(Trenton Black River well drilled on Nobles Hill, Van Etten; photo by Rusty Keeler)
Even as the NY Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) drafted the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) and collected more than 10,000 comments, the Minerals Division continued to issue drilling permits. Last year gas companies submitted 289 permit applications to the DEC and the agency issued 240 permits for drilling gas wells. That’s about half of the number of permits they approved in 2008, but a clear indication that if a company wants to drill for gas, DEC is open for business.
Just last month DEC issued two well for
Sandy Florian, a representative from Western Land Services, dropped into the Van Etten town board meeting to inform them that Epsilon had applied for the permits plus another just over the border in Barton. The wells won't be fracked, he assured the town councilors.
Dave Matz, vice president of operations at Epsilon, verified that fracking was not contemplated "at this time". He said they would have to evaluate it once they got drilling.Matz expects DEC to issue the permits soon, possibly by next week. But the actual drilling won't start for another month - first they have to construct the well pads. Once the drilling starts, each well should take about five to seven days to drill, Matz said.
These half-dozen wells are just the tip of the iceberg, though. Florian told the Van Etten town board that Epsilon intends to submit applications for 40 additional wells across Erin, Van Etten and Barton. Matz, however, wouldn’t confirm that number. “We’ll have to wait and see,” he said.