Ulla Kjarval and Adriana Velez

Archive for June, 2010|Monthly archive page

Save Family Dairy Farmers

In Food Chain, Food System, Policy, Uncategorized on June 28, 2010 at 2:25 pm

dairy antitrustFairmAid and CREDO have joined together to draft a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder to follow through on ongoing investigations of anticompetitive conduct in the dairy industry and to investigate the antitrust allegations outlined in pending lawsuits filed against DFA, Dean Foods, among others. Please read and sign the letter here.

Letter from farmer Ken Jaffe in response to the threat gas drilling poses to NYC’s food shed.

In Farmer's Concerns, Food Chain, Food System, Policy, Uncategorized on June 21, 2010 at 12:56 pm

Ken Jaffe is a grass-fed beef farmer in Meredith, NY
Hello all,

Tune into “Gasland” on HBO Monday June 21st at 9pm.

Folks in NYC may be feeling secure about gas drilling, and lulled into silence about the threat. After all, NY State has bowed to pressure from the City and decided there will be no drilling for methane gas in the NYC Watershed. You should not feel secure, because gas drilling will poison your food shed.

You should understand that the industrialization and pollution of rural upstate New York will kill the production of organic and sustainable food in this region.  The area of food production is almost all outside the NYC Watershed, and vulnerable. Massive amounts of toxins will be pumped into our aquifers and air. These hydrocarbons and volatile organic compounds, known carcinogens and endocrine disrupters, are pumped into the ground in massive quantities in the drilling process, and released into the air from evaporation tanks.

The gas and oil industry is relying on your silence so they will be unopposed. Their current plans are for 8-10 wells per square mile, pumping billions of gallons of toxic water into the ground. They will pollute the air and water of a large region that represents most of NY State food shed, directly threatening the agricultural base that you rely upon for your food. This includes the western Catskills, across the Finger Lakes to western NY. Most of Pennsylvania is also under the gun.

Pollution of water, air and food from the gas drilling industry is exempt from all federal pollution laws, thanks to Dick Cheney’s 2005 Energy Policy Act, and its “Halliburton Exemption”. Incredibly, gas drillers can pollute without regard to the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Water Act, or the Clear Air Act.  For instance, it is legal for gas drilling to cause drinking water to contain high levels of carcinogens like benzene that violate the Safe Drinking Water Act  because the Safe Drinking Water Act simply does not apply if gas drilling is the cause. With state of affairs, the public and the environment have been defenseless against gas drillers (who are one and the same as the oil drillers).  They have used the cover of this exemption to ruin the air, water, and landscape of large swaths of several western states, and are now moving east.

I am not prone to overstatement about health issues, but it is hard to express the magnitude of this treat in a short email. On a personal level, if gas drilling occurs in our area, I cannot image Slope Farms surviving. We simply will not be able to produce food that you will want to eat because of the toxins in the water that our cattle drink (and my family  drinks as well), and the massive pollution of our air.  This assessment is shared the many producers of sustainable agricultural products with whom I’ve spoken.

As a result of contamination of drinking water from gas drilling in Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Wyoming, and air in Texas, the US EPA has finally begun to  study the risks. There is proposed legislation at the federal and state level that would more closely regulate gas drilling. There is a proposal in NY State for a moratorium on drilling until the EPA can complete its study of the risks.  But none of this legislation currently  has enough  support to pass. So public awareness and pressure is critical. But it is doubtful that the current form of gas drilling (“hydrofracking”) with its injection of massive quantities of water and toxins in the ground can be done safely, even with regulation.

“Gasland” is a documentary on gas drilling. It will premier on HBO June 21 at 9pm. It is a 2010 Sundance Documentary Prize winner. It will give you new knowledge of this industry and its threats. You should see it. You should tell your friends. This industry is powerful, and has a track record of ruthlessness.  We need an informed public that is vocal to protect our food and water.

Best,

Ken

Ken Jaffe

Slope Farms

Meredith, NY