New York is about to OK fracking despite ongoing protests against the controversial practice.
CBS reported the announcement and said details of the plan’s regulations are expected soon.
There has been a ban on drilling permits since 2008. Officials wanted to conduct environmental tests to ensure public safety.
Many groups have protested the practice of fracking citing a concern for the environment and safety of New York’s residents. Protestors and environmentalists fear a tainting of clean waters. These groups feel that economic benefits cannot come at the expense of public safety and the environment.
Supporters of fracking cite a lack of solid evidence that the practice puts the public at harm. They are interested in the possible financial benefits of natural gas drilling and the abundant supply found underground.
ShaleStuff.com reported on Aug. 16 that gas drilling opponents were seeking to hamper Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s campaign efforts amid rumors that the governor plans to allow drilling in certain areas. In that article, ShaleStuff featured aspects of the possible plan as reported by Tom Wilbur, long-time environmental journalist and author, on his blog site. Wilbur had reported on his site that representatives from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation were presenting environmental groups with aspects of Cuomo’s plan.
According to the posting on Wilbur’s blog, the state would begin by approving 50 wells in New York, but located along the Millennium Pipeline, a 442-mile connection running from Canada to New York. The state’s Department of Environmental Conservation would require gathering pipelines and processing systems be in place before the first wells, a demand aimed at limiting venting of methane.
Other aspects of the plan as reported by Wilbur:
- Three monitoring wells would be required around each gas well.
- DEC staff will be required to complete 13 on-site inspections during the permitting and drilling of each well.
- Although fracking includes classified hazardous materials, fracking waste is exempt from federal hazardous waste laws. And state laws are subject to national exemption for the industry, so there is no way around this. With this exemption, the DEC will require a “closed-loop” process, where waste fluids would be stored in tanks and some of it will be “recycled,” but there is no technical definition for “recycling” or ways to effectively measure this. Accounting for how much waste will be produced, and where it will end up, remains a major issue for environmental groups.
- Permitting for each well would require a 15-day public comment period, but no public hearings.
- Inconclusive discussion regarding well plugging.
- The proposed plan would apply only to high volume hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. While vertical wells and those using 300,000 gallons or less of hydraulic fracking fluid would be exempt.
- Still up in the air is how the DEC will pay for all the added inspections and how the state will deal with home rule where courts have allowed local communities to ban drilling.