Groups Flag Top 10 Flaws in NY’s Revised Fracking Review

Groups Flag Top 10 Flaws in NY’s Revised Fracking Review.

Top 10 Fracking Flaws

  1. New York State isn’t proposing to ban any chemicals, even those known to be toxic and carcinogenic. While the proposed public disclosure component has been strengthened, telling New Yorkers what toxic chemicals will be used is not the same as protecting the public from negative health impacts.
  2. The preliminary draft allows drilling waste to escape treatment as hazardous waste, even if it is in fact hazardous under the law. This means fracking waste could be sent to treatment facilities unable to properly treat it, putting the health and safety of our waters and communities at grave risk.
  3. The state proposes allowing sewage plants to treat drilling wastes, even though such plants are not permitted to handle the toxic elements in such wastes, and even though the DEC itself has called into question New York’s capacity and ability to treat fracking wastes.
  4. Drinking water supplies would be inadequately protected. The preliminary draft increases buffers and setbacks from aquifers and wells. However the protections are inconsistent and can be waived in some instances. All setbacks and buffers must be set to provide maximum protections that cannot be altered.
  5. Some fracking restrictions would have sunset dates. The preliminary draft proposes to place some areas of the state off limits to gas drilling, but upon closer examination, many of the restrictions have sunset dates and some of the protective buffers only call for site-specific individual environmental review, rather than clear restrictions.
  6. The preliminary draft does not analyze public health impacts, despite the fact that fracking-related air pollution and the potential for water contamination have serious effects on people-especially the elderly and children, and communities downwind and downstream of proposed fracking operations. There is growing evidence of negative health impacts related to gas extraction in other states.
  7. The DEC proposes issuing permits before formal rulemaking is complete, a backward move that leaves New York’s waters and communities at risk.
  8. The state is breaking up environmental impact reviews. The thousands of miles of pipelines or compressor stations required for drilling to get the resulting gas to market will be reviewed by a different agency under a different process. Without an accounting of such impacts, New York’s environmental assessment is incomplete and the full impacts of fracking are unknown. The Public Service Commission has jurisdiction over gas infrastructure. As such, Governor Cuomo should direct state agencies to coordinate their efforts in order to protect our air, water and communities.
  9. While proposing to put the New York City and Syracuse watersheds off-limits to drilling, critical water supply infrastructure would not be protected. The state proposes a buffer around New York City drinking water infrastructure in which only an additional review would be required and upon which projects could be permitted-not a formal ban. The proposed buffer is only one-quarter as long as a typical horizontal wellbore, too close to the sensitive, aging infrastructure that provides the city with drinking water. There are no proposed buffer requirements for Syracuse.
  10. New York’s environmental agency has been subject to steep budget and staff cuts and does not have adequate staff or resources to properly oversee fracking, even if every possible protection were in place. This reality raises the possibility that the DEC will be forced to cut corners with its reviews or fast-track permits despite the risks. Natural Resources Defense Council and Environmental Advocates of New York are members of an advisory panel expected to weigh in on agency resources and staffing in the months to come.

The DEC’s preliminary revised draft fracking assessment was released earlier this month. The complete revised draft is expected to be released for public comment and review in August. The groups are strongly requesting the DEC to expand public comment period from 60 days, one month less than the public comment period for the first draft of the SGEIS, to at least 180 days.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: