It’s official: New York has banned fracking – Politics on the Hudson

It’s official: New York has banned fracking – Politics on the Hudson.

Caveats——————-

 

No evidence that DEC is attemptng to limit the expansion of the gas industry-pipelines, compressors, gathering lines that it finds detrimental to the environment.  This expansion proceeds unabated even without allowing high volume hydraulic fracturing.

 

In today’s official announcement of the ban on fracking in NYS by the DEC, there is also this passage, where the word “prohibit” is used:

“In the end, there are no feasible or prudent alternatives that would adequately avoid or minimize adverse environmental impacts and that address the scientific uncertainties and risks to public health from this activity. The Department’s chosen alternative to prohibit high-volume hydraulic fracturing is the best alternative based on the balance between protection of the environment and public health and economic and social considerations.”

On Mon, Jun 29, 2015 at 3:33 PM, Ellen Pope <director@otsego2000.org> wrote:

There’s this, on p. 9 of the findings statement –

 

 

 

Ellen Pope

Executive Director

Otsego 2000, Inc.

PO Box 1130

Cooperstown, NY 13326

Tel:  607/547 8881

www.otsego2000.org

 

From: K. Shimberg [mailto:gkatmuse@gmail.com]
Sent: Monday, June 29, 2015 3:30 PM
To: Ellen Pope
Cc: otsego-coalition@lists.riseup.net; Consternation PL; Protect Laurens
Subject: Re: [otsego-coalition] NYSDEC releases Findings Statement on Fracking

 

Thank you, Ellen!   —

Yessss!!   (For now, anyway.)

Does Cuomo make an official announcement now?

And thanks to the DEC and all the official & unofficial advisors w/ good science and good sense, and all the comment-&-letter-writers and rally organizers & attenders, bird-doggers, naggers, etc. — (all of us).

On to the 2 major interstate pipelines impending thru here awaiting DEC’s permitting or (we hope) denial, and bomb trains already travelling thru here as elsewhere, Seneca Lake unstable gas-storage caverns pending DEC final approval or reconsideration, PA’s HVHF waste trucked in to NYS landfills, and other adverse consequences still affecting NYS.  And FERC continues to rubber-stamp industry requests w/ inadequate “mitigation,” and our POTUS and DOE keep pushing nat-gas development.

So — We’re encouraged and cheered by DEC’s/Martens’s issuance of these Final SGEIS findings, which nicely spell out the problems and reasons for “No Action” anywhere in NYS on permitting the dangerous dragon.  But our work ain’t over!

   — Kathy S.

        Mt. Vision, NY  13810n

 

 

On Mon, Jun 29, 2015 at 2:07 PM, Ellen Pope <director@otsego2000.org> wrote:

Hot off the presses.

 

Ellen Pope

Executive Director

Otsego 2000, Inc.

PO Box 1130

Cooperstown, NY 13326

Tel:  607/547 8881

www.otsego2000.org

DEC Extends Public Comment Period On Proposed Constitution Pipeline Until FEB. 27th – A New DEC Press Release

DEC Extends Public Comment Period On Proposed Constitution Pipeline Until FEB. 27th – A New DEC Press Release.

DEC Extends Public Comment Period On Proposed Constitution Pipeline Until FEB. 27th – A New DEC Press Release

DEC Extends Public Comment Period On Proposed Constitution Pipeline Until FEB. 27th

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today extended the public comment period on the draft permit for the proposed, federally regulated Constitution Pipeline and an upgrade to the Iroquois Wright Compressor station in Schoharie County by an additional 28 days. Public comments on the propose project will now be accepted until close of business on Friday, February 27.

The Constitution Pipeline is a proposed interstate natural gas pipeline that would traverse though Broome, Chenango, Delaware and Schoharie counties. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) was responsible for conducting an environmental review of the project and has the authority to approve the pipeline route. FERC issued a final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) in October, which can be viewed at: http://elibrary.FERC.gov/idmws/file_list.asp?accession_num=20141024-4001.

DEC maintains the authority to review applications for specific permits and approvals, including an Air Title V permit for the proposed compressor station upgrade, as well as a Water Quality Certification, a Protection of Waters permit, a Water Withdrawal permit and a Freshwater Wetlands permit for state-protected wetlands and adjacent areas.

Written comments should be submitted to:

Stephen M. Tomasik
DEC – Division of Environmental Permits
625 Broadway, 4th Floor
Albany, NY 12233-1750
constitution@dec.ny.gov

In addition, people can provide verbal or written comments at the following public meetings:

  • Binghamton – Monday, Jan. 12, 2015, 6 p.m. East Middle School Auditorium, 167 East Frederick Street
  • Oneonta – Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015, 6 p.m.
    SUNY Oneonta Lecture Hall IRC #3, 108 Ravine Parkway
  • Cobleskill, Wednesday, Jan. 14. 2015, 6 p.m.
    SUNY Cobleskill, Bouck Hall Theater, State Route 7

Copies of the FEIS and DEC permit application documents can be viewed online at:http://www.constitutionpipeline.com/. Printed copies are available at:

The Broome County Public Library, 185 Court St., Binghamton
The Afton Free Library, 105A Main St., Afton
The Bainbridge Free Library, 13 N Main St., Bainbridge.
The Franklin Free Library, 334 Main St., Franklin
Sidney Memorial Public Library, 8 River St., Sidney
Deposit Free Library, 159 Front St., Deposit
The Community Library, 110 Union St., Cobleskill
Schoharie Free Library, 103 Knower Ave., Schoharie

Information on the Iroquois Wright Compressor Station can viewed at: http://www.iroquois.com/documents/WIP_-_NYSDEC_Air_Permit_Application_7-26-13.pdf

Printed copies are also available at:

Schoharie Free Library, 103 Knower Avenue, Schoharie
Town of Wright Municipal Building, 105-3 Factory Street, Gallupville

Any solution? A clash over safe road brine sources

Any solution? A clash over safe road brine sources.

Any solution? A clash over safe road brine sources

Environmentalists say the New York state practice of spreading brine from underground gas storage onto highways, including those in Tompkins and Broome counties is a health concern.

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New York state spreads brine from underground gas storage onto highways, including those in Tompkins and Broome counties, to keep drivers safe, but that practice could have its own health consequences.

According to Riverkeeper, a Hudson Valley-based environmental advocacy group:

The brine is inadequately tested for radioactive material before it’s spread onto highways, with approval based on tests for radioactive material conducted 15 years ago.

The salt-water solution can find its way into drinking water supplies from highway run-off.

The mixture has a carcinogenic chemical that exceeds Environmental Protection Agency standards for drinking water.

State Department of Transportation officials counter that the salt-water mixture is safe and approved by New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation. Further, brine can form a protective barrier on roads that stops snow and ice accumulation, and it can help rock salt stick to asphalt.

“It helps plows keep up when there is heavy snowfall,” DOT spokesman Beau Duffy said.

DOT crews in Tompkins and Broome counties get their brine from a gas storage cavern in Harford, a Cortland County town about 20 miles east of Ithaca. The mixture can be known as “storage brine,” Duffy said.

The state spreads an average of 80,000 gallons of storage brine annually on state roads in Tompkins County, Duffy said. It spreads around 33,000 gallons on state roads in Broome County.

State crews also spread the storage brine in Cayuga, Chautauqua, Cortland, Onondaga and Seneca counties.

“(DEC) tested it, and it’s been deemed safe for us to use,” Duffy said. “We wouldn’t be able to use it without their permission.”

Environmentalists say the state hasn’t done enough to assure the storage brine is safe to use.

They point out that the DEC doesn’t know the radiation content of all storage brine that DOT spreads, and the substance can contain toxins at levels that exceed EPA safe drinking water standards.

“I don’t think that people should be reassured at all. I’m not,” said Misti Duvall, a staff attorney for Riverkeeper.

Riverkeeper obtained storage brine testing results from the DEC, and the testing did not include results for NORM, or naturally occurring radioactive material, Duvall said. The DEC doesn’t require NORM testing for brine, she said.

Without that data, Duvall said, it’s unclear how much radioactive material is dispersed when state trucks spread storage brine.

“If this is something that has been looked at by DEC, and NORM is not a concern, then we need to know why that is,” she said. “If it’s something that could be potentially a concern, there should be individual testing for NORM there as well.”

The DEC results showed that the storage brine contained benzene, a carcinogen that has been linked to blood disorders such as anemia; toluene, a chemical that has been linked to nervous system, kidney and liver problems; and chloride, a water contaminant that affects water taste, color and odor but is not considered a risk to human health.

“The concern is that you don’t want to see any of those getting into your drinking water at all,” Duvall said.

In the DEC storage-brine testing results, benzene levels ranged from 0.053 to 0.036 milligrams per liter; toluene ranged from 0.011 to 0.006 milligrams; and chloride ranged from 209,000 to 220,000 milligrams per liter, she said.

There are 1,000 milligrams in one gram.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s maximum contaminant level for benzene in drinking water is 0.005 milligrams per liter, and it’s 1 milligram per liter for toluene. Chloride is regulated by non-mandatory maximum levels of 250 milligrams per liter.

“When you put brine on the roadways, a lot of time, it does run off,” Duvall said. “If there are water supplies nearby, it can run into those water supplies.”

The high levels of chloride can increase salinity in waterways and harm wildlife, she added. The corrosive substance also can increase wear on vehicles and road infrastructure, such as bridges, she added.

Brine from gas drilling

Until 2012, DOT Region 6 crews spread “well-production brine,” which is brine that flowed up from New York state gas and oil wells.

The well-production brine was spread in Allegany, Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Tioga and Yates counties, according to Duffy. DOT stopped spreading the well-production brine after purchasing brine-making equipment, he added.

State crews never spread well-production brine in the Tompkins or Broome region, Duffy said.

Duvall argued that well-production brine has great potential to contain NORM, and the DEC needs to test for it.

“When a well is producing oil and gas, and you have that production brine coming up, you’re not just getting the fluids (that) went down initially, and you’re not just getting the oil and gas,” she said.

Every substance that’s down there is also flowing up, including NORM, she said.

The well-production brine test results that Riverkeeper obtained from the DEC showed no testing for NORM.

But the DEC did give Riverkeeper a single well-production brine test that showed benzene and toluene levels — 1.730 and 1.77 milligrams per liter, respectively, Duvall said.

Instead of testing well-production brine for NORM, the state bases its policy on test results published 15 years ago.

That round of testing, done after radioactive contamination of drilling waste was observed in other parts of the world, looked for radium isotopes in brine and other material associated with 74 gas and oil wells in upstate New York.

The study found that most brine, drilling equipment and other material sampled was at background levels for radioactivity, or just above, though several brine samples were appreciably higher than that.

The DEC concluded that spreading well-production brine posed no radiological risk, even to someone who walked almost every day for 20 years on a dirt road regularly treated with brine.

Man-made brine, a solution

When the DOT stopped spreading well-production brine in parts of New York, it wasn’t because of environmental concerns, but because the agency was looking to save money, Duffy said.

Man-made brine is cheaper because it doesn’t need to be trucked in from gas wells, he said.

“Our use of natural well brine has been decreasing and will continue to decrease as we mix more of our own,” Duffy said. The man-made brine is a mixture of 23 percent rock salt and 77 percent water.

In Chemung County, state crews spread man-made brine, and RiverKeeper said the solution is safer.

“That brine is just salt and water, and we do recognize that there are benefits to using brine rather than using rock salt on the roads,” Duvall said.

Though storage brine is spread on state routes that run through Broome County, the county highway department has found that pure rock salt and sand are the best materials to keep roadways clear in the winter.

“The county had tried brine in the past but got away from it years ago because they didn’t feel it was effective,” said Broome County Communications Coordinator Gabe Osterhout.

Tompkins considers ban

Tompkins County Legislator Dan Klein, D-Danby, said he’s planning to bring forward a law in March that would ban the spread of storage and well-production brine on all roads that pass through the county.

The law could affect highway departments throughout Tompkins County, but it’s unclear whether the legislation would stop the state DOT.

Duffy said it’s hard to say whether the DOT would heed the law, because it’s hypothetical at this point.

“Based on case law, we believe such a ban would not apply to the state highway system,” he said after talking with DOT lawyers.

If the law is passed, it’s likely that the most Tompkins could do is ask the state to stop spreading storage-brine on roads that pass through the county, Klein said.

“We might be able to claim that we have jurisdiction over the state, but on a practical level, there’s way no way to enforce that. We’re not going to sue the state; we’re not going to fine the state,” Klein said after talking with the county attorney.

“In the end, we might not actually be able to do anything about it,” he said.

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle staff writer Steve Orr contributed to this report.

Follow Andrew Casler on Twitter: @AndrewCasler

Concerns

The state Department of Transportation spreads brine on state roads that comes from gas storage facilities, and testing has showed elevated levels of toxic materials.

Environmentalists warn that the brine could pollute drinking water through runoff and storm events.

The DEC is basing its safety approval in storage brine on 15-year-old tests for radioactive material.

By the numbers

EPA drinking water standards

Benzene: Below 0.005 milligrams per liter.

Toluene: Below 1 milligram per liter.

Storage brine

Naturally occurring radioactive materials: Unknown.

Benzene: 0.053 to 0.036 milligrams per liter.

Chloride: 209,000 to 220,000 milligrams per liter.

Well-production brine

Naturally occurring radioactive materials: Unknown.

Benzene: 1.73 milligrams per liter.*

Toluene: 1.77 milligrams per liter.*

Source: Levels based on New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Freedom of Information Law documents obtained by Riverkeeper.

*DEC supplied test results for only one well.

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Health Department Report on Fracking in New York State – NYTimes.com

Health Department Report on Fracking in New York State – NYTimes.com.

Cuomo concludes fracking is too risky for New York | Capital New York

Cuomo concludes fracking is too risky for New York | Capital New York.

Cuomo concludes fracking is too risky for New York

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ALBANY—A long-awaited study released by the Cuomo administration on Wednesday determined several “red flags” about hydraulic fracturing that could pose “significant public health risks,” officials said at a public meeting of Governor Andrew Cuomo and his cabinet.

The governor’s announcement, articulated by his acting Department of Health commissioner Howard Zucker and Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner Joe Martens, delays any potential gas drilling in New York State for at least several more years as more data becomes available.

“The evidence in the studies we reviewed raised public health concerns,” Zucker said. “There are many red flags because there are questions that remain unanswered from lack of scientific analysis, specifically longitudinal studies of [fracking].”

“The science isn’t here,” Zucker continued. “But the cumulative concerns based on the information I have read … gives me reason to pause.”

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Winding toward the conclusion of his presentation, Zucker said, “Would I live in a community with [fracking] based on the facts that I have now? Would I let my child play in a school field nearby? After looking at the plethora of reports behind me … my answer is no.”

He yielded to Cuomo, who thanked him for his “powerful” remarks.

The health study, requested two years ago by state environmental officials, provided the basis for an open-ended stall by the governor, who was loath to anger environmentalist opponents or pro-business supporters of fracking before his re-election. For the past six years the state has vexed both constituencies, without provoking an outright revolt by either, by observing a moratorium on fracking without actually banning it.

Zucker said the health review involved 4,500 staff hours reviewing anecdotal reports and a stack of existing studies. He spent 15 minutes offering his analysis of several peer-reviewed reports and making an analogy to earlier scientific thinking on second-hand smoking.

Martens, when he spokes, said that restrictions already on hydrofracking in the New York City watershed as well as local towns that have banned its development mean that “the prospects for [hydrofracking] development in New York State are uncertain at best.”

At numerous points during his first term, and especially during his campaign this year, Cuomo cited the ongoing study as of the health impacts of fracking in lieu of articulating a position on it. In the meantime, a moratorium put in place by then-Governor David Paterson in 2008 remained in place.

(The health study placed the political onus on the Cuomo administration’s health department for its never-ending timeline; respected former health commissioner Nirav Shah, placed in the awkward position of giving a series of non-answers to questions about the department’s progress on its fracking study, left without saying much at all.)

In September 2012, after years of study, Martens and the Department of Environmental Conservation formally asked the state Department of Health to review the human health risks of fracking, leading to further delays.

The state sits on one of the nation’s richest shale deposits, the Marcellus, and is the last state in the nation with a major shale play to authorize fracking.

Proponents say drilling will create tens of thousands of jobs in the most economically depressed parts of the state, where industry and jobs departed generations ago.

Environmental groups have cautioned that drilling for natural gas in New York will pollute water sources, increase reliance on fossil fuels and harm human health.

In June, the state Court of Appeals upheld local bans on fracking, which Cuomo said would limit drilling to areas that support the industry.  More than 120 communities have banned fracking, while about 60 have passed resolutions that will allow the industry to expand.

For years, anti-fracking activists have been Cuomo’s most outspoken opponents, protesting nearly all his public appearances and rallying thousands in Albany for the annual State of the State address.

Cuomo lost a number of upstate communities in his primary to Democratic challenger Zephyr Teachout in September, a showing she attributed in large part to the turnout among anti-fracking activists.

Following Martens and Zucker at the cabinet meeting, Cuomo said, “I get very few people who say to me, I love the idea of fracking.”

Referring to the economically depressed areas of upstate that were candidates for fracking activity, Cuomo said the question now is, “What can we do in these areas to generate jobs, generate wealth … as an alternative to fracking?”

Answering a reporter’s question after the presentation, Cuomo predicted “a ton of lawsuits” in response to the decision.

Environmental Funding in New York State December 2014

www.osc.state.ny.us/reports/environmental/environmental_funding_nys_2014.pdf.

Environmental Funding in New York State

December 2014

Executive Summary

Created in 1970, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

(DEC) is responsible for most of the State’s programs to protect wildlife, natural

resources and environmental quality. DEC programs range widely from managing

fish and game populations and overseeing the extraction of natural resources to

monitoring the discharge of pollutants and hazardous materials and cleaning up

contaminated sites.

These services are integral to New Yorkers’ public health and general well-being,

and to the State’s economy. As part of the Office of the State Comptroller’s

commitment to promoting transparency, accountability and sound fiscal

management in State government, this report examines DEC funding from State

Fiscal Year (SFY) 2003-04, the year that the Brownfield Cleanup Program was

enacted, to the end of SFY 2013-14.

The scope of the DEC’s mandate has expanded considerably since its inception, and

has continued to grow during the period examined in this report. Recent initiatives

from the Legislature, the Executive and federal agencies that require DEC action

have included development of a climate action plan, regulation of shale gas

production, addressing threats associated with crude oil transportation,

implementation of new federal clean air standards and management of varied

programs aimed at mitigating specific types of pollution.

As this report details, the number of DEC Full-Time Equivalent staff declined by more

than 300 from SFY 2003-04 through SFY 2013-14. All Funds spending rose 27.8

percent over that same period. When adjusted for inflation, spending was nearly flat,

with a cumulative increase of 1.7 percent over the period examined. According to

the Division of the Budget (DOB), DEC All Funds spending is projected to decline

over the next several years.

During the period examined in this report, State Funds spending by the DEC reached

a peak in SFY 2007-08, and as of SFY 2013-14 was down 15.1 percent from that

level. Federal dollars, including funding through the federal stimulus program,

bolstered the DEC’s budget substantially during the period, but federal support is

expected to decline to around its pre-stimulus level this fiscal year. The State’s

current Financial Plan projects that State Funds disbursements by the DEC will

decline in each of the next three fiscal years.

New York has created a number of dedicated funds for environmental purposes in

an effort to provide a reliable flow of resources to address long-term needs. At times,

however, the State has resorted to sweeps from certain of these funds to provide

budget relief, undermining the purpose of the dedicated funds.

DiNapoli Releases Report on Environmental Funding in New York State, 12/10/14

DiNapoli Releases Report on Environmental Funding in New York State, 12/10/14.

December 10, 2014, Contact: Press Office (518) 474-4015

DiNapoli Releases Report on Environmental Funding in New York State

The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has experienced staff cuts and constrained funding since 2003 while its responsibilities have grown, according to a report released today by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

“DEC’s staff has declined while funding has barely kept pace with inflation and now is projected to decline,”DiNapoli said. “Our natural resources are major assets for the state’s economy and New Yorkers’health and quality of life. We must continue to safeguard these assets.”

DiNapoli’s report, “Environmental Funding in New York State,”examines DEC funding and workforce in the context of its mission. The report also highlights receipts and spending in several of the state’s major dedicated funds for environmental purposes.

DEC is responsible for most of New York’s programs to protect wildlife, natural resources and environmental quality. DEC programs range widely from managing fish and game populations and overseeing the extraction of natural resources to monitoring the discharge of pollutants and hazardous materials and cleaning up contaminated sites.

Since 2003, several new programs have been added to the agency’s list of responsibilities. These include the Brownfield Cleanup Program; the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative; and the Waste Tire Recycling and Management Act.

DEC spending was $795.3 million in SFY 2003-04 and $1 billion in SFY 2013-14. After adjusting for inflation, DEC spending rose by a total of 1.7 percent over the period examined. Since 2008, funding from state sources is down 15.1 percent. While federal funding has helped fill the gap, those resources are now declining as well. The state Division of the Budget projects that total DEC spending will decline this year and in each of the next three years by a cumulative total of 25.9 percent from the SFY 2013-14 level.

The size of the DEC workforce declined 10.4 percent, from 3,256 full-time equivalents (FTEs) in SFY 2003-04 to 2,917 FTEs in SFY 2013-14. It reached a peak of 3,779 FTEs in SFY 2007-08. Staffing in programs such as enforcement, air and water quality management, and solid and hazardous waste management has experienced significant cuts.

DiNapoli’s report also notes that two of the state’s major funds dedicated to the environment –the Environmental Protection Fund and the Hazardous Waste Oversight and Assistance Account –combined have been subject to sweeps in excess of half a billion dollars to provide general state budget relief in the past.

For a copy of the report visit: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/reports/environmental/environmental_funding_nys_2014.pdf

###

 

Albany Phone: (518) 474-4015 Fax: (518) 473-8940
NYC Phone: (212) 383-1388 Fax: (212) 681-7677
Internet: www.osc.state.ny.us
E-Mail: press@osc.state.ny.us
Follow us on Twitter: @NYSComptroller
Like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/nyscomptroller

Crude Oil Update Report

Crude Oil Update Report.

New York State Sends Letter to North Dakota Governor Dalrymple Supporting Proposed Regulations to Decrease Crude Oil Volatility – A New NYSDEC Press Release

New York State Sends Letter to North Dakota Governor Dalrymple Supporting Proposed Regulations to Decrease Crude Oil Volatility – A New NYSDEC Press Release.

NY DEC Air Monitoring Network Comment Due June 20, 2014 –ENB – Statewide Notices 5/21/2014 – NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation

ENB – Statewide Notices 5/21/2014 – NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation.

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