NY Landowners Face New Threat: Floodplain Boundaries

floodplain boundariesAs many of you have heard via the national media, the Binghamton, NY (Broome County) area—where much of the drilling in New York State is likely to occur once drilling begins—was just hit with the worst flooding in its history, after the previous “worst ever” flooding occurred only five years ago, in 2006. This type of flooding is referred to as a “100-year flood” and it causes the government to re-draw floodplain maps to indicate where such areas are capable of extreme flooding.

Landowners who live in the Greater Binghamton area and who want to lease their land for shale gas drilling will want to closely watch where the boundaries are drawn because the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), which regulates shale drilling, is looking to put land inside those floodplains off limits to drilling.

The double-punch of Irene and Hurricane Lee may cause the state to rethink where it allows fracking.

Much of the hurricane-related flooding occurred in the heart of the state’s share of the Marcellus Shale, around the Binghamton area.

Kevin Cahill, chair of the State Assembly’s Energy Committee, says the state should update maps to show which Shale areas are susceptible to extreme flooding. The state wants to prohibit fracking in those areas, known as 100-year floodplains, because of the potential to spread pollution and cause other damage.

A spokesperson for the State Department of Environmental Conservation told North Country Public Radio that a taskforce will examine the floodplains issue. She also said that the DEC wouldn’t delay its review of the environmental statement released last week.*

The 90-day public comment period for New York’s new drilling guidelines just began and runs through December 12. Shale gas drilling in New York is expected to begin in 2012.

*Rochester City Newspaper (Sep 13, 2011) – ENVIRONMENT: Mother Nature vs. fracking