Monday, January 9, 2012

" Withdraw the SGEIS" says Hinchey

 Today Congressman Maurice Hinchey sent a letter to NY Governor Andrew Cuomo urging him to withdraw the SGEIS – the draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (dSGEIS) on high-volume horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus Shale and other shales. His reason: failure of the dSGEIS to take into account new information that has been discovered about the environmental, public health and economic risks associated with the natural gas drilling activity.

In his letter Hinchey wrote, “… I believe this document falls far short of what is needed to protect local communities from the risks posed by shale gas drilling and does not fully mitigate potential threats, including those to public health, drinking water, air quality, and municipal infrastructure.” He highlighted 10 specific problems that must be addressed before the state permits any drilling:

1.      The lack of a cumulative impact analysis of natural gas drilling in the Marcellus formation to understand the full impact drilling could have on our water resources, air quality, local roads and other public infrastructure.

2.      The lack of a full assessment of the public health impacts of gas drilling through an independent Health Impact Analysis, as called for by more than 250 health care professionals in an October 2011 letter to Governor Cuomo.

3.      The lack of a comprehensive wastewater treatment plan that details where and how large amounts of flowback and produced water will be treated or disposed, including how toxic or radioactive contaminants will be removed.

4.      The failure to prohibit the use of toxic chemicals in all fracturing fluids in order to prevent groundwater and surface water contamination.

5.      No requirement to publicly disclose all chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing fluid at each well site, including a proposed list of chemicals made public before drilling operations begin and the final list of chemicals and quantities used made public no later than 30 days after drilling operations are completed.

6.      The absence of a plan to identify New York areas prone to higher seismic activity and measures to prevent earthquakes potentially associated with horizontal hydraulic fracturing.

7.      The failure to require a dramatic increase in DEC resources and staffing devoted to the permitting and oversight activities related to high-volume hydraulic fracturing.

8.      No complete ban on land spreading of shale gas drilling waste fluids or prohibition on the use of reserve pits or centralized impoundments for fracking fluids and flowback water.

9.      No alignment of DEC's gas drilling permit rules with the requirements of secondary lending institutions covering oil and gas activity on mortgaged properties. These include pre-approval from banks and other lenders before signing gas leases, minimum setback requirements from residential structures, prohibition on certain drilling and process equipment, title insurance requirements, property assessments, and more.

10.  A failure to provide for an enhanced role for local governments to prohibit gas development that is incompatible with local land-use and zoning regulations.

You can read his entire letter here.

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