Shale Daily / NGI All News Access

New York Issues Proposed Fracking Rules, Schedules Hearings

The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has released a proposed rulemaking that would impose additional regulations on natural gas drillers using high-volume hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in the state, and has scheduled a series of hearings on the proposed rulemaking.

DEC also released a proposed State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System General Permit (SPDES GP) for Stormwater Discharges associated with high-volume fracking.

The rulemaking is based on proposed requirements contained in a revised draft supplemental generic environmental impact statement (SGEIS) released by DEC earlier this month (see Shale Daily, Sept. 8). The core recommendations contained in the 1,537-page SGEIS were unchanged from the draft version of the report that was issued in July (see Shale Daily, July 5). Those recommendations include requiring operators to disclose the chemicals used in fracking, and prohibiting drilling in all primary aquifers, the watersheds of New York City and Syracuse, and all state-owned land.

The public comment period on the draft regulations runs concurrently with the public comment period on the SGEIS, which ends Dec. 12. Written comments will be accepted on the DEC website and by mail: Attn: dSGEIS Comments, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-6510.

DEC has scheduled public hearings on the revised draft SGEIS, draft regulations and proposed SPDES GP at Dansville Middle School in Dansville, NY, Nov. 16; the Forum Theater in Binghamton, NY, Nov. 17; Sullivan County Community College in Loch Sheldrake, NY, Nov. 29; and Tribeca Performing Arts Center in New York, NY, Nov. 30.

In July 2008 then-Gov. David Paterson ordered the DEC to complete the SGEIS, which effectively placed a moratorium on drilling horizontal wells in the New York portion of the Marcellus Shale (see Daily GPI, July 28, 2008). Paterson requested the SGEIS because the original GEIS was completed in 1992, before technological changes in shale development.

The de facto moratorium remains in place. "No permits for high-volume hydraulic fracturing will be issued until the SGEIS is finalized and DEC issues the required findings statement," DEC said Wednesday.

"While a de facto moratorium on job creation in the New York Marcellus has denied significant economic activity to the state, we must ensure that the eventual regulations aimed at replacing that temporary halt in activity are both workable and balanced enough to fulfill New York's promise to be 'open for business,'" said Marcellus Shale Coalition President Kathryn Klaber. "In the weeks and months ahead, our industry will continue to engage with a variety of stakeholders in Albany and across the state to work toward policies that protect our valuable resources -- our air, water and land -- while maximizing family-sustaining job creation in the state."

Tens of thousands of new jobs would be created in the Empire State if regulators decide to allow shale development, the DEC reported in the final draft of its report on the environmental impacts of fracking earlier this month. In its document addressing the economic impacts, the DEC said fracking "could provide a substantial economic boost for the state in the areas of employment, wages and tax revenue for state and local governments. However, the increased activity will also place a greater demand on government services."

The DEC report was largely supportive of the DEC's final draft report (see Shale Daily, Sept. 9).

DEC anticipates having to expand offices in the Southern tier and hire new employees to handle new permit applications if fracking is allowed in New York, according to a DEC document obtained by the Politics on the Hudson blog.

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