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From the Desk of Senator Tom Libous
April 27, 2010

Dear ———-,

DEC announced last week that permit applications in the Syracuse and New York City watersheds will be excluded from their environmental review process. All applications for horizontal drilling in these watersheds would need to be reviewed on a case by case basis.

You can read DEC’s full announcement by clicking here.

What does that mean to us? With Syracuse and NYC watersheds having extra protection, this could do two things:

1) Help stop some of the New York City opposition to drilling.

2) Free up DEC’s review efforts to focus on permit applications outside of those areas.

We might see safe gas drilling begin sooner than we thought.

But, we still face opposition from New York City Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. You can read his statement on www.SafeDrillingNow.com. We have to keep fighting.

Best wishes,

Tom

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Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? : Two maps, two standards, part 2

Then again, maybe he reads our blog…

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MB writes:

I just attempted to call Grannis about this decision to do separate
reviews for NYC and Syracuse. I told the operator what my call was
about and I was transferred to the Division of Mineral Resources. I
asked them to please transfer me back to Grannis’s office. After I was
on hold for several minutes, someone answered my call and when I
explained that I was calling to register my displeasure at the plan to
give unequal treatment to different parts of the state, I was told
that they are not taking calls on this matter except through the
Division of Mineral Resources. She said that I could email my concerns
to Grannis, and then they would be documented. I told her I knew the
decision was not hers and I was not angry with her, but that I was
furious that the commissioner’s office is not taking calls on this
matter. I went ahead and told her that I was opposed to the unequal
treatment–she said she was keeping no record of the call. I told her
that I understood that, but I was telling her my position so that if
she got many, many similar calls, she could go and tell her superiors
that she had gotten a lot of calls in opposition to the unequal
treatment, even if the individual calls were not recorded. I also told
her that I have lived in and paid taxes in NY for over 25 years, and
that I bet if Chesapeake were to call about something they would get
through.

People calling about Walter Hang’s effort to get the dSGEIS withdrawn
have been getting similar treatment.

We live in this state and they are not taking our calls! Are they
deliberately trying to piss us off or what? Do they think this will
make us LESS determined to stop this nightmare? If I sound furious,
that’s because I am.

If you have not already done so, please consider calling and sending
emails to the appropriate officials to express your displeasure at the
DEC’s recent decision to create separate regulations for the NYC and
Syracuse watersheds. Phone numbers and email addresses are:

DEC Commissioner Alexander “Pete” Grannis:
518-402-8545
pgrannis@gw.dec.state.ny.us

EPA Region 2 Administrator Judith Enck:
212-637-5000
enck.judith@epa.gov

Governor David Paterson
518-474-8390
governor@chamber.state.ny.us

When contacting Grannis and Paterson, you may also wish to complain
about the fact that, as of last Friday, Grannis’s office was NOT
accepting phone calls on this issue: they were instead transferring
the calls to our “friends” over in the Division of Mineral Resources.

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Last week, high-profile news stories indicated that “DEC won’t allow gas drilling in ‘the watershed.’”  Is that true?

You may have heard or read that the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has decided not to allow gas drilling within the Catskill and Delaware watersheds, which supply water to NYC.

Don’t believe it.

On April 23rd the DEC announced that it will exclude unfiltered water supplies from its generic environmental impact statement. Instead gas drilling applicants will have to go through their own environmental review process to obtain permits. [1] In the 1992 GEIS there are other situations which trigger an additional environmental review.

The main question is why did the DEC decide to release this statement now, instead of including it in the final Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS)?

Here are three good reasons for this public relations stunt:

1. To diminish public opposition

Late last October, just before the start of the public review of the draft SGEIS, Aubrey K. McClendon, the head of Chesapeake Energy, announced that his company would not drill in the Catskill and Delaware watersheds. However, he was not willing to tear up their current leases, or sign a binding agreement never to drill there. Nor could he speak for the dozens of other gas drilling companies. The public saw through his maneuver and submitted over 14,000 comments to the draft.

It seems that Pete Grannis has been taking lessons from the CEO of Chesapeake Energy.

2. To try an end run around current proposed legislation

Over two dozen bills have been introduced in the NYS legislature about gas drilling. One that is gaining momentum calls for a state-wide moratorium until 120 days after the EPA finishes its report on hydrofracking. [2] Another proposed bill calls for a state-wide ban.

The last thing the DEC and the gas industry want is a multi-year moratorium. This press release is merely an attempt to stop these bills.

3. To try to avoid some legal requirements of their environmental review

NYS is in a very difficult position because no matter what they do they are going to get sued once the SGEIS is finalized. This move is an attempt to avoid some of those legal issues. However, it’s not likely to succeed since it simply creates a new legal challenge.

The point is this: gas drilling would still be allowed in unfiltered water supplies. The DEC’s decision does not block gas drilling anyplace, and it may not be legal.

[1]. DEC Press Release: DEC Announces Separate Review for Communities With “Filtration Avoidance Determinations”

[2]. Englebright bill, A10490

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Today, two maps to ponder.   Tomorrow, why.

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Public Hearing on the dSGEIS to be held in Oneonta,

Foothills Performing Arts Center, Atrium

Monday, November 9, 7:00 to 9:30 pm

Doors open at 6:00 pm

Local hearing for public comment on DEC’s Draft of the SGEIS

October 30, 2009, Oneonta, NY. The City of Oneonta and Otsego County together are holding a public hearing for citizens to voice concerns about the proposed regulations governing gas drilling in New York State.  Through the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement on the Oil, Gas and Solution Mining (SGEIS), the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) defines the safeguards drilling companies must take to preserve the quality of our groundwater, and how the DEC will monitor compliance.

DEC is holding hearings in other parts of the state, but officials in Oneonta and Otsego County feel it is important to hold a more locally accessible meeting.  This is an urgent need as many property owners throughout the county have signed leases and drilling has begun on two wells.  Recent drilling accidents in Pennsylvania have caused concern among local citizens.  The quality of the SGEIS will have a major impact on the quality and quantity of the water in our lakes, rivers, aquifers and wells.

Governor Paterson requested that the DEC develop a supplemental GEIS because the process of drilling that is coming to New York State is dramatically different from traditional gas drilling.  Hydrofracturing horizontally drilled wells involves highly toxic chemicals that even in very small quantities can poison our water.  This makes it vital that the laws governing the process be rigorous.  The comment period, ending November 30, is the final opportunity for input on the document.  It is imperative that we provide the most comprehensive feedback possible to make the regulations rigorous.

Experts, environmental organizations, and landowners have expressed concerns not only on many specific items in the draft, but also on the insufficient consideration of the cumulative impacts.  The DEC is required to consider all substantive comments before issuing the final SGEIS.  Comments at this meeting should be in one of the categories the DEC considers substantive.  This includes: definition of the project; definition of each issue & conclusions about its impact; methods of mitigation; implementation.  For example, substantive comments would include topics such as whether the DEC: looks only at individual well sites without assessing impact of a significant number of wells statewide; adequately addresses the impact of this scale of water withdrawals; proposes sufficient baseline water testing; requires the rate of drilling of new wells be done in phases.

Read the parts of the 804 page document that are of most concern to you.  It is available on the DEC website at www.dec.ny.gov/energy/58440.html , or you can see a printout at the Huntington Library.

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NYS Seal
ASSEMBLY STANDING COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION
NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING

SUBJECT:
Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement governing natural gas drilling.
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PURPOSE:
To solicit public input on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement governing natural gas drilling.
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ALBANY
Thursday
October 15, 2009
9:00 a.m.
Assembly Parlor
New York State Capitol – Room 306
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On September 30, 2009, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation released a draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) regarding well permit issuance for horizontal drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing to develop the Marcellus shale and other low-permeability gas reserves. The purpose of this hearing is to solicit public input on the draft SGEIS.

Persons wishing to present pertinent testimony to the Committee at the above hearing should complete and return the enclosed reply form as soon as possible. It is important that the reply form be fully completed and returned so that persons may be notified in the event of emergency postponement or cancellation. Oral testimony will be limited to ten minutes’ duration. Ten copies of any prepared testimony should be submitted at the hearing registration desk. The Committee would appreciate advance receipt of prepared statements.

In order to meet the needs of those who may have a disability, the Assembly, in accordance with its policy of non-discrimination on the basis of disability, as well as the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), has made its facilities and services available to all individuals with disabilities. For individuals with disabilities, accommodations will be provided, upon reasonable request, to afford such individuals access and admission to Assembly facilities and activities.

Robert K. Sweeney
Member of Assembly
Chairman
Committee on Environmental Conservation
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2 weeks to read 800 pages
2 hours to drive to Albany
10 minutes to present comment
hmmmm……

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From http://www.citizenscampaign.org/

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CITIZENS CAMPAIGN FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
ACTION ALERT!

TELL ALBANY TO LISTEN TO THE PEOPLE AND PROTECT WATER

ccewater_faucet_fire

The public needs 120 days to review massive new draft oil and gas drilling regulations

On September 30, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) finally released the long-awaited Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (DSGEIS) for Oil & Gas Drilling in New York. The document is over 800 pages long, and Albany is only giving the people 60 days to review it. Tell Albany it cannot ignore the people! New Yorkers must be able to understand and weigh in on this issue. Meaningful input from the public is essential for a healthy democracy.

Tell Albany to give New Yorkers 120 days to comment on this massive program that will affect our environment for decades.

The huge oil and gas industry is pressuring Albany to open up for drilling in the state. New Yorkers cannot afford to rush through a process that will affect the health of our precious water resources for decades to come. Unconventional drilling from high volume hydraulic fracturing uses millions of gallons of water. Only a few days ago, Cabot Oil & Gas in Pennsylvania was shut down for chemical spills. New York’s elected officials need to proceed with caution and take extraordinary steps to ensure the protection of New York’s most valuable natural resource, freshwater. Albany must hold at least 7 public hearings in the affected regions of the state and allow adequate time for the people to comment.

Information from the NYS DEC on the DSGEIS can be found here:
http://www.dec.ny.gov/energy/47554.html.

What You Can Do!
Call Governor Paterson, DEC Commissioner Grannis, and your state Assembly member and senator to demand that Albany does not rush to accommodate the oil & gas industry, and allows the people of New York to weigh in on their future!

Phone call tips:

Tell them:

  • Your name and your town/city.
  • The DEC must extend the oil and gas drilling comment period to 120 days.
  • The DEC must hold at least 7 public hearings in affected regions, including New York City.

Please call:

Thank you for taking action. Together we make a difference!

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800 pages / 60 days = 13.49 pages per day.

DEC says it intends to schedule “Public Information Sessions” - not hearings.

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Dr Bill Pammer, then of the Sullivan County Planning Department, spoke at an event in Ithaca, NY on May 6, 2009. While discussing what local governments could do to protect their assets before intensive gas extraction begins, he said:

“The DEC is driving this process.
Regulators become part of the sectors they regulate.”

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