New York Fracturing Regs Among Toughest in Country, Underscore Central Role that States Play in Regulating Critical Technology

Release of DEC rules governing hydraulic fracturing, horizontal drilling puts supporters of EPA-only regulatory approach envisioned under anti-FRAC Act in serious bind

Washington, DC – Last night, New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) released a series of new rules governing the safe and responsible development of abundant natural gas reserves found in the state’s Marcellus Shale formation.

If enacted in full, the regulations would rank among the most restrictive in the nation, but, contrary to the wishes of anti-energy activists, would allow work to proceed in the area — and thus facilitate the creation of hundreds of thousands of high-wage jobs, hundreds of millions in local wages, and billions in economic output for New York.

In response to the release of New York’s long-awaited Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS), Energy In Depth policy director Lee Fuller released the following statement:

“The oil and gas industry is among the most heavily regulated sectors in America, and hydraulic fracturing is among the most heavily regulated activities within that industry. For those who believe that states do not actively and aggressively regulate this critical, job-creating energy technology – yesterday’s announcement from DEC should put that notion to bed once and for all.

“Amazingly, even on a day when DEC released some of the most restrictive fracturing rules in the entire country, some would rather throw out the entire document, render the review process null and void, and hand over to EPA the authority to do what DEC is more than capable of doing itself. This speaks to the fundamental difference between these DEC rules and Rep. Hinchey’s FRAC Act: The former envisions energy exploration taking place, albeit within tightly defined regulatory parameters; the latter seeks to end it in its entirety.”

Brad Gill, executive director of the Independent Oil & Gas Assn. of New York, and a member of Energy In Depth, also commented on the SGEIS’s release:

“We have begun a review of the SGEIS and remain hopeful that the state DEC has found a balance that continues to protect New York’s environment and allows responsible exploration for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale. This rich deposit of natural gas holds tremendous economic potential for New York. A regulatory structure that is tough but fair will allow this state to realize this tremendous opportunity.”

Among the key findings put forth in the DEC report:

“Hydraulic fracturing occurs after the well is cased and cemented to protect fresh water zones and isolate the target hydrocarbon-bearing zone.”

“[T]ext in Chapter 6 along with Appendix 11 on subsurface fluid mobility explains why ground water contamination by migration of fracturing fluid is not a reasonably foreseeable impact.”

“The combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing is widely used in other areas of the United States as a means of recovering gas from tight shale formations.”

“The hydraulic fracturing product additives proposed for use in [New York] and used for fracturing horizontal Marcellus shale wells in other states contain similar types of chemical constituents as the products that have been used for many years for hydraulic fracturing of traditional vertical wells.”

“Transporting frac additives … is comprehensively regulated under existing regulations.”

“For any given area and formation, hydraulic fracturing design is an iterative process, i.e., it is continually improved and refined as development progresses and more data is collected.”

“The regulated industries provide jobs and economic stimulus through the purchase of goods and services, and the payment of taxes, royalties and leasing bonuses.”



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