Winner and Assemblymember Tom O'Mara in Elmira, and with Assemblymember Barbara Lifton in Ithaca. We have a follow-up meeting scheduled with Assemblymember Lifton in May to discuss restoring authority to local governments to regulate oil and gas drilling in New York by repealing the 1981 amendments to the Environmental Conservation Law removing that authority.

Photograph by Sue Heavenrich

Forum on New Gas Drilling Techniques

On Sun., Feb. 1, 2009, the Finger Lakes Group sponsored a public forum on the health and environmental impacts of new gas drilling techniques in Corning. For more information about the forum, click here.

Winter 2008 Newsletter

Many thanks to our newsletter team of Annie Koreman and Kate Bartholomew for an excellent new issue of the Finger Lakes Sierran, and to our authors:

Our New Geothermal Heating and Cooling System by Annie Koreman, Energy Committee Chair
Is New York Ready for Zero Waste? by Robin De Lill Stroman, Zero Waste Committee Chair
Marcellus Shale Formation—Are You Being "Fracked"? by Gene Stolfi, ExCom
Who Wants to Save Money, Reduce Housecleaning Chores and Feel Good? by Gene Stolfi
The Continued "Wasting" of Rural New York by Erin Riddle

Photos of Finger Lakes Water Day, Champlin Beach, Hammondsport, June 1, 2008

Photographs by Jim Trondsen

Zero Waste Forum in Elmira, Dec. 12, 2007

The Finger Lakes Group held a very successful forum on zero waste with Lynne Pledger, a member of the national Sierra Club's Zero Waste Committee from Hardwick, Massachusetts, on December 12, 2007, at the Steele Memorial Library, in Elmira. Almost 70 people turned out on a cold winter evening to learn about the role our production/disposal cycle is playing in the Global Warming crisis, how other communities are moving forward with Zero Waste, and what we can and must do to implement Zero Waste initiatives in our area. For more information contact Robin De Lill Stroman, Finger Lakes Group Zero Waste Committee Chair at (607)529-3510 or stromanhome at

Chemung River Fest, Elmira - June 9, 2007

Photographs by Rich Hurley

Steuben Water Day, Hammondsport - June 3, 2007

Cohocton Paddle, Bath - June 2, 2007