New York State Releases Draft Rules for Drilling in the Marcellus Shale

Originally run on on October 1st:

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has finally released its Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement for drilling in the Marcellus Shale. Instead of making drilling companies do an environmental impact statement for each well they drill, the DEC decided to do one “generic” environmental impact statement that will apply to all drilling sites throughout the state. You can read the document for yourself here:

I have not yet had a chance to fully digest the 500+ page document. I have reviewed some of it (a lot of it is technical). An article in the Press & Sun-Bulletin purports to cover some of the highlights. Read the P&SB article here: NY regulators propose pre-emptive checks of gas wells in Marcellus Shale. But let me warn you that Tom Wilber, the P&SB writer, shades all of his Marcellus drilling articles with anti-drilling sentiment. For example, he says:

The DEC’s regulatory overhaul began after Southern Tier residents crowded into school auditoriums and town halls to attend public information sessions hosted by the agency in the summer of 2008. Those sessions often became heated, as regulators were unable to satisfactorily answer questions about water consumption, waste disposal, chemical handling and other aspects of large scale Marcellus drilling.

Perhaps so Mr. Wilber. Maybe that’s why New York decided to do a complete review in the first place. But in the interests of being fair and balanced, why didn’t you also mention the rally held just recently (this past summer) in Afton, where thousands of landowners showed up to support drilling? There were more people in one location at one time to support drilling than there ever have been in any location who oppose it.

He also asserts in the article:

DEC officials have watched and learned from developments in Dimock Township, Pa., where Cabot Oil & Gas recently had to shut down some operations after repeated spills and environmental problems. Explosive levels of methane contaminated some drinking water supplies earlier this year. More recently, an 8,000 gallon spill of chemicals used to stimulate well production polluted a creek and wetland.

Yes, Cabot has had problems and they are being appropriately spanked for it by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA’s version of our DEC). The situation is being carefully monitored and handled. But again, the lingering sentiment from the paragraph seems to be that all drilling is unsafe and all drilling companies are out to screw the populace. What about the hundreds (thousands?) of other natural gas wells in PA that are doing just fine with their operations? No spills or contamination of anything. No mention of that.

My very preliminary take on the new DEC proposed regulations: Likely overbearing and restrictive, but at least we’re moving again. After a public comment period until Nov. 30, the DEC will hopefully sew this thing up and drilling can finally begin in New York.

Stay tuned as more will surely come out about the proposed new regulations as people have time to review them in detail.

Password Reset
Please enter your e-mail address. You will receive a new password via e-mail.