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Winter 2012: Year in Review
Explore, enjoy and protect the planet

This newsletter also available as a PDF file.

Electronic Newsletters
To be friendlier to the environment, we deliver our newsletters, in both html and pdf format, via our web site,  We also mail paper newsletters with our "Year in Review" articles and those listing the candidates for the Executive Committee elections to all members.  If you would like to have a hard copy of all newsletters sent to you through the postal mail, please contact Jack Davis at 570-553-2081 or .

Calling Members Outside Broome County!
If you live outside Broome County, you may have noticed that many of our meetings are held in the Binghamton/Endicott area and that our focus is highly concentrated on issues within the Binghamton area and Broome County. We have an active executive committee, but are trying to encourage more of our Group’s fairly large membership to participate more actively. Since the Group’s membership extends throughout the Susquehanna watershed in New York State, we are developing ideas (but would certainly also entertain yours) about involving members in Group activities, such as holding outings or meetings in Tioga, Chenango, or Otsego counties. Contact Erin Riddle at or 607-372-5503 with information, updates or questions. We look forward to hearing from you!

Report on the Susquehanna Groups Activities in 2011
by Julian Shepherd
     Our principal educational effort has been our monthly meetings on the third Tuesday of the month in Endicott. These have featured speakers on topics ranging from alternative energy (solar and geothermal), economic aspects of fracking, flood prognosis and planning, Binghamton’s adoption of a climate action plan, and ecotourism.
     Our principal activist focus has been lobbying State officials (both in Albany and locally) and local officials about hydrofracture and horizontal drilling (“fracking”) for natural gas, flood mitigation, climate change, and logging and gas-leasing in local parks. Most of our local legislators are respectful enough of the Sierra Club that they give us a significant hearing and even involve us in press events. Although we are generally opposed to current plans to open the NYS countryside to fracking, we have filed oral or written
comments at hearings on the Department of Environmental Conservation’s revised Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement on fracking. The US Environmental Protection Agency also held hearings in Binghamton at which we made comments. Our members have also been active in several City of Binghamton initiatives encouraged by our progressive Mayor Matt Ryan: Neighborhood Assemblies, Shade Tree Commission, Community Gardens, and the development of a climate action plan ultimately endorsed by City Council.
     Last January, our annual Linda Spickard award for outstanding service to the environment was given to Stacy Merola, former County Environmental Analyst, a victim of Broome County budgetary cuts for engaging in real environmental analysis.
     In keeping with Sierra Club ethics, we aim to keep contact with the environment through outings. We have done several animal-tracking outings, an outing to the Broome County Environmental Education Center, periodically threatened with budget cuts, hikes in local parks threatened with logging proposals, and bicycle rides to promote commuting and shopping by bicycle.


Tuesday, February 21; 7:30 PM
Erin Riddle- "Home Rule, The Rights of Municipalities, and Hydrofracking in New York State"
Mayor Matt Ryan- "Protecting Our Water and Public Health through a Two-Year Moratorium"
Erin Riddle will begin with a brief introduction about "home rule" in the New York State Constitution and the right of municipalities to protect the public health, safety, and welfare of the community.
Mayor Matt Ryan will talk about the City of Binghamton's two-year moratorium on hydrofracking. Mayor Ryan feels that municipalities need to protect their own environment in face of the inadequacies of the state's SGEIS. He also believes that the state's Oil & Gas Law says that a municipality can't regulate oil and gas production but it doesn't say that a municipality can't have a moratorium or ban.

Tuesday, March 20; 7:30 PM
Wes Ernsberger and Tim Wolcott- “Climate Change Line in the Sand: Keystone XL Pipeline"
Why is effective action on climate change so urgently needed?  Why is it so important to prevent the Keystone XL Pipeline from being built? What can ordinary citizens do to nudge things in the right direction? Wes and Tim will show some introductory video clips and reflect on their experiences at the Washington DC protests last summer and fall.

About General Meetings:
Everyone interested is welcome at all Sierra Club activities, whether or not a member (except for Executive Committee meetings). General meetings are held at 7:30 p.m. on the third Tuesday of  each month, except July and August. They are held at Central United Methodist Church, 17 Nanticoke Ave., Endicott, NY (on Route 26 — from Route 17, follow 26 north to Endicott, west on East Main, north on Nanticoke.) The public is welcome and refreshments are served following the meeting. Contact Scott Lauffer at 607-341-3726 or for more information.

Stay connected!
Be sure to get updates about forthcoming events and actions through our email listserv and Facebook page. To be added to the listserv email with name and email address. On Facebook, search “Susquehanna Group of the Sierra Club” and LIKE us.

Summary of Comments on rdSGEIS
by Scott Lauffer
     The Susquehanna Group submitted comments to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) regarding the rdSGEIS (revised draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement) on the Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Regulatory Program. Below is a summary of the most important points.
     In general, we believe that hydrofracking/horizontal drilling will be detrimental to the environmental health of our community, and that economic benefits will be marginal and transitory, and limited primarily to the land-rich. We also believe that we should apply our limited resources to development of alternative energy sources rather than pursuing more fossil fuel supplies which through emissions of greenhouse gases will only worsen the impacts of climate change.
     We find that the rdSGEIS fails to adequately address the NYS Environmental Conservation Law where it is stated “It is hereby declared to be in the public interest to regulate the development, production and utilization of natural resources of oil and gas in this state in such a manner as will prevent waste.” It also states “that the correlative rights of all owners and the rights of all persons including landowners and the general public may be fully protected.”

Lack of estimation of cumulative impacts:
  • on ecosystems and other environmental resources
  • solids disposal
  • pipelines & compressors: effect to wildlife, rural quiet
  • release of NORM (naturally occurring radioactive materials)

If drilling is banned in NYC and Syracuse watersheds because it is a threat to unfiltered water systems, it follows that hydrofracking should be banned in all watersheds where people use unfiltered water from any kind of well or surface reservoir.
     Loss of local character and decrease in quality of life—including a more rural, scenic and quiet lifestyle—will have negative economic consequences for us. Disposal of waste in municipal waste treatment plants should not be permitted, especially given that our local treatment plant gets overwhelmed with heavy rainfall.
     Prohibition of development as a reasonable alternative was not treated seriously.
  • Too much reliance on disputable and overly-optimistic economic projections.
  • Recoverable reserves of Marcellus Shale Gas are overestimated (2008), this should be updated to reflect latest estimates by USGS. The US Energy Information Administration will slash its estimates by nearly 80%.
  • Lacks a thorough cost-benefit analysis that addresses economic effects like plummeting property values, harm to other industries like tourism and agriculture, burden to local communities and others.
  • Insufficient DEC personnel to do an adequate job of regulating.

Looking for Water Monitoring Volunteers
by Scott Lauffer
     The Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter is participating with The Alliance of Aquatic Resource Monitoring (ALLARM) out of Dickinson College to monitor streams and waterways in NY regions impacted by hydrofracking. Since we are within miles of hydrofracking in Pennsylvania, and share the Susquehanna watershed with northern Pennsylvania, there is a critical need to both establish a baseline for water quality and monitor for occurrences of hydrofracking chemicals in our watershed. We are trying to get 20 volunteers who will commit a few hours a month to collect samples in local waterways. ALLARM will provide a day of training and tools so that we are equipped to follow an established scientific protocol in collecting and analyzing data. Barium and strontium are the two signature chemicals that will be checked for when Total Dissolved Solid (TDS) indicators are high. We will serve as early detection volunteers and will be expected to notify the DEC when contamination is discovered. There is a lot more to the process, but be assured that true and tried methods are going to be implemented.
     If you would like to participate in this or have questions, contact Scott Lauffer at or 607-341-3746. You do not have to be a Sierra Club member to participate. A training date can be set up in a few weeks. This is a long term commitment, so be prepared for that before signing up. We will be the second group established in New York with ALLARM, one was just set up in western New York. There are several groups currently operating effectively in Pennsylvania.
     For more information about ALLARM, visit .

Change in Leadership!
Julian Shepherd, who has graciously served as Group Chair for 3 years, stepped down but remains as Conservation Chair while Scott Lauffer assumed the position of Chair. Thanks to Julian for his dedicated service. Scott returns as Chair after spending time in the west for the last 3 years with the National Park Service. The rest of the executive committee remains intact, with one committee position unfilled. We would welcome anyone interested in filling this spot to contact someone on the executive committee.

“Home Rule” Workshop
Will DEC regulations protect the water, air, public health, and well-being of our communities? Many around the state question whether this is possible and thus local governments are considering municipal “home rule” as guaranteed by the New York State Constitution. We will be offering a workshop on home rule in April, date TBD. If you are interested, contact Erin Riddle at 607-372-5503 or for more information.

Sierra Club Websites

Each of these provides links to the other two:
Atlantic Chapter (NY State):
Susquehanna Group (NY Southern Tier- Binghamton - area):
We are also on Facebook!

To join on our listserv:
To join our email list (low volume!) for announcements about meetings, outings and other events, send your full name and preferred e-mail address to Erin Riddle at .

Electronic Newsletters
To be friendlier to the environment, we deliver our newsletters, in both html and pdf format, via our web site: If you would like to have all newsletters mailed, please contact Jack Davis at 570-553-2081 or .

Susquehanna Group
Contact Information

Susquehanna Group- Sierra Club
PO Box 572
Endicott, NY 13760

Executive Committee 2012:
Jack Davis, Ben Farrer, Fiske Hanson, Scott Lauffer, Erin Riddle, Julian Shepherd, and Vivian Stevens

Scott Lauffer
(607) 341-3726,

Vice Chair
Erin Riddle
(607) 372-5503,

Fiske Hanson
(607) 772-1236,

Vivian Stevens
(607) 748-9865

Chapter Delegate
Jeff Bohner
(607) 772-8304,

Alternate Chapter Delegate
Julian Shepherd
(607) 722-9327,

Computer Committee
Jack Davis
(570) 553-2081,

Conservation Chair
Julian Shepherd
(607) 722-9327,

Cool Cities Coordinator
Erin Riddle
(607) 372-5503,


Vivian Stevens
(607) 748-9865

Jack Davis
(570) 553-2081,

Fiske Hanson
(607) 772-1236,

Newsletter Editor
Erin Riddle
(607) 372-5503,

Scott Lauffer
(607) 341-3726,

Political Chair
Ben Farrer
(607) 232-0740,

Sierra Student Coalition (SSC) Liason
Erin Riddle
(607) 372-5503,

Erin Riddle
(607) 372-5503,

Cindy Westerman
(607) 748-9792,

This page last updated May 6, 2011