Wednesday, January 04, 2012

NYS Fracking decision looms; it’s getting intense


Three years ago I had never heard of Hydraulic fracturing (Fracking), until it was brought up at a Sierra Club conference I attended. Someone at the meeting said then that this issue will be big in New York State. Still, even a year ago it was barely mentioned in the Rochester, NY region—as the local media failed to mention for a long time that Fracking regulations are being shaped for both the Marcellus Shale and the Utica Shale, which includes Rochester, NY. . Now, things are getting intense. Even the governor is going to feel the heat:

“Superhero” Ads, Protesters Pressure Cuomo on Fracking ALBANY, N.Y. - Critics of fracking are to protest today at Gov. Andrew Cuomo's "State of the State address, hoping to tell the governor that he should slow the rush toward horizontal drilling for natural gas in New York's Marcellus Shale. Meanwhile, those worried about fracking's impact on New York's water have a new superhero, in a television ad produced by the Water Rangers Coalition. Wearing tights and a cape, he's played by a familiar character actor, Albany-born Adam Lefevre.  (January 4, 2012) Public News Service

Though, it is still hard to believe that New York State is still considering to Frack for natural gas. There are so many bad reasons why our state should not even consider this energy option, when we could have gone to renewable energy with the GLOW program (see NYPA: Great Lakes offshore wind is dead | Innovation Trail) that it leaves one stunned with incredulity.

The end is near: January 11th ends the public comment period on the:” Hydraulic Fracturing SGEIS - Comment period extended to January 11, 2012. Information available for hydraulic fracturing in Marcellus Shale area:” New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)

First off, this statement by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is misleading because this SGEIS isn’t just about the Marcellus Share area, which run well below Rochester, NY. It includes the Utica Shale, which is where we live. So, and I don’t know why this talk about drilling in NYS continues to do it, we are hiding the fact that the Utica Shale is part of the SGEIS. Check page 2 of the Executive Summary (PDF) (805 kb).

In New York, the primary target for shale-gas development is currently the Marcellus Shale, with the deeper Utica Shale also identified as a potential resource. Additional low-permeability reservoirs may be considered by project sponsors for development by high-volume hydraulic fracturing. The Department has received applications for permits to drill horizontal wells to evaluate and develop the Marcellus Shale for natural gas production by high-volume hydraulic fracturing.

Then, there are questions as to why a drilling practice so threatening to our fresh water (see EPA Finds Compound Used in Fracking in Wyoming Aquifer - ProPublica) has been exempted from the Fresh Water Safe Drinking Act:

Former Bush EPA Official Says Fracking Exemption Went Too Far; Congress Should Revisit - ProPublica When Benjamin Grumbles was assistant administrator for water at the Environmental Protection Agency in the George W. Bush administration, he oversaw the release of a 2004 EPA report that determined that hydraulic fracturing was safe for drinking water. Then he watched as Congress used those findings to bolster the case for passing a law that prohibited the EPA from regulating fracking under the Safe Drinking Water Act. (March 9, 2011) ProPublica

I mean it’s not like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is blind to the risk that Fracking brings to our drinking water:

Regulation of Hydraulic Fracturing Under the Safe Drinking Water Act | Hydraulic Fracturing | US EPA Water is an integral component of the hydraulic fracturing process. EPA Office of Water regulates waste disposal of flowback and sometimes the injection of fracturing fluids as authorized by the Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Water Act. Safe Drinking Water Act| Several statutes may be leveraged to protect water quality, but EPA’s central authority to protect drinking water is drawn from the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). The protection of USDWs is focused in the Underground Injection Control (UIC) program, which regulates the subsurface emplacement of fluid. Congress provided for exclusions to UIC authority (SDWA § 1421(d)), however, with the most recent language added via the Energy Policy Act of 2005: US Environmental Protection Agency

Anyway, before for this essay gets too long (as information about Fracking is growing in leaps and bounds in the media and all over the Internet) let me just encapsulate a few of the concern about Fracking--concerns about drilling leases, about drilling accidents, about earth quakes, and about Climate Change--just published by local media:

The deadline for responding to the DEC's revised draft SGEIS is fast upon us: January 11! If you're sending your letter through USPS, it must be stamped no later than 1/11. Here is a very comprehensive guide on how to do all that: DSGEIS Responses - SourceWatch

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