A hearing of our own: draft SGEIS hearing, Oneonta, 11/9

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.