This widely anticipated report is the revised draft of New York State’s environmental statement on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, also known as “fracking.” The results of the report will have practical implications for developers of the Marcellus and Utica shales, both of which have segments in New York.
Prepared and edited by a wide range of state agencies, from environmental to health and materials management departments and released by the Department of Environmental Conservation, this Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) is revised from its original 2009 version and notes that it will seek even more community input than last time.
It notes that while fracking poses unique environmental problems that are not necessarily covered by the state’s 1992 Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) the industry can also be extremely beneficial to the state, including job creation and boosted local economies.
Aside from potential harm to certain endangered species and wildlife, the report notes repeatedly that “no significant adverse impacts” are necessary if proper procedures and safety measures are followed.
“All phases of natural gas well development, from initial land clearing for access roads,
equipment staging areas and well pads, to drilling and fracturing operations, production and final reclamation, have the potential to cause water resource impacts during rain and snow melt events if stormwater is not properly managed,” the report says. It outlines special procedures for storms, exact procedures for management of ‘flowback’ water’ and details how to prevent groundwater contamination and how to manage potential spills and leaks.
The safety of the contents of fracking water has been the subject of much debate, with environmentalists claiming that fracking chemicals can contaminate underground drinking water and industry insiders calling the concern overblown. Read more: What’s In This Fracking Water?
According to this revised draft, made public on Wednesday, certain types of fracking wells will requite site-specific regulations. Those include:
1) Any proposed high-volume hydraulic fracturing where the top of the target fracture
zone is shallower than 2,000 feet along a part of the proposed length of the wellbore;
2) Any proposed high-volume hydraulic fracturing where the top of the target fracture
zone at any point along the entire proposed length of the wellbore is less than 1,000
feet below the base of a known fresh water supply;
3) Any proposed well pad within the boundaries of a principal aquifer, or outside but
within 500 feet of the boundaries of a principal aquifer;
4) Any proposed well pad within 150 feet of a perennial or intermittent stream, storm
drain, lake or pond;
5) A proposed surface water withdrawal that is found not to be consistent with the
Department’s preferred passby flow methodology
6) Any proposed well location determined by the New York City Department of
Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) to be within 1,000 feet of its subsurface water
According to CEO of Texas-based Breitling Oil & Gas company Chris Faulkner, the fracking industry needs to build community trust and failed by not focusing on that years ago. Read the full story: ‘We’re Our Own Nemesis’.
The full SGEIS report can be found here. The 34-page executive summary can be downloaded from this post.