DSGEIS Responses

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Contents

How to Respond to the SGEIS

  • Use this site to help craft your comments on the dSGEIS to the DEC, your elected officials, the press and Governor Cuomo. Use this URL to link to this site: http://tinyurl.com/dSGEIS-Responses
  • The SGEIS may be the de facto industrial land use plan for Upstate towns without land use ordinance.

* The SGEIS is the proposed environmental regulations, the drilling regulations are here http://tinyurl.com/FrackingRegulations

How to Respond to the DEC's Online Response Categories

* Responses are due by the close of day on January 11 - so mail your comments well before then - the sooner and the more the better.

  • The DEC has listed 25 topics to respond to, listed below with commentary, included some open-ended ones, inviting responses on any topic relevant to the SGEIS
  • Review the 25 categories and make some notes as to which ones you want to respond to.
  • In addition to posting a response to each topic, you can attach up to 5 files after each response.
  • If you use the online response form, you should copy your response to the DEC via snail mail.
  • Shown below are examples of responses to some of the 25 categories, with white papers attached for a detailed response. You can use these to guide your own response.

* Follow these steps:

1. In a separate window from this window, open and log onto the dSGEIS online response site here http://www.dec.ny.gov/energy/76838.html

2. Pick one of the 25 Categories to respond to, then return to this dSGEIS Responses window

3. From this dSGEIS Responses window, copy the appropriate response from the list of 25 categories below

4. Go back to the DEC form and paste that response into the DEC form, then edit it completely and amend it with your own thoughts and references

5. You can open another window and add additional references from this site: http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=2011_SGEIS_Flaws(NY)

6. Hit "Submit This Comment"

7. Attach up to 5 files with your response. Hit Submit Another Comment.

8. Repeat until you have sent responses on as many of the 25 categories as you can.

* If you would like pdf or Word doc. copies of these responses, send us an email northrup49@gmail.com.

http://tinyurl.com/ChipNorthrupVideo

* For white papers on some of the major topics - http://www.scribd.com/northrup49

1. General Comments on the SGEIS

New York Is Totally Unprepared to Regulate Shale Gas Industrialization

  • The SGEIS illustrates how unprepared New York State is for horizontal hydrofracking of shale. The DEC is understaffed to deal with the activity, the State of New York is not even prepared to tax it adequately. There are no facilities in the state to get rid of the billions of gallons of fracking flowback. And the economic study overstates the benefits by a factor of 5 or more, as discussed in this response: http://www.scribd.com/doc/65100325/SGEIS-General

* Other state agencies, notably DOT and the Controller are aware of the problems that the DEC has not adequately addressed http://www.osc.state.ny.us/press/releases/dec11/DEC_martens_letter.pdf

* The proposed guidelines would amount to a de facto industrializaton of Upstate towns that do not have land use laws. http://www.scribd.com/doc/65308566/SGEIS-Community-Impacts

* The DEC has deferred to local land use ordinances in accordance with nationwide standards regarding gas drilling and zoning. http://www.scribd.com/doc/63141534/NY-Gas-Well-Zoning

* The dSGEIS, despite its pretensions to being based on science, is a political document, with protections based entirely on population density. http://www.scribd.com/doc/66390117/SGEIS-Aquifers

* Given all of the state's deficiencies, New York has one of the worst regulatory regimes for shale gas in the United States. http://www.scribd.com/doc/72545747/Worst-Fracking-Regs

  • The state has no guidelines for gas leases, and local authorities are unable to track them, since they are often not filed by the gas company

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/02/us/drilling-down-fighting-over-oil-and-gas-well-leases.html?_r=2&hp

* The new proposed guidelines only apply to wells that require over 300,000 gallons to frack. Under 300,000 gallons, the regulations revert to the 1992 GEIS, which allows wells as close as 50 feet from a sole source drinking water lake or stream. See 8.1.C. of the GEIS.

2. New Section on Socioeconomic Conditions, Impacts and Mitigation

Hype In/ Hype Out Based On Voodoo Gas Reserve Estimates and a Complete Neglect of Costs

  • The E&E famously failed to address the cost impacts, so local communities have done their own assessments

http://www.scribd.com/doc/76653514/Shale-Gas-Impacts-on-Tompkins-County

  • This report, and the references to if in the dSGEIS appears to have been thrown together in haste to justify allowing hydrofracking to go forward based on economic expediency. Regardless, it exemplifies the rather shoddy approach the DEC takes since there is little "socio" component to the report, no consideration of the negative impacts of shale gas industrialization on home values, village centers, other industry, the environment, people's health, etc. It is a whitewash of the negative effects of shale gas industrialization. http://www.greenchoices.cornell.edu/development/marcellus/policy.cfm
  • The "economic" section of the report is premised on 30 year well lives (there are no 30 year old horizontal shale gas wells) and overstates jobs, etc. by a factor of 5 or more, hype in / hype out based entirely on voodoo gas reserve estimates that had been discredited by the time the economic report came out. http://www.scribd.com/doc/68519448/NY-Gas-Reserve-Estimates
    How much gas is in the Marcellus Formation? That depends on who you ask... The gas industry says it's 5x more than the USGS.
    Shale Gas Decline Curves. The gas industry tells landowners that wells produce for decades. But their own internal documents show that most of the gas is gone after just 5 years.
  • The report fails to state what reserve estimates were used, only that they were furnished by a gas booster group - not a geologist. Which indicates that the group (IOGA) either does not know how to estimate reserves, or were overstating them intentionally - and the DEC was not competent to catch the mistake before publishing the findings: http://www.scribd.com/doc/65070417/SGEIS-Socioeconomic-Hype
  • The DEC fails to take into consideration the actual economics of horizontal shale gas drilling. At current and projected gas prices, it is likely that gas production from the Marcellus would be only a break-even proposition, at best. The weak economics of the Marcellus belie all the bullish projections of the E&E report - which fail to address the actual economics of shale gas production. http://my.brainshark.com/Voodoo-Frackonomics-663835911#
  • The E&E study failed to take into account the real damage done to residential property values near drilling sites. The loss in value can be catastrophic, and can effectively render some homes uninsurable and without the ability to obtain mortgages. http://www.scribd.com/doc/70784790/Fracking-the-Homestead

3. New Section on Visual And Noise Impacts and Mitigation

Much Ado About How the DEC Does Not Have Any Noise Pollution, Light Pollution and View Standards

  • This issues are properly dealt with via local ordinances - which are commonly applied in other states to drilling. The DEC proposes no objective standards, no regulations for noise and visual impacts, no new setback from existing structures for HVHF wells, leaving a regulatory void to be filled by municipalities. Indeed, it would be a bit preposterous for the woefully undermanned DEC to imply that it could effectively enforce a noise ordinance on drilling operations in a township. So this new section reads as so much boiler-plate, of no use to actually mitigate noise and light pollution, which can only be dealt with effectively by local ordinances. See this response: http://www.scribd.com/doc/65111612/SGEIS-Noise-Impacts

4. New Sections on Existing Transportation Conditions, Impacts, and Mitigation

The DEC Does Not Regulate Trucking. The State has no revenue from shale gas to pay for the damages done to state roads and bridges.

  • The dSGEIS mentions the impact of trucking, but there are no proposed regulations to deal with it, or to require the driller to deal with it.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/76437212/Frack-Truck-Impacts-on-Towns

  • * The impact of trucking in shale gas industrialization can be massively disruptive to rural communities. The draft SGEIS addresses the negative impacts of frack truck convoys in a cursory, oblique manner; see for instance 6.11 and 7.11.1.1. That is because the DEC has no regulatory authority over trucking. Indeed, the state has no ability to enter into road use agreements with trucking operations. And, as a practical matter, little control over such convoys other than speeding tickets and safety violations, which are poorly enforced on rural roads.
  • All New Yorkers in Upstate would experience the negative impacts of HVHF in the form of increased truck traffic - there are no prohibitions in place, no mitigating factors, and no offset for the cost of damage to roads, bridges, traffic crowding other users off the road, car repairs and damage to windshields. Most insidiously, there is no offset for the loss in property values for buildings along trucking routes, nor is this taken accurately into account in the Socio Economic study. See for instance, http://my.brainshark.com/Frack-Truck-Convoys-By-Chip-Northrup-142091865
  • Few counties or towns have enacted road use ordinance in New York State, although such ordinances are lawful at the county, town or village level, and will be imperative for HvHF to proceed without devastating local roads without compensation from the industry. http://my.brainshark.com/Road-Use-Ordinances-in-New-York-224232466
  • The DEC should not issue a drilling permit without proof of compliance with local road use laws.

5. New Section on Community Character Impacts and Mitigation

The Absence of Adequate Protections in the dSGEIS Are a Justification for Local Ordinances.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/76438692/Shale-Gas-Impacts-on-Communities

  • This section goes around in circles to avoid the obvious: the aspirations, goals and character of a community are reflected and defined by its built environment, its land use plans, and its local laws; ie. its ordinances. The understaffed DEC may comment on these matters, but it cannot define them for a community, nor can it adequately protect a community from the negative impacts of shale gas industrialization. That is the proper task of the community itself - as embodied in its laws. For this reason, the DEC has consistently deferred to local ordinances. http://www.scribd.com/doc/63141534/NY-Gas-Well-Zoning

* The DEC proposes no new setbacks for HVHF wells from existing structures in its draft regulations, which leaves the setback where they are in the GEIS Chapter 17 A.1. B. 1. b., which is 100 feet from a house, which would be illegal under any other state or local zoning law that addresses oil and gas wells, leaving New York with the worst regulations in the nation. http://www.scribd.com/doc/72545747/Worst-Fracking-Regs

  • The DEC proposes no objective standard for noise pollution. The lack of protections will have to be dealt with local ordinances.
  • Many New York cities and towns have figured this out and have taken steps to protect their citizens.

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=File:Edelstein-bans-vs-population-bubble-fracking.jpg

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=File:Edelstein_Slides_7-25-11_Page_04.png

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=File:Edelstein_Slides_7-25-11_Page_06.png

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AtfSL1RGXEFqdE8zdWhkb2V4cWRXUVBVUnlwRzhsZ2c&hl=en_US#gid=0

This map shows towns that have taken action to protect themselves from shale gas industrialization. Bubble size is a function of the total area of the Utica Shale in NY and the population living over the Utica.

Edelstein-bans-vs-population-bubble-fracking.jpg

* The DEC has honored local land use ordinances - it should do so with shale gas industrialization http://shaleshockmedia.org/2011/11/24/3-david-slottje-enfield-legal-presentations-11-17-11-2/

6. New Local Government Notification and Coordination Requirements

  • The DEC did not involve any municipalities or counties in any drafts of the SGEIS. While the notification prior to issuing a well permit is a welcome change, the local government should be able to exercise all of its police powers over shale gas industrialization as is the norm in other states. http://www.scribd.com/doc/63141534/NYzoning

7. Requirements for Mandatory Disclosure of Hydraulic Fracturing Additives & Alternatives

  • Disclosure of all frack fluid chemicals should be mandatory or no permit should be issued. There should be no exceptions to this, no "trade secret" loopholes.

8. Enhanced Requirements for Well Construction and Management of Drill Cuttings

Additional Casings Will Not Prevent Gas Wells From Polluting Groundwater With Methane - Which They Do, Frequently. http://www.biology.duke.edu/jackson/pnas2011.pdf

http://www.scribd.com/doc/76174462/Schlumberger-Gas-Leak-Study

9. Prohibition on Well Pads In NYC and Syracuse Watersheds and 4,000 Foot Buffer

New York City Residents Are Protected. No One In Upstate Is Protected.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/76434098/DEC-s-Disparate-Treatment-of-Water

  • The disparate treatment of NYC water, and the treatment of other water sources has created a truism in these proposed guidelines = the more voters that use the water, the greater the protections. No voters, no protection. The proposed gas well setback from trout streams is only 150', ostensibly as a nod to fishermen and to protect drilling crews from falling in and drowning. So fish will get gassed. Thus, protections are based on political science - the science of vote counting - not hydrology, not geology, not based on the known risks of pollution from horizontal shale gas wells. http://www.scribd.com/doc/65224175/SGEIS-NYC-Reservoirs
  • The "buffer" of 4,000 feet is less than the length of a horizontal lateral - meaning a shale gas well could be drilled under the watershed from a well pad located outside the watershed.
  • The protection for these reservoirs could be changed by the DEC at any time.

10. Prohibition on Wellpads in 2000 ft. Buffer Around Other Public Drinking Supplies

  • The proposed setback would virtually guarantee that many New York lakes would get gassed and polluted by shale gas industrialization. There is no "science" involved in any of these proposed setbacks. http://www.scribd.com/doc/66390117/SGEIS-Aquifers

* All of the proposed setbacks are less than the length of horizontal laterals - meaning a horizontal shale well could be fracked under a municipal drinking water length.

  • The setback proposed is provisional. There is no mechanism proposed to increase the setback based on experience, topography, etc.

* The new proposed guidelines only apply to wells that require over 300,000 gallons to frack. Under 300,000 gallons, the regulations revert to the 1992 GEIS, which allows wells as close as 50 feet from a sole source drinking water lake or stream. See 8.1.C. of the GEIS.

11. Prohibition on Well Pads in 500 foot Buffer Around Private Water Wells

The proposed setback would insure that many water wells within a kilometer of a gas well will be polluted with drilling mud, then gassed

* The DEC'S well construction requirements will virtually assure that water wells will be gassed up to a kilometer away http://www.scribd.com/doc/65577477/SGEIS-Well-Construction

  • The proposed gas well setback from a private water well is 500 feet, which is 100 feet less than the setback in the Fort Worth, Texas zoning ordinance - where there are no shallow private water wells. There is no hydrology, no topography, no geology, no science involved in the DEC's proposed setbacks, only political science. Gassing one water well at a time is apparently acceptable collateral damage for the DEC. The DEC goes to considerable lengths to ignore all the empirical evidence that drilling gas wells is a sure way to infuse groundwater with methane. All water should be protected based on real science, not just political science. http://www.scribd.com/doc/65079406/SGEIS-Water-Setbacks
    How populations affects water supply protections (Northrup)

12. Prohibition on Wellpads in Primary Aquifers and 500 ft. Buffer

The primary science involved in the dSGEIS is Political Science - vote counting.

The treatment of Principal and Primary aquifers, whose only difference is the population served, conclusively shows that the protections proposed by the dSGEIS guidelines are based exclusively on political science. That the level of protection is a function of population, and that below the protections afforded New York City, the protections are inadequate. The notion that "science" has much of anything to do with the dSGEIS is nonsense. Most scientist realize this. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=safety-first-fracking-second

* The new proposed guidelines only apply to wells that require over 300,000 gallons to frack. Under 300,000 gallons, the regulations revert to the 1992 GEIS, which allows wells as close as 50 feet from a sole source drinking water lake or stream. See 8.1.C. of the GEIS.

13. Prohibition on Well Pads In 100 Year Flood Plains

  • The "100 year" standard is routinely breached every 10 years or so in much of Upstate. So this is not sufficient. The DEC won't know what constitutes a 100 year flood plain until it completes a study of the matter. No wells, no gas processing, no storage pits or tanks or any ancillary facility should be allowed in 500 year flood plains. Even the DEC knows that 100 year flood plains are a misnomer. http://www.stargazette.com/article/20111010/NEWS01/110100364/DEC-update-Southern-Tier-flood-maps

14. Prohibition on Wellpads on State-owned Lands Administered by DEC

  • Since all major lakes are owned by the State, this prohibition should apply to all major lakes. Meaning no drilling under them.
  • The setback from state lands should follow the best practices of other states - such as the one mile setback in Utah from state parks
  • The DEC does not administer State Parks, so this prohibition does not apply to state parks, which are left vulnerable to fracking by these regulations.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/72545747/Worst-Fracking-Regs

15. Requirement for Site-specific SEQRA Determination for Wellpads in Principal Aquifers...

* The new proposed guidelines only apply to wells that require over 300,000 gallons to frack. Under 300,000 gallons, the regulations revert to the 1992 GEIS, which allows wells as close as 50 feet from a sole source drinking water lake or stream. See 8.1.C. of the GEIS.

16. Requirement for Site-specific SEQRA Determination for Certain Water Withdrawals

  • No water should be used for fracking operations without a SEQRA and a fee.

17. Passby Flow: Calculation Methodology and Well Permit Conditions

18. Requirements Related to Forest and Grassland Focus Areas

  • No standards are proposed for replanting or replacing trees felled or repairing grasslands disturbed.

19. Requirements for Invasive Species Management Plan and Practices

  • Not clear how this merited one of the 25 response categories, while ignoring more substantive issues like health impacts. But clearly the cutting of trees and construction of roads to well pads and gathering systems in a fragile landscape will introduce a particularly pernicious invasive species - drilling and fracking operations run by transient crews. Other pests and noxious plants may hitch-hike along with that.


20. Air Permitting Process and Well Permit Conditions for Avoiding or Mitigating Adverse Air

* The DEC almost completely ignores the fact that gas processing plants in the field - which split the raw gas into methane, propane, etc. - are notoriously unregulated sources of pollution - radon, benzene, and other toxic gases - which are vented from the gas processing plants in the field. Waste gas is routinely vented and poorly regulated. http://www.scribd.com/doc/70461168/Venting-Flaring-Gas

  • Almost all aspects of drilling and fracking a shale gas well creates air pollution, much of which in turn creates ozone. In a valley on a still day, this almost guarantees that localized air quality will suffer.

21. Air Impact Assessment, Supplemental Modeling, and Assessment of Regional Emissions

  • The shale gas industrialization is a textbook way to pollute the air. Every aspect of shale gas industrialization, starting with the diesel trucks and diesel engines at the well site - are powerful polluters.

22. Air Quality Monitoring Program

  • Every aspect of shale gas industrialization pollutes the air - starting with the diesel truck traffic and continuing at the well site with diesel powered compressors and generators. The DEC does not have the staff to adequately enforce much less monitor air quality

23. Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Requirements

  • The production of any hydrocarbon is bound to increase greenhouse gas emissions, which in turn will exacerbate global warming. Natural gas is one of the worst culprits in this regard.

24. Comments on Other Revisions that are included in the 2011 dSGEIS

  • Use this section to address other topics in the SGEIS.

Frack Waste Cannot Be Disposed of Both Safely and Economically In New York

  • 7.1.7.1 Tracking Waste - While this sounds like a good idea, it seems unlikely that the DEC would be able to ever enforce any sort of tracking system on billions of gallons of fracking flowback - particularly since none of that flowback has any place to actually go in New York state. To be disposed of, it will either have to be trucked across two state lines, outside of the DEC's jurisdiction to disposal wells in Ohio or processing plants in Pennsylvania. Since Pennsylvania municipal treatment plants are not allowed to take fracking flowback, it has been trucked into New York for disposal - at municipal treatment plants that are not capable of cleaning it. Thus frack waste is already being bootlegged between states. The proposed tracking system might follow that bootlegging to the state line, but no further. No well permit should be issued unless the operator can prove how the frack waste will be finally disposed of. See: http://www.scribd.com/doc/65435029/SGEIS-Fracking-Flowback

25. Additional Changes You Think Should Be Reflected in the Final SGEIS

  • Use this category to address topics that should be in the SGEIS but are ignored - like health impacts, setbacks from building, etc.

For example:

* Setbacks From Structures -

The DEC does not do land use planning. The dSGEIS proposes no new setbacks for shale gas wells from structures. Nor are any new setbacks proposed in the new regulations.

New York has the worst gas well setbacks in the United States. The DEC's setbacks would be illegal in most jurisdictions http://www.scribd.com/doc/72545747/Worst-Fracking-Regs

So a shale gas well falls under the GEIS guidelines and could be located within 150 feet from an elementary school. Or a hospital. Or 100 feet from a house. Which would put the mortgage into default.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/70784790/Fracking-the-Homestead

Such token setbacks would be illegal in most Western states under local zoning laws, where setbacks of 1,000 feet from housing would be more appropriate.

http://www.flower-mound.com/env_resources/pix/pdf/oilandgas_factsheet.pdf

This lack of adequate setbacks is a perfect argument in favor of applying Home Rule to well locations - as it is in most other states.

Like Colorado, where Anschutz is headquartered. Or Oklahoma, where Chesapeake is headquartered. Or Texas, where Range, Cabot and XTO are headquartered.

The DEC has consistently stated that it defers to local zoning. And the proposed regulations prove it. Only local land use controls would be adequate.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/63141534/NYzoning

* Compulsory Integration - Compulsory integration should not be applied to the lateral sections of wells. In a shale gas well, you cannot tap the gas unless you frack it, and you cannot tap gas from under a neighboring property without trespassing on it with the horizontal section of the well - the lateral.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/74790533/Compulsory-Integration-in-New-York

* Funding of Regulatory Oversight and Repair of Damages to State Property - New York state is one of the few places on earth that does not tax gas at the wellhead.

  • So the state derives no direct revenue from the activity and does not have a source of funding for regulatory oversight or funds to repair damage to state roads and bridges.

This the testimony at the November 30 th hearing from PEF/encon:

"Three minutes is not an adequate amount of time to fully convey the concerns of Division 169 of the New York State PEF, or PEF/encon, who represent the rapidly declining professional, technical and scientific staff of DEC. Therefore, we will be submitting more extensive comments for the public record before the public comment period is over. Almost everyone agrees that public regulatory involvement and oversight is necessary to protect the public, vital natural resources, and wildlife, as well as the natural gas industry itself from unjustified allegations of mis- and/or malfeasance with gas extraction activities. The point PEF/encon wishes to make loud and clear today is that the 25% reduction in existing staff at DEC has crippled our ability to carry out all existing regulatory and statutory responsibilities assigned to our agency. There is NO FRACKING WAY we can presently, honestly and adequately add any new responsibility as labor-intensive as regulating, monitoring and inspection activities related to high volume hydraulic fracturing of natural gas. DEC would also be hard pressed to adequately provide emergency remedial response in cleanup assistance for a major accident of any kind. Until there are adequate staffing resources available, the moratorium should be extended."

How To Send Snail Mail Comments To The DEC

  • You may comment on any aspect of the dSGEIS via snail mail. You should comment on as many aspects as possible, preferably in separate letters.
  • Copy the relevant section, add your thoughts and additional references and print them out as letters - the more the better. Mail them to the address shown below

Attn: dSGEIS Comments

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

625 Broadway

Albany, NY 12233-6510

Please include your name, address, and affiliation.

* This video discusses how to respond http://my.brainshark.com/SGEIS-Responses-614385127

* Use these comments as the basis of your response.

1. Copy the sections you are interested in from the chapters below,

2. Paste that into a Word doc,

3. Edit that with your own thoughts and input,

4. Add references and citations

5. Print and sign the letter with your address and affiliations, if any, and

6. Mail the letter to the DEC at the address shown above.

Chapter 1 - Introduction

The 2011 draft SGEIS is seriously flawed. It does not address issues required by law, and fails to follow procedures required by law.

• The 2011 draft SGEIS fails to address cumulative impacts or their remediation in any meaningful way as required by law. • There is no evaluation of the cumulative impacts of repeated fracking of the same well, which should include the repeated application of high pressure to well casings and cement and the impacts on roads of repeated fracking. • There is no discussion of the cumulative impacts on surface subsidence and its possible impact on drinking water aquifers. • There is no discussion or mitigation of cumulative impacts of drilling and fracking (under the purview of the DEC), combined with related activities that are under the purview of the Public Service Commission. These include construction and operation of pipelines, gas treatment plants and compression stations. The SGEIS should consider the combined cumulative impact of all these activities. • There is no discussion of the cumulative impacts or mitigation of dealing with flow-back fluids and produced fluids from the large number of wells that are projected. • Disposal of flow-back fluids and produced fluids to treatment plants that do little more than dilute the material before discharge into rivers or lakes will cumulatively result in increased levels of pollutants downstream. This must be addressed on a cumulative basis, not by treating each such discharge as a one-time inconsequential event. • Similarly the effect of repeated spreading of produced fluids (innocuously referred to as ‘brine”) on roads must be addressed on a cumulative basis, not as single events. • The 2001 draft SGEIS does not address the cumulative public health impacts from protracted and/or repeated human exposure to fracking additives, drilling fluids, methane gas, volatile hydrocarbons or other substances used in the drilling, fracking, processing and transportation related to natural gas, whether that exposure occurs at the drill site as a work place, at adjacent dwellings, in or near public buildings or at any other place that people might be exposed repeatedly to substances used in the entire process.

• In July of 2011, the DEC issued a preliminary draft of the 2011 SGEIS. This draft omitted entire sections concerning Transportation Infrastructure Impacts, Socio-economic Impacts, Visual Impacts, Noise Impacts, Road Impacts and Community Character Impacts. When these sections were added, in September of 2011, the DEC had changed none of its recommendations, indicating that all findings and mitigations had been pre-determined, without consideration of the previously missing information.

• The DEC has requested comments on proposed regulations to implement the 2011 draft SGEIS, and has simultaneously asked for comments on the 2011 draft SGEIS itself. The public cannot possibly comment meaningfully on regulations based on a draft SGEIS, because any changes in the draft SGEIS may necessitate changes in the regulations. The appropriate process is to collect and review comments on the draft SGEIS, prepare a final SGEIS based on those comments, prepare draft regulations based on the final SGEIS, request comments on the draft regulations, and prepare final regulations based on those comments. Anything short of this procedure indicates that the DEC is establishing regulations without proper public input.

The 2011 SGEIS must be withdrawn because it fails to meet all these and many other requirements of the law.

  • It is not clear who actually wrote much of the SGEIS, much of it is lifted whole from gas company brochures.
  • Even the definition of what constitutes a "high volume hydrofracked well" appears arbitrary

• The 2001 draft SGEIS provides no rationale for defining wells using 300,000 gallons or more of fracking water as “high–volume hydrofracturing wells.” The SGEIS offers no discussion whatsoever about why this would be an appropriate definition. The largest volume mentioned in the 1992 GEIS was 80,000 gallons. 300,000 would be an almost fourfold increase, for no apparent reason. • No plausible rationale exists for the DECs proposal to issue permits for wells using less than 300,000 gallons of fracking water under the 1992 GEIS. The 1992 GEIS was not written to cover this new type of drilling and fracking. The 1992 GEIS envisioned fracking water volumes in the 20,000- to 80,000-gallon range, and the practice of fracking in tight shale formations had not yet been developed. • These inconsistencies could result in adjacent wells being regulated under two significantly different protocols, which is absurd. • Fracking in tight shale formations with less than 300,000 gallons of water is much more closely related to fracking in tight shale formations using larger volumes of water than it is to fracking in the more conventional formations covered by the 1992 GEIS. • Under the DEC’s proposal, wells using less than 300,000 gallons of fracking water would not be required to use closed containers and secondary containment for fracking additives, drilling fluids and other chemicals and fuels. Open pits would be permitted, and other, less safe, requirements would apply to operations that are very similar to wells using more fracking water. • Under the DEC’s proposal, applicants for such wells would not be required to include information on compliance with local comprehensive plans or land use ordinances, and the DEC would have no obligation to inform local governments of permit applications under the 1992 GEIS. Local governments would have no way of knowing whether drilling operations with less than 300,000 gallons of frack water might be coming to their area, other than to constantly monitor permits issued by the DEC. • This appears to be an attempt by the industry to avoid using safer practices that would be required in the 2011 SGEIS. The 2011 SGEIS should apply to all gas wells in tight shale formations, regardless of the fracking volume.

Local land use ordinances are acknowledged for the first time.

* The DEC's proposed regulations effectively ignore or discount surface uses to the detriment of the community. The DEC proposes no new setbacks for HVHF wells from existing structures such a house - which is only 100 feet under the existing GEIS, or 150 feet from hospitals, nursing homes or schools. See GEIS Section 17 A.1. B. 1. b. Such a setback would be illegal under any zoning code in any municipality in any state. http://www.scribd.com/doc/72545747/Worst-Fracking-Regs'.

* The DEC has historically deferred to local land use ordinances - so local zoning should apply to gas wells - as it does in other states http://www.scribd.com/doc/63141534/NY-Gas-Well-Zoning

  • 1.7.5 Land Planning Documents

"Applications would compare the proposed wellpad location to local land use laws, regulations, plans and policies to determine if the proposed activity is consistent with these. If the applicant or local government informs the DEC of a conflict in this regard, the DEC would request additional information in considering whether significant adverse impacts relating to land us and zoning would result from permit issuance."

'The DEC, for the first time, acknowledges that it will take local land use ordinances into consideration in reviewing a well permit applications.'8.1.1.5 Your response should mention this as a necessary and sensible step forward, since the use of local land use ordinances to control well locations is the norm in most other states. in particular the states where some of the major shale gas companies are headquartered - ie. Texas. http://www.scribd.com/doc/63141534/NYzoning

Additionally, because the DEC is now recognizing Home Rule power, it is urgent that you petition your local community and build support to get your city council or town boards to pass land use (zoning) laws, road use laws, and/or prohibitions of undesirable activities. For help, contact attorneys Helen and David Slottje at Community Environmental Defense Council, Inc. (CEDC) http://www.cedclaw.org/

  • However, wells of less than 300,000 are exempt from local review - The DEC would require this certification of compliance with local comprehensive plans or land use laws only for wells with greater than 300,000 gallons of fracking. The requirement to certify compliance with land use laws should apply to all drilling, regardless of the size of the well, well pad or fracking volume. The current regulation leaves a loophole allowing the driller and the DEC to ignore local regulations if a well is small enough. A small well can be just as inconsistent with local comprehensive plans or land use laws as a large well. There is no reason to treat wells differently depending on their size. The DEC should remove all references to any minimum amount of fracking that would not require certification of compliance with local comprehensive plans or land use laws.

The dSGEIS states that impacts on community character, defined by the DEC as the economic, demographic and social characteristics of the affected communities, are expected to be significant. But the dSGEIS states that the determination of whether these impacts are positive or negative cannot be made and that any attempt to do so would be subjective anyway. Numerous court cases on the community character issue have outlined a proper level of analysis. The SEQR regulations are explicit that “creation of a material conflict with a community’s current plans or goals as officially approved or adopted” or “the impairment...of community...character” are significant adverse effects in the context of a significance determination.

To adequately assess impacts on community character, there needs to be documentation and an evaluation of communities that have adopted comprehensive plans and zoning regulations. This information is readily available from another State agency here. http://www.dos.state.ny.us/lg/publications/Rural_Resource_Survey.pdf The dSGEIS states that assessing impacts on community character is subjective. But once affected communities have been identified and using readily available information, an assessment can be made as to whether HVHF is compatible with a community’s goals. The Middlefield Land Use Analysis should provide some ideas for assessing impacts on community character. http://www.greenplan.org/GREENPLAN_Website/Our_Work/Entries/2011/6/14_Land_Use_Analysis__Gas_Drilling_%26_Fracking.html

The DEC should support clarification of Home Rule as it applies to drilling under New York law. Several bills have been introduced to bring New York in line with other states in regard to local controls over drilling activities, in order to insure that the regulatory authorities of cities and towns will not be overlooked. See for instance; http://open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/S5830-2011


  • 1.8 Additional Precautionary Measures

New York City reservoirs went from having no special protections in the first draft, to SEQR reviews in the 2nd draft, to an outright ban in this draft - due, ostensibly to their lack of sedimentation filters. No municipal water system and no private water wells in the state are capable of removing the known and unknown chemicals from fracking flowback, drilling fluid or drilling mud - so the fact that some municipal water systems have sedimentation filters is largely irrelevant to this type of pollution. http://63.134.196.109/documents/10sep21_McIntyre-DrinkingWaterinWatersheds.pdf All drinking water sources should be treated the same under the law.

  • Disparate Treatment of Drinking Water - HVHF "is not consistent with the preservation of these (NYC or Syracuse) watersheds as an unfiltered drinking water supply." HVHF is therefore not consistent with the preservation of watersheds supplying unfiltered drinking water to thousands of private wells http://www.scribd.com/doc/66390117/SGEIS-Aquifers
  • GEIS still controls- The Revised Draft sGEIS does not include the GEIS, though it is still applicable to vertical wells, flawed, and without any definitive regulations. The proposed HVHF regulations perpetuate some of the worst flaws of the GEIS, such as the inadequate setback of HVHFs from houses - which will make them uninsurable and unable to obtain mortgages.

* The new proposed guidelines only apply to wells that require over 300,000 gallons to frack. Under 300,000 gallons, the regulations revert to the 1992 GEIS, which allows wells as close as 50 feet from a sole source drinking water lake or stream. See 8.1.C. of the GEIS.

Chapter 2 - Description of Proposed Action

Contrary to popular belief, the SGEIS is not a set of rules and regulations. They are not a clear set of rules to be followed, but simply "guidelines" subject to interpretation and subject to being ignored. Until the DEC has a written set of regulations for permitting HVHF wells, no permits should be issued.The DEC has proposed a set of regulations for fracking shale. See this site for more details on how to comment before December 12th http://tinyurl.com/FrackingRegulations

The DEC estimates it will permit 1,600 HVHF wells a year for 30 years, but it fails to address what its own budgetary and staffing requirements are to undertake this task. Nor does it address the impact of the proposed activities on other agencies, such as DOT, DOH or the AG. The DEC has neither the staffing nor the funding to adequately regulate oil and gas production in the state now, as evidenced by its inability to plug the thousands of existing abandoned oil and gas wells. There is no reason to believe that the DEC will be able to enforce any of these proposed regulations, or indeed that the proposed SGEIS will even be reduced to a set of clear regulations that can be implemented and enforced effectively from Albany and a few understaffed field offices.

Chapter 3 - Proposed SEQR Review Process

  • 3.2.3.3 Distances -
  • The setbacks proposed by the DEC are primarily from water sources - and these setbacks are transparently based on political science, not hydrology.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/66390117/SGEIS-Aquifers

The DEC proposes no setbacks for shale gas wells from houses. So the setbacks remain at 100 feet from a house or 150 from a school as per the '92 GEIS. Section 17.A. 1. B. 1. b.

http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/materials_minerals_pdf/dgeisv2ch17.pdf

* The DEC's token setbacks are the worst in the nation. http://www.scribd.com/doc/72545747/Worst-Fracking-Regs

  • A gas well 100 feet from a house, would put the mortgage on the house in default and make the house worthless

http://www.scribd.com/doc/70784790/Fracking-the-Homestead

  • A meaningful setback of a gas well from a house would be on the order of 750 to 1,000 feet, as it is under zoning ordinances out West.
New York vs Other States
NY vs Other States
  • The DEC's token setbacks are a perfect argument in favor of local zoning to control gas well locations - or the prohibition thereof.
  • The greatest distance proposed for a setback from a shale gas well is from an abandoned oil and gas wells- one mile:

"Distance from the surface location of the proposed well to the surface location of any existing well that is listed in the Department’s Oil & Gas Database 12 or any other abandoned well identified by property owners or tenants within a) the spacing unit of the proposed well and/or b) within 1 mile (5,280 feet) of the proposed well location, whichever results in the greatest number of wells."

This is so that the lateral section of the shale gas well does not frack the well bore of the abandoned gas well - causing it to "fountain" up into groundwater - where it is probably already leaking.

* The new proposed guidelines only apply to wells that require over 300,000 gallons to frack. Under 300,000 gallons, the regulations revert to the 1992 GEIS, which allows wells as close as 50 feet from a sole source drinking water lake or stream. See 8.1.C. of the GEIS.

  • 3.2.3.9 Local Planning Documents -

The DEC requires the permit applicant to show whether the proposed well site is effected by local land use ordinances. While this is new to this draft, such a requirement would be common practice in most oil and gas producing states, where local land use controls. http://www.scribd.com/doc/63141534/NYzoning

  • 3.3 Regulations -

Regulations were never written for the 1992 GEIS, of which this is a monstrous "supplement". Therefore, there are no "regulations" per se. The permitting process is subject to the whims of the DEC staff. There are only 17 staff for Division of Mineral Resources to oversee 14,000 + active wells and new permits. To comment on the proposed regulations that the DEC's undermanned and overworked staff will be woefully unable to enforce, see this: http://tinyurl.com/FrackingRegulations

Chapter 4 - Geology

The DEC overstates the amount of shale gas reserves in the state by at least a factor of 5x. This renders the socioeconomic section of the dSGEIS useless for planning or policy purposes. http://www.scribd.com/doc/68519448/NY-Gas-Reserve-Estimates

  • The DEC fails to address the economics of drilling horizontal shale gas wells in New York - economics that are demonstrably problematic at current and projected gas prices.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/71446252/Frackonomics-3-0-Ponzi-Fracking-New-York

  • 4.1 Introduction

The productivity of horizontally hydrofracked wells has been routinely overstated in every field that they have been drilled since the technique was first widely commercialized in the Austin Chalk oil field in Central Texas. http://www.theoildrum.com/node/8212 This is probably the worst kept "secret" in the industry. But is a truism that must be brought to people's attention every time a new shale field is "discovered" by the laity. http://www.theoildrum.com/node/7075 The overstatement or "hype" can be both spatial - by geographic extent of acreage held by a drilling company (typically in order to boost their share price) or temporally, as to the expected life of the well, again to overstate their Proven Undeveloped reserves (PUD). http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/30/us/30gas.html?_r=2&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha23 The extent of the Marcellus's productivity has been consistently overstated by shale gas boosters, and this has warped the way it is viewed by the DEC. http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/business/s_753018.html

Accordingly, the DEC wildly overstates the shale gas reserves in New York. http://www.scribd.com/doc/65070417/SGEIS-Socioeconomic-Hype

Hydrofracturing near such faults can open up channels for the migration of fracking fluids and methane to drinking water aquifers and to the surface and atmosphere. The draft SGEIS has failed to disclose important information, and no mitigation has been proposed to deal with it. The draft SGEIS requires large distances from a proposed gas well to an abandoned gas well. Since geological faults can provide potentially much larger channels to the surface than abandoned gas wells, the DEC should at a minimum require that permit applications identify all known geological faults within a radius of at least two miles from any part of the proposed well.

http://my.brainshark.com/Fracking-Earthquakes-318380990

No part of a gas well should be allowed within two miles of a known geological fault. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/13/science/some-blame-hydraulic-fracturing-for-earthquake-epidemic.html

* Fracking can induce earthquakes as a function of the amount of fluid injected - http://www.nature.com/news/method-predicts-size-of-fracking-earthquakes-1.9608

  • The EPA confirmed in Wyomming that fracks can go "out of zone" via natural faulting and enter aquifers, polluting drinking water. The extent of faulting which could serve as vectors for such frack pollutants is poorly understood in Central New York. http://tinyurl.com/fracking-aquifers
  • 4.7 Naturally Occurring Methane

* The DEC ignores the science of how methane is mobilized into groundwater by gas wells http://www.scribd.com/doc/73405864/Anomaly-in-the-Duke-Methane-Study

Whether methane occurs naturally or not in groundwater is not in dispute. What the DEC ignores is the data that drilling often mobilizes methane into groundwater to dangerous levels, rendering the water unpotable, and that this is a common side-effect of drilling gas wells. The DEC has no good solution for this chronic problem. Indeed, the "solution" it proposes, an additional well casing, has demonstrably not solved the problem anywhere. http://www.scribd.com/doc/65577477/SGEIS-Well-Construction There is no clear solution to preventing drilling from infusing drinking water with methane, despite industry denials to the contrary. http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/stray-gas-plagues-nepa-marcellus-wells-1.1173187 The DEC completely misinterprets the results of the Duke study on methane contamination from drilling http://www.nicholas.duke.edu/cgc/index.html by first putting it in this section, and secondly misreading the data itself - implying that methane contamination by drilling is an anomaly, when the data shows that it is the norm.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/73405864/Anomaly-in-the-Duke-Methane-Study

When gas wells are drilled near shallow water wells, the drilling is likely to contaminate the wells - even in Texas drilling where shallow water wells are uncommon in shale gas areas. http://www.star-telegram.com/2011/06/23/3175947/parker-county-couple-sues-range.html See also Comments on SGEIS page 19. http://tinyurl.com/NorthrupSGEIS0711a
  • Health impacts of Methane in Water - There are no established safe levels of methane in drinking water. The New York State Department of Health should establish methane standards for drinking water, and the DEC should require gas well operations that assure those standards are met.

Chapter 5 - Natural Gas Development Activities & High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing

  • 5.13.1 Cuttings from Drilling

Shale is inherently radioactive - that is how it is identified when a well is logged with a gamma ray meter. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Formation_evaluation_gamma_ray The level of radioactivity varies, it is not uniform throughout the shale. Radioactivity cannot be determined based on a few museum samples, the cuttings have to be tested. http://www.scribd.com/doc/64407403/Radioactive-Waste-Management Disposal of mud cuttings should only be allowed in landfills that are permitted to take radioactive material. http://www.dcbureau.org/20101123992/bulldog-blog/pennsylvania-gas-drillers-dumping-radioactive-waste-in-new-york.html

  • 5.13.3 Flowback Water

Fracking wastewater is both toxic and radioactive. http://www.propublica.org/article/is-the-marcellus-shale-too-hot-to-handle-1109 .There are no safe disposal methods in New York for frack flowback water. The lack of such facilities must be addressed before permits for HVHF wells can be issued. http://nywea.org/gac/HFSCEvaluatingAcceptability.pdf The lack of such facilities has forced fracking contractors to take flowback to municipal treatment plants - which are not equipped to treat it, and to spread it on the roads as "de-icer".http://www.marcellus-shale.us/drilling_wastewater.htm

  • 5.13.3.1 Injection Wells

The DEC fails to note that there are only 6 permitted injection wells in the state, only 3 of which take fracking flowback. http://www.dec.ny.gov/energy/29856.html Texas has almost 12,000 such frack waste disposal wells. Even the Feds know that, absent injection wells, there are no safe ways to get rid of fracking flowback. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/21/opinion/sunday/the-debate-on-fracturing.html?_r=1&ref=opinion

  • 5.17 Well Plugging - The number of unplugged wells in New York is a disgrace. The state has no money to plug them. So they rust, leaving pathways for pollution into ground water. The SGEIS does not adequately address the chronic problem of well abandonment.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/77582900/Orphaned-NY-Oil-and-Gas-Wells

An experiment: Well Plugging

There are thousands of abandoned, unplugged oil and gas "orphaned" wells in New York. http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Energy-busts-create-mess-801773.php And the DEC has no funds to plug any of them properly, so they will rust and become pathways for pollution into the groundwater. http://www.propublica.org/article/deteriorating-oil-and-gas-wells-threaten-drinking-water-homes-across-the-co . The DEC has not addressed this existing problem and side-steps how to deal with the plugging of HVHF shale wells, which can have notoriously short productive lives. The longevity of shale wells is consistently overstated by the industry. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/30/us/30gas.html?_r=2&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha23 And once the original driller has produced what they can, the wells are sold to smaller operators, who will list them as "shut in" and walk away from them. The plugging expense proposed by a the DEC, $5,000 would not cover the cost of properly engineering a plugging operation of a HVHF well, much less cover the costs of plugging it properly, which would be on the order of $100,000 or 20x the amount proposed by the DEC.

Chapter 6 - Potential Environmental Impacts

The DEC mentions most of the impacts, but does not resolve some of the most significant impacts of shale gas industrialization, such as the gassing of groundwater by drilling http://www.scribd.com/doc/66390117/SGEIS-Aquifers or the lack of disposal facilities for frack waste flowback. Some of the most significant impacts, notably those from the massive amounts of trucking, are simply mentioned - in tedious detail, because the DEC asserts no authority over trucking, nor does it propose any regulations. Some of the fundamental impacts, such as groundwater pollution, are glossed over or discounted in a perfunctory manner. Some are simply not addressed at all - such as setbacks from housing for HVHF wells. Most of these impacts are left to the towns and cities to address via local ordinances.

  • Methane renders water non-potable and, in high enough concentrations, kills aquatic life. The only practical solution to this is to keep drilling away from shallow water wells, surface water and aquifers. Peer reviewed studies indicate the proper set-back would be in excess of 1,000 meters. See 7.1.4.2 http://www.pnas.org/content/108/20/8172.full
  • As wells age, the outside of the outermost casing is liable to leak, creating pathways for methane to rise into groundwater. Elevated pressures outside of the production stream increase with age - indicating that the casing is leaking. http://www.scribd.com/doc/65704543/Casing-Leaks
Gas wells leaking from the outer casing (Northrup)
Methane migration is a chronic problem (Ingraffea)
  • 6.1.7 Waste Transport Until proven otherwise, fracking flowback should be classified as hazardous waste.
  • 6.1.8.1 Publicly Owned Treatment Works - There is no evidence that any POWT in the state is equipped to treat fracking flowback from HVHF wells. POWTs should be prohibited for taking frack flowback from such wells. This is the law in other states and should be the law in New York.
  • 6.1.8.2 Private Offsite Wastewater Treatment and/or Reuse Facilities - Such facilities would generate an inordinate amount of truck traffic - including trucks carrying hazardous cargo in the form of recycled fracking flowback.
  • 6.1.9.1 Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (NORM) Considerations - Cuttings -This is one of the few places that the DEC addresses the problems of radioactive waste from shale gas industrialization. The DEC fails to adequately address problems associated with other more concentrated forms of radiation, such as recycled frack flowback, treated waste water - which concentrates the residuals into a radioactive sludge, or radon gas vented from gas separators, or vented from gas processing plants in the field. http://www.scribd.com/doc/64407403/Radioactive-Waste-Management
  • 6.2 Floodplain - The DEC and the Corps of Engineers no longer know where the 100 floodplain is in Upstate New York - since the "old" 100 year floodplain has been breached twice in the last 5 years.
  • Mitigation for Current 100 Year Floodplains is Not Enough

• The draft notes that flooding is one of the ways in which drilling brine and flow-back fluids could be released into the environment. (Section 6.2) • In section 7.2 the DEC proposes that high volume horizontal drilling not be permitted in 100-year flood plains. However, recent flooding from Hurricane Irene and Hurricane Lee, compounded by a wet fall, have shown that there are many areas which flooded in 2004 and 2006 but that are not listed on the floodplain maps and are therefore currently unprotected. • Setbacks must be based on protecting human health and the environment, not on gas drillers’ convenience. • The DEC notes that the 100-year floodplains need to be updated, but does not prohibit drilling in areas which have not yet been studied as floodplains. • Until such time as updated floodplain maps are available, the DEC should establish a safety buffer around the old flood plain maps of at least 1000 feet. • In addition, a permanent safety buffer of at least 300 feet should be established around updated floodplain maps.


  • 6.6 Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Opening statement not from a peer-reviews scientific journal, but from an industry source, using 15 year old data. The peer reviewed data from Cornell study is effectively ignored. http://www.eeb.cornell.edu/howarth/Marcellus.html 100 year time horizon apparently chosen because 20 year time horizon numbers are far worse. (Ingraffea, 7-25-11) Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, when burned it produces carbon dioxide, which is also a greenhouse gas, so shale gas industrialization is a textbook way to increase global warming, regardless of the size of its carbon footprint vs. coal; with which it is on par, at best. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=switching-to-natural-gas-power&page=2
  • Table 6-16 from Chesapeake study says that the estimated first year greenhouse emissions from a single vertical well are more than those from a horizontal well. This is clearly an error. Also, the same table says that from 4 wells, the emissions are not 4x, but less than 2x. Another clear error. (Ingraffea, 7-25-11)
  • 6.7 Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials in the Marcellus Shale - Frack waste processing concentrates radioactive materials in flowback to a highly radioactive sludge. There are no disposal wells in New York to get rid of any of this material. Reuse of flowback simply increases the radioactivity of the frack waste with each reuse. Reuse simply delays the problem of disposing of the radioactive waste. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. When radon is removed from natural gas, it is vented. It is heavier than air, so it sinks creating a hazard. The state is clearly incapable of dealing with the amount of radioactive material generated by shale gas industrialization. http://www.scribd.com/doc/64407403/Radioactive-Waste-Management

* 6.8 Socio Economic Impacts - The economic estimates - jobs, ad valorem taxes, etc. - are grossly overstated, since the consultant's economic impact study was done based on gas reserves estimates that were 5 times greater than current estimates. http://www.scribd.com/doc/65070417/SGEIS-Socioeconomic-Hype

  • The economic analysis fails to take into consideration the full extent of the negative effects on other businesses.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/63379732/Gas-Drilling-Economics

  • 6.8.1.2 Representative Regions - "Geological data on the extent and thickness of the low-permeability shale in New York State, including the Marcellus Shale and Utica Shale fairways, were the basis for these assumptions." The economic impact analysis was done based on data that substantially overstated the recoverable reserves in the Marcellus. Data that was revised after the economic analysis was complete. http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/business/s_753018.html
  • The DEC does not state which reserves estimates were used in the economic analysis, but they are likely from the EIA/ DOE estimates, which came out earlier in the year, but which are now discredited. So the economic benefit of shale gas industrialization is grossly overstated in the SGEIS. The economic impacts of shale gas industrialization happen town by town, municipality by municipality, not by "representative regions", as inferred by the DEC. http://www.scribd.com/doc/63144744/Fiscal-Effects-of-Gas-Drilling-in-Otsego-County-NY-8-15-11-Final
  • 6.10 Noise - This section, like the ones on truck traffic and light pollution are, for all practical purposes, regulatory whitewash, boiler-plate - since the DEC proposes no regulatory control or standards over noise, no setbacks from housing, hospitals or nursing homes for HVHF wells, nor does it refer to or defer to local ordinances on the matter. The regulation of noise is the proper function of a municipal noise ordinance. If a drilling operation is not in compliance with such an ordinance - despite the assertions to the contrary by the DEC in this section 6.10, the drilling operator will be subject to a fine because noise pollution is local matter, to be addressed by local laws. Any town reading this boilerplate is left to conclude that they must adopt a noise ordinance and enforce it.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/65111612/SGEIS-Noise-Impacts

http://www.scribd.com/doc/76438692/Shale-Gas-Impacts-on-Communities

  • 6.11 Transportation Impacts - Shale gas industrialization requires massive amounts of trucks. Despite all the boiler-plate in this section, the DEC asserts no authority to impose road use permit fees on drilling operations - the towns and counties have that authority. The DEC has no authority to regulate local roads, the towns and counties do. The DOT has no funds to pay for the expected damage to state roads and bridges; there is no revenue source in the state budget to offset these costs. Any town reading this section is left to conclude that they must adopt a road use plan and a road use permitting ordinance.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/76437212/Frack-Truck-Impacts-on-Towns

The DEC fails to take into consideration the costs to repair state and local roads - hundreds of millions of dollars, as estimated by DOT - http://www.scribd.com/doc/74102302/New-York-Shale-Gas-Road-Impact

Chapter 7 - Mitigation Measures

  • 7.1.3.2 Drilling Fluids

In the past drilling fluid or "mud" has contained asbestos powder. Recovered drilling mud contain drill cuttings from the shale which, by definition, have elevated levels of radioactivity. No open pits for drilling mud should be permitted on any gas wells, no loopholes.

  • The draft SGEIS proposes that wells using less than 300,000 gallons of fracking water be regulated under the 1992 GEIS, which allows open pits. All wells regardless of fracking volume should be brought under the 2011 SGEIS requirements, including those for pits.

• The draft SGEIS would allow some drill cuttings to be held in open pits, depending on the type of drilling fluid used. Regardless of the type of drilling fluid used, drill cuttings may contain hazardous chemicals or bacteria brought to the surface during the drilling process.


  • 7.1.4.2 Mitigation of impact @ 6.1.4 (methane migration) by use of new third cement casing. Additional casings will not prevent drilling from introducing methane into groundwater; which is a common phenomena of gas well drilling. http://www.biology.duke.edu/jackson/pnas2011.pdf.

* The DEC ignores the science on how methane it mobilized into groundwater by gas wells http://www.scribd.com/doc/73405864/Anomaly-in-the-Duke-Methane-Study

  • Over time, gas often channels up on the outside of the outermost casing between the casing and the surrounding rock, see illustration below entitled "Gas Wells Leak At The Outer Casing". So no additional casings will prevent the outermost casing from channeling gas upwards where it will render drinking water unpotable. http://www.scribd.com/doc/65577477/SGEIS-Well-Construction
Gas wells leaking from the outer casing (Northrup)
Methane migration is a chronic problem (Ingraffea)

A third casing is not new, nor has it proved to prevent gas migration. "How can something they're already using prevent something which is already happening?" (Ingraffea 7-25-11) http://www.tcgasmap.org/media/Ingraffea%20Slides%207-25-11.pdf . A 3rd string (between the surface casing and production casing has not "solved" gas migration into groundwater. A 3rd string is not a panacea. There is no statistical evidence that it works at all. http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/story/2011/01/05/shale-quebec-bape.html Even if leaks from the production casing are contained/ retarded, gas can channel up on the outside of the outermost casings. So you could have 5 casings (some Pa. wells already do) and still get gas migration up into groundwater. Pressure gradients are funny that well. So are dissimilar rates of expansion/ contraction between steel tubing and concrete. And imperfect bonds between concrete casings and the surrounding rocks as shown below, allows gas to channel up on the outside of the outermost casing. All these imperfections enable gas to channel into groundwater. Accordingly, methane contamination is not uncommon, even among new gas wells with multiple casings. http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/dep-investigating-methane-contamination-in-susquehanna-county-1.1192677

Methane migration at well head may indicate water contamination (Ingraffea)
A 4-layer casing which failed. (Ingraffea)
  • 7.1.7.1 Drilling and Production Waste Tracking Form

The DEC proposes to "track" waste disposal via self-reporting. Tracking will not work without adequate supervision because there is not enough DEC staff to monitor it. Since the closest disposal wells are in Ohio, the DEC would be put in a position of tracking frack waste out of state, across two state lines, beyond its jurisdiction. There is no place in New York to dispose of frack waste water. http://www.scribd.com/doc/65435029/SGEIS-Fracking-Flowback

  • 7.1.11.1 Horizontal setbacks - The proposed gas well setback from a private water well or domestic supply spring would be 500 feet, ‘unless waived by the landowner.’ A study by researchers from Duke University showed methane migration to water wells that were located 3000 feet from active producing gas wells. The DEC attempted to discredit this study by pointing to a single gas well in Otsego County where there were no unusual levels of methane detected in nearby water wells. However, the well in question, Ross 1 in the Town of Maryland, was never an active producing well (see DECs on-line well data report). That gas well never should have been included in the data.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/73405864/Anomaly-in-the-Duke-Methane-Study

The rest of the data using active producing wells in other states showed a significant probability of the migration of methane from gas wells to water wells up to 3000 feet away. Setbacks must be based on protecting human health and the environment, not on gas drillers’ convenience. The DEC should establish minimum horizontal distances between proposed gas wells and water wells of 3000 feet until such time as additional and definitive data is available on the migration of methane from gas wells to water wells.

  • 7.8 Protecting Visual Resources - Unless required a condition of obtaining a drilling permit, it is not clear how the DEC proposes to protect visual resources. This can most effectively be done by a local land use (zoning) ordinances. The DEC in the latest revision §1.7.5 has for the first time recognized Home Rule with regards to zoning ordinances for land use, and that "Applications would compare the proposed wellpad location to local land use laws, regulations, plans and policies to determine if the proposed activity is consistent with these. If the applicant or local government informs the DEC of a conflict in this regard, the DEC would request additional information in considering whether significant adverse impacts relating to land us and zoning would result from permit issuance." However, nothing in this is binding upon the DEC.
  • 7.9 Mitigating Noise and Light Impacts - The DEC proposes no noise standard, no setback from housing for HVHF wells, no "dark sky" compliant lighting. Unless a clear regulation that is a condition of permitting, this should be the subject of local noise ordinances, since enforcement of municipal noise ordinances is local, not within the DEC's authority. If the driller ignored local noise or light pollution ordinances, that would put the DEC on the side of noise and light polluters, to the detriment of the health, safety and welfare of the citizenry. On balance, since the DEC proposes no light and noise pollution standards, nor is it capable of enforcing such standards, a town is better off enforcing noise and light pollution standards, in anticipation of a judicial or legislative clarification of how these can be applied to the activity. http://www.scribd.com/doc/65111612/SGEIS-Noise-Impacts
  • 7.10 Mitigating Community Character Impacts - This can only be effectively addressed ordinances. The character of a community is defined by the community, not the DEC. The DEC proposes no objective standards - no noise ordinance, no setbacks for HVHF wells, no steep slope ordinance, no tree ordinance, no "dark sky" ordinance, nothing that would protect a community from the negative impacts of shale gas industrialization. http://www.scribd.com/doc/65308566/SGEIS-Community-Impacts
  • 7.10.3 Well Drilling and Hydraulic Fracturing - This is as close as the DEC gets to addressing a setback from a residence, which is only a token 100 feet:

"As discussed in the 1992 GEIS (NYSDEC 1992), moderate to significant noise impacts may be experienced within 1,000 feet of a well site during the drilling phase. With the extended duration of drilling and other activities involved with multi-well pads, the Department will review the location of multi-well pads closer than 1,000 feet to occupied structures and places of assembly and determine what mitigation is necessary to minimize impacts"

  • Vertical distances from aquifers - The dSGEIS would allow fracking just 1000 feet below the deepest aquifer.

Industry data shows fractures exceeding this distance at times. Thus, fracturing just 1000 feet below the deepest aquifer could allow fracking fluids to reach the aquifer. The 1000 feet distance is far less than the industry portrays in its statements and far less than the depths implied in the dSGEIS’s description of the drilling process. We are led to believe that fracking will occur many thousands of feet deep, so that the fluids could not reach drinking water aquifers. The DEC should require a minimum of 3000 feet between any fracking zone and the deepest drinking water aquifer.

  • 7.11.1.1 Development of Transportation Plans, Baseline Surveys, and Traffic Studies - Since the DEC has no jurisdiction over state, county or town roads, this section reads largely as boilerplate - and leaves communities dangerously exposed to the risks of high volume truck traffic - that they are ill-prepared to cope with. The applicant should be required to show that they have entered into a road use agreement with the county and town or demonstrate that the county and town have no such permitting and routing ordinances in place. As written, the applicant could get a well permit while ignoring local laws governing road use. Since the state and DEC have no authority to enter into road use agreements, the county and towns must be included in this process, since the DEC cannot enforce road routing and use permits. At a minimum, the DEC should require the applicant to show that they have entered into a county and town road use agreement prior to issuing the drilling permit.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/76437212/Frack-Truck-Impacts-on-Towns

Everyone living near or traveling through drilling areas in Upstate New York would experience the negative impacts of HVHF in the form of drastically increased truck traffic.

• According to the dSGEIS (table 6.60), each single horizontal well requires 1,149 heavy truck trips and 831 ‘light’ trucks, one way, which means roughly 4,000 truck trips per well. Table 6.63 shows that Region B, for example, would have 82,203,000 annual heavy truck trips under an average development scenario. Other regions have similar projected huge increases in truck traffic. Furthermore, the DEC has seriously underestimated the total number of trucks that would impact the area near each well pad. The DEC’s numbers include only trucks directly involved in the drilling process, not the additional trucks and equipment required to build gathering pipelines and compression stations, or to build or repair the roads that will be damaged by all the other trucks. The DEC should provide a realistic study of trucking impacts in conjunction with the New York State Department of Transportation.

• Much of the truck traffic associated directly or indirectly with drilling will move over county and town roads. Many counties and towns are in the process of developing road use ordinances and road use agreements. The DEC should require drillers to include in their permit application a certificate from the Town and County where the well is located, stating either that the Town or County has no road use ordinance or that the driller has agreed to a road use agreement. Without such a certificate, the permit application should be considered incomplete.

• Most of the truck traffic associated with each well will move a significant part of the distance on state roads. The DEC has provided no input from the NY State Department of Transportation on the ability of state roads and bridge infrastructure to handle this large increase in traffic; the costs that would have to be incurred to bring state roads and bridges up to standards that can handle the increased traffic; or the ongoing costs to maintain state roads and bridges with increased use. Drilling impacts on state roads will affect not only drilling and drilling-related use of state roads, but also the use of those roads for non-drilling-related commercial, commuter, tourist and other transportation. New York State currently has no revenue source derived from gas drilling that would help to pay for the damages done to roads and bridges. The impact of trucking associated with shale gas industrialization can be massively disruptive to rural communities. The DEC has no regulatory authority over trucking. Indeed, the state has no ability to enter into road use agreements with trucking operations. The DEC, in conjunction with the NYS Department of Transportation, should provide a comprehensive analysis of drilling and drilling-related impacts on state roads and bridges, as well as a concrete plan for covering the costs of these impacts. This draft SGEIS should be withdrawn until such analysis and plan are completed.

  • 7.12 Community Character Mitigation Measures - The DEC would not consider impacts on the community for regular wells - only horizontally hydrofracked wells of 300,000 gallons frack or more. This loophole would effectively allow any regular vertical well to be drilled anywhere in a village with no DEC oversight as to that well's impact on the village. Community character impacts should be considered for all gas wells.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/65308566/SGEIS-Community-Impacts

  • The DEC would require this certification of compliance with local comprehensive plans or land use laws only for wells with greater than 300,000 gallons of fracking. The requirement to certify compliance with land use laws should apply to all drilling, regardless of the size of the well, well pad or fracking volume. The current regulation leaves a loophole allowing the driller and the DEC to ignore local regulations if a well is small enough. A small well can be just as inconsistent with local comprehensive plans or land use laws as a large well. There is no reason to treat wells differently depending on their size. The DEC should remove all references to any minimum amount of fracking that would not require certification of compliance with local comprehensive plans or land use laws.
  • The first paragraph of the 2011 draft SGEIS 7.12 states "Local and regional planning documents are important in defining a community's character and are a principle way of managing change within a community. These plans are used to guide development and provide direction for land development regulations (e.g., zoning, noise control, and subdivision ordinances) and designation of special districts for economic development, historic preservation, and other reasons". However, later in this section, the DEC says if there is an inconsistency with land use laws the DEC would investigate "to determine whether this inconsistency raises significant adverse environmental impacts that have not been addressed in the SGEIS " (7.12 and 8.1.1.5)). The words "adverse environmental impacts" should be broadened to include adverse impacts on a community's character that are inconsistent with local land use laws and other ordinances. Better yet, the DEC should simply require drillers to comply with local land use laws.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/76438692/Shale-Gas-Impacts-on-Communities

Chapter 8 - Permit Process and Regulatory Coordination

  • The DEC does not have the capacity to take on the permitting of horizontally fracked shale wells.

* The Department of Minerals Resources has never been adequately staffed and has never had a complete set of rules and regulations - as detailed in this audit from 1994

http://www.scribd.com/doc/76085928/Worst-Practices-at-the-DEC

  • Here is PEF/econ's testimony from the Nov. 30th hearing:

"Three minutes is not an adequate amount of time to fully convey the concerns of Division 169 of the New York State PEF, or PEF/encon, who represent the rapidly declining professional, technical and scientific staff of DEC. Therefore, we will be submitting more extensive comments for the public record before the public comment period is over. Almost everyone agrees that public regulatory involvement and oversight is necessary to protect the public, vital natural resources, and wildlife, as well as the natural gas industry itself from unjustified allegations of mis- and/or malfeasance with gas extraction activities. The point PEF/encon wishes to make loud and clear today is that the 25% reduction in existing staff at DEC has crippled our ability to carry out all existing regulatory and statutory responsibilities assigned to our agency. There is NO FRACKING WAY we can presently, honestly and adequately add any new responsibility as labor-intensive as regulating, monitoring and inspection activities related to high volume hydraulic fracturing of natural gas. DEC would also be hard pressed to adequately provide emergency remedial response in cleanup assistance for a major accident of any kind. Until there are adequate staffing resources available, the moratorium should be extended."

  • 8.1.1.3 Local Government Notification - The DEC, for the first time, states that it will notify local governments when a well application is filed - not after the fact. While a step forward, this is short of the Home Rule protections in other states, where the applicant would have to get permission to drill from the local municipality or county.
  • 8.1.1.4 Road Use Agreements - The DEC should require the applicant for a drilling permit to show that they have complied with local county and town road use ordinances, if such ordinances are in place, or they should not issue the drilling permit, since the State and DEC have no authority to enter into or enforce such road use agreements, which are the purview of villages, towns, cities and counties. If the applicant is not in compliance with local road ordinances, they should not get the permit. http://my.brainshark.com/Frack-Truck-Convoys-By-Chip-Northrup-142091865

See 7.11.1.2 Municipal Control over Local Road System

  • 8.1.1.5 Local Planning Documents - The DEC acknowledges local land use ordinances - zoning - in granting drilling permits - but has no protections for those land uses:

". . . in order to consider potential significant adverse impacts on land use and zoning as required by SEQRA, the EAF Addendum would require the applicant to identify whether the proposed location of the well pad, or any other activity under the jurisdiction of the Department, conflicts with local land use laws or regulations, plans or policies. The applicant would also be required to identify whether the well pad is located in an area where the affected community has adopted a comprehensive plan or other local land use plan and whether the proposed action is inconsistent with such plan(s)."

Meaning a town or city is better off with a land use plan that addresses shale gas industrialization - than if it has no such comprehensive plan and is at the mercy of the DEC whose proposed regulations have no new setbacks for surface use, a token setback of 150 feeet from a church, hospital, and only 100 feet from housing - essentially no consideration for land use around the well pad at all. http://www.scribd.com/doc/63141534/NY-Gas-Well-Zoning

* The DEC's token setbacks of shale gas wells from surface structures are the worst in the nation. http://www.scribd.com/doc/72545747/Worst-Fracking-Regs

  • The draft 2011 SGEIS requires drillers to self-certify whether a permit application is in conflict with local comprehensive plans or land use laws. This leaves the local government in the difficult—if not impossible— position of having to check all applications to see what the driller has certified. The process should be reversed. The applicant should be required to produce certification from local government stating that the permit application is consistent with local comprehensive plans or land use laws or that no such local plans or laws exist. Permit applications should be considered incomplete without certification of compliance from the appropriate local government.
  • The DEC would require this certification of compliance with local comprehensive plans or land use laws only for wells with greater than 300,000 gallons of fracking. The requirement to certify compliance with land use laws should apply to all drilling, regardless of the size of the well, well pad or fracking volume. The current regulation leaves a loophole allowing the driller and the DEC to ignore local regulations if a well is small enough. A small well can be just as inconsistent with local comprehensive plans or land use laws as a large well. There is no reason to treat wells differently depending on their size. The DEC should remove all references to any minimum amount of fracking that would not require certification of compliance with local comprehensive plans or land use laws.
  • The economic impacts of shale gas industrialization happen town by town, municipality by municipality, not simply by "representative regions", as inferred by the DEC, no "one size fits all" land use plan. This argues for local control over well locations, local control over set-backs, and local control for noise, road use, steep slope development, and tree ordinances. This is how drilling is addressed in other states, both at the municipal level and county level. Many towns have land use plans that prohibit such industrialization, in accordance with good planning practices. http://www.dos.state.ny.us/lg/publications/Rural_Resource_Survey.pdf
  • 8.2.1.2 Required Hydraulic Fracturing Additive Information The DEC does not require disclosure of materials listed as "trade secrets" - which could include carcinogens and toxins. Such chemicals should be disclosed and banned from use in New York.

Chapter 9 - Alternative Actions

The DEC has merely listed a few alternative actions - including some obvious ones like delaying the permitting of shale gas wells until the completion of the EPA study on shale gas.

  • Or phase-in well permitting before a funding source is identified to fund the DEC or to pay for damage to state roads
  • Or formulating the SGEIS into coherent regulations before issuing permits.
  • Or determining how frack waste flowback is going to be disposed of.
  • None of these more rational approaches are being taken.

Chapter 10 - Review of Selected Non-Routine Incidents in Pennsylvania

Lessons NOT learned from PA

The DEC made much of its day-trip to Pennsylvania, but evidently learned little, even though problems with Pennsylvania shale gas wells have been studied in some detail. http://www.maryellenscottcmt.com/marcprotest/Risk_Assessment.pdf

Chapter 11 - Summary of Potential Impacts and Mitigation Measures

This "chapter" is simply an index of previous information. Unfortunately, like the sections it catalogues, it ignores or glosses over the fundamental impacts, of which no mitigation measures are mentioned. To wit:

1. The SGEIS is nothing more than a way to rubber-stamp environmental reviews. To comment on the proposed regulations, see this site : http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Fracking_Regulations

2. There will be no enforcement of the guidelines, since the DEC does not have the staff or resources to deal with the activity, nor does the state have any direct revenue from gas production.

3. There are no facilities to permanently dispose of the fracking flowback and produced water in the State of New York. None are available, none are planned.

4. The proposed set-backs from water features are not even based on empirical data, much less "science."

5. The proposed shale gas well setback from a house, 500 feet, would be illegal in any zoning ordinance in any state.

6. The SGEIS guidelines are a de facto industrial land use plan - "one size fits none" - for most of the state west of the Hudson and south of the Mohawk.

7. The number of well casings could be increased to 7 and gas wells can still leak on the outside of the casing, gassing rural water wells.

etc.