DEC drafts SGEIS
By Frank Rizzo
ALBANY The long-awaited New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) draft of the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) regulating gas drilling activities in the Marcellus Shale was released on Wednesday.
According to the release, “The SGEIS addresses the range of potential impacts of shale gas development using horizontal drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing and outlines safety measures, protection standards and mitigation strategies that operators would have to follow to obtain permits.”
Though a landowners association covering Wayne and Susquehanna counties in Pennsylvania recently signed a lease with Hess Corporation involving over 61,000 acres, gas companies on this side of the river were in a holding pattern waiting for the DEC’s regulatory intentions. The DEC did not issue any drilling permits while the SGEIS was being drafted.
Opponents of gas drilling activities have objections to hydrofracturing and horizontal drilling, as well as the heavy water usages the processes employ, citing severe environmental impacts and well water contamination.
Among the highlights of the SGEIS:
• “Every applicant must include disclosure of the ‘fracturing’ fluid compositions and the percentages of chemicals to be used for each well.”
• “Prior to drilling, private wells within 1,000 feet of the drill site will be tested to provide baseline information and allow for ongoing monitoring. If there are no wells within 1,000 feet, the survey area will extend to 2,000 feet.”
• “Companies will not only have to follow Susquehanna River Basin Commission and Delaware River Basin Commission protocols for water withdrawal where applicable, but also must complete a more stringent and protective streamflow analysis in regards to water withdrawal plans whether inside or outside the Susquehanna or Delaware basins.”
• “Prior to hydraulically fracturing a well, operators must complete a new ‘Pre-Frac Checklist and Certification Form’ to ensure technical compliance with the permit and to provide information regarding final well-bore construction and hydraulic fracturing operations.”
The draft is available at http://www.dec.ny.gov/energy/47554.html and the public comment period on the draft will be open until November 30. The SGEIS webpage contains instructions for submitting comments.
For additional information regarding the draft SGEIS and background material regarding the Marcellus Shale formation and gas drilling visit http://www.
Please see Tuesday’s Democrat for a more detailed look at the DEC draft and comments from interested groups and individuals.