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DEC adds protections to gas drilling

By Fritz Mayer
July 6, 2011

NEW YORK STATE — There are major changes and at least one major reversal in the proposed rules that will likely come to cover fracking in New York State. On June 30, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) released a summary of updates to the draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (dSGEIS) regarding gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing that the department has been working on since 2009.

Among the biggest changes is that now DEC is recommending to Governor Andrew Cuomo that fracking be banned entirely in the New York City and Syracuse watersheds. Previously, the recommendation had been that owners of any gas drilling operations in those watersheds would need to complete individual environmental impact statements for each well, seriously increasing the cost but not entirely preventing drilling.

But drilling critics have jumped on that as not being the positive development it might seem. Bruce Ferguson, a member of Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy, called it “unequal protection.” The environmental advocacy group Catskill Mountainkeeper noted in an email to supporters that the recommendations “fail to offer protections for the Delaware River Basin and the private lands in the Catskill Park.”

While there is no suggestion in the release that a statewide ban on fracking would be considered, there are measures designed to increase protections for water supplies across the state. For instance: no permits would be issued for sites within 500 feet of a private water well or domestic use spring; no permits may be issued for a proposed site within 2,000 feet of a public drinking water supply well or reservoir at least until three years of experience elsewhere have been evaluated; no permits will be issued for well pads sited within a 100-year floodplain.

There are also recommended measures that would restore or clarify some of the power that local officials have to control where drilling can and can’t take place. According to the release, “Applicants must certify that a proposed activity is consistent with local land use and zoning laws. Failure to certify or a challenge by a locality would trigger additional DEC review before a permit could be issued.”

While these and other measures, such as containment of flow-back water in sealed vessels rather than open pits, go a long way toward meeting many of the complaints lodged by critics over the past few years, the movement for a total ban is stronger than ever.

Mark your calendars!

for the August comment period if you care about living in upstate NY and not in Rockland County or Long Island.

The people of NY must demand full accountability and credibility on the part of State Government, the DEC, the EPA, and the gas companies- including evaluation, protection, and rigorous and effective enforcement of environmental safety and quality, economic security for the future, and quality of life for NY taxpayers (i.e., "constituents"); as well as full investigation and disclosure of all gas industry claims regarding the quantity of gas available and the ability to economically extract it (since further evaluation and enforcement is not even justified if the whole thing is a hoax based on artifically inflated quantities of economically unextractable gas designed to fuel a ponzi scheme of titanic proportion).

Where was Obie when Madoff made off

with so many people's savings? He seems to feel he knows a Ponzi scheme when he fears one.

he got caught

after the fact. WIth so much suspicion now surrounding the claims made about the amount of gas in the shale, and with mounting evidence that the gas co's actually can't even extract it at a profit (or at least not much of one) anyway, if all that's going on is gas company profit from layered onions of investors, we damn well better know about it before ANY further discussion of the future or lack thereof of shale gas takes place and before our tax money gets spent on it. No need to even discuss future local economic impacts, environmental issues, quality of life for residents/taxpayers, property rights, etc. if the whole thing is a farce.

Obstructionism knows no bounds.

If there is gas? A company plans to build two gas fired power plants in norhtern Pa because of the gas that is being produced. Is there no misinformation or misleading headline that obstructionists will not embrace? ( A double negative?)

all that means

is some company convinced someone else to finance the construction of two gas fired power plants in northern PA. First step in any good scheme is to line up willing or gullible investors.

It has no bearing or relevance to the actual amount of gas or the profitablity of extracting it.

Please say something meaningful next time. I'm sure those numbers Cabot or Chespeake gave you sound great, but are they real?? You still believe it when they parrot that fracking doesn't contaminate, so you're not exactly a reliable source on such matters. In fact, some might say totally discredited and irrelevant.

You also show no evidence of even owning land in the area, so why does your opinion matter?

That hurts!

To think that you think you can somehow get TheNatural to discuss his vast land empire in this medium is a low blow, but a good try. So you maintain gas extraction pollutes, it must be stopped, we will not be relying on natural gas for the bext 50 or 100 years, there is very little in the area anyway, gas companies lie about finding gas, most people do not want gas drilling and do not use gas and would rather freeze than see it extracted in their area? You feel gas extraction will not help the economy, it will provide few, if any real jobs, that we can utilize wind and solar immediately and supply our energy needs, build the area's economy with crackpot organic farmers and tourists from the eco-friendly Big Apple and North Jersey, not worry about declining school attendance and school closures, and be happy our kids and grandkids can get jobs mowing lawns and cleaning bathrooms for the affluent weekend visitors that make their big bucks in the polluted canyons of Wallstreet? And you call TheNatural an unreliable source? Okay....

......

...I think I'll start calling you and hick The Dodgers since for all your big talk you can never back up any of your claims, and now you can't even tell us why anyone might care what you think or how your opinion is even relevant.

Your cloak just unraveled, friend.

You are proving yourself to be an outsider with financial interests in gas, nothing more.

And what in heck does gas have to do with declining school attendance? Will the dudes from Texas or COlorado or wherever that temporarily live in motels or trailers here and get per diem to go out to eat every night be paying to house their wives and children here while they work for a few years? Even if there were a temporary boom in population and school class sizes, what would we do after expanding our school facilities (at taxpayer expense) and hiring more teachers to accomodate these temporary transplants, only to find them vacant and unemployed a few years later? Who would benefit from this? Indeed, this would simply be a redux of the collapse of the resort industry which is a big factor in the economic pains we do have today- too many people and too much infrastructure without enough jobs or money for everyone. We should've learned from the first time, not do it all over again.

And does it make you feel better about yourself if local people are cleaning the bathrooms of temporary per-diem gas workers from elsewhere instead of rich weekend people from elsehwere?

And while we all want the best for our kids, having the kids of the minority of local residents be able to live off the spoils of their parent's gas lease is hardly any kind of long-term economic vision for the future of the region.

Oh, and by the way, we're talking about this region here, not the region where you live.

This is your argument?

No need to discuss this any further. You help drilling more than the rest of us can, with your illogical arguments.

my arguments

have a lot more of both sense and science that your selfish thinly veiled rants about how you want it all and want it now. Plus I'm local to TRR's coverage area, you're not; I own land here, you don't; so you still fail to explain what your detached outsider's opinion counts for here anyway?

You also have yet to explain to me how per diem workers from out of state will help local school attendance, or what jobs would be created locally other than some temporary laborers and those low-paying service-sector jobs you seem to loathe when the service is provided to out-of-state vacationers or second-home owners, yet want to see local people doing the same work for out-of-state drillers and gas idnsutry workers and their bosses.

OH, and once again- NICE DODGE, DODGER!