NY DEC Issues Final Draft Drilling Regs – What Happens Now?

What Happens Now?The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) issued a “final” draft version of proposed new drilling regulations yesterday (see link to full copy below) after incorporating new information it received from a private study about the industrialization affects of drilling on local communities. The new draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) weighs in at 1,537 pages—a behemoth. DEC Commissioner Joe Martens set up a 90-day public comment period to end December 12th, instead of the previously promised 60-day period.

According to the DEC press release if you start counting from July 1 when the DEC issued the original revised draft Executive Summary and table of contents, and then the rest of the revised draft (minus the industrialization section) on July 8, that’s about 150 days in total for people to review the document. And now that the final piece about industrialization effects is included, people will have 90+ days to review it. No doubt the 150-day number is mentioned by the DEC to appease those who oppose drilling and have been calling for a 180-day public comment period. Martens is saying to them: You’ve got five months, now get off my back.

In addition to receiving public comments by web and by mail, the DEC will host four public hearings in November—three of them in counties where drilling will happen, one in New York City. Those in favor of drilling have argued no further public hearings are necessary as it becomes a circus-like spectacle for those opposed to drilling to perform for evening news cameras rather than a serious forum for feedback. Apparently that argument did not hold sway with Mr. Martens and so we will be treated to four freak shows this fall.

Although the final draft SGEIS is full of background information, history, and yes, details for just how shale gas drilling will be done in New York State, what it does not contain is the actual language of new DEC regulations that will govern high-volume hydraulic fracturing (fracking). The proposed new fracking regulations, which carry the force of law, will be published in “early October” says Martens, and the public comment period for the new fracking regulations will run concurrently with the balance of the public comment period on the SGEIS itself. That is, the proposed fracking regulations will receive a 60-day public comment period—from early October to early December.

Following the public comment period, which will close on December 11, the DEC will review the comments received and issue a final final final version of the SGEIS and then, presumably, start issuing permits to drill. As MDN has previously stated, we believe drilling will begin sometime in the first quarter of 2012, provided there are no more delays by Mr. Martens.

2011 Revised Draft SGEIS – Full Document

The individual chapters of the Revised Draft SGEIS (September 2011) can be viewed as PDFs (see below). The full 2011 Revised Draft SGEIS document (PDF) (46 Mb) is available as a single PDF file. Although it is a very large file, it is downloadable and searchable.

2011 Revised Draft SGEIS – Chapters

Table of contents (PDF) (2.7 Mb)

Executive Summary (PDF) (805 kb)

  1. Introduction (PDF) (575 kb)
  2. Description of Proposed Action
  3. Proposed SEQRA Review Process (PDF) (996 kb)
  4. Geology (PDF) (4.2 Mb)
  5. Natural Gas Development Activities and High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing (PDF) (5.2 Mb)
  6. Potential Environmental Impacts
  7. Mitigation Measures (PDF) (2.8 Mb)
  8. Permit Process and Regulatory Coordination (PDF) (1.4 Mb)
  9. Alternative Actions (PDF) (990 kb)
  10. Review of Selected Non-Routine Incidents in Pennsylvania (PDF) (498 kb)
  11. Summary of Potential Impacts and Mitigation Measures (PDF) (711 kb)

Glossary and Bibliographies (PDF) (1.7 Mb)

Appendices 1 through 14 (PDF) (3.0 Mb)

Appendix 15 (PDF) (6.8 Mb)

Appendices 16 though 27 (PDF) (4.5 Mb)

Socio-economic Impact Analysis Report, Ecology and Environment, P.C. (E & E)

Ecology and Environment Engineering, P.C. prepared the Socio-economic Impact Analysis as a technical consulting report in support of the revised draft SGEIS. The Socio-economic Impact Analysis (PDF) (4.0 Mb) is available for download as a single PDF file.

Comments on the SGEIS can be submitted to DEC’s website or by mail to:

Attn: dSGEIS Comments
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233