Revised ‘Fracking’ Regulations Released in New York State

by Duane Nichols on December 1, 2012

NY State Health Commissioner

Proposed Fracking Regulations in NY State

By George M. Walsh,  Associated Press, November 30, 2012

A revised set of proposed regulations for hydraulic fracturing natural gas has been released by New York environmental officials who will begin taking public comment on them soon.

The voluminous technical document was made public by the Department of Environmental Conservation on its website November 29th, a day before the deadline for adopting rules for the controversial drilling known as “fracking” or making changes and allowing more comment. It has been a year since the last public hearings on the original proposal. New York has not yet approved the technology, which drillers want to use to tap gas in the Marcellus Shale formation.

The first round of hearings on regulations proposed in 2011 generated 80,000 comments, which DEC officials said slowed their review and revision of the proposal. It said the latest changes include a number responding to the original comments. The agency said Thursday the changes allow it to extend the review process and take into account a pending analysis by the state health department.

Calls by opponents for an independent study of potential health threats from the drilling were rejected by the Cuomo administration, which instead asked state Health Commissioner Nirav Shah to oversee an assessment of health issues. “DEC will not take any final action until after Dr. Shah’s health review is completed,” agency spokeswoman Emily DeSantis said. “This action merely extends the rule-making period to enable DEC to take into account Dr. Shah’s review.”

The DEC said it will take written comments on the latest revisions from December 12th until January 11th.

Hydraulic fracturing injects millions of gallons of water mixed with sand and chemicals into wells to crack the shale and free the gas. It has divided environmental and business interests at odds over potential harm to water and other resources and the potential for tapping an abundant supply of gas and creating jobs.

One of the major objections raised by environmental groups was that the regulations didn’t spell out how drillers should dispose of the enormous volume of wastewater produced from fracked wells. The revised regulations leave it up to drillers to say how they’ll dispose of the wastewater while complying with various pollution rules. The regulations say the driller “must have an approvable plan identifying the ultimate disposition” of wastewater, and must also submit an acceptable contingency plan to be used if the primary plan turns out to be unworkable.

According to the DEC documents, among the other revisions are removing a $2 million cap on financial security that drillers must put up based on anticipated costs of plugging and abandonment of a well, potentially requiring them to put up more; stronger requirements for plugging and abandonment of wells; stricter disclosure requirements for fracking chemicals; a 15-day public comment period on permit applications; and provisions for collection of fees.

Regarding the industry’s costs for complying with the regulations, the documents say the Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York estimated costs would range from $400,000 to $1.7 million for the first well drilled on a well pad. The DEC said its own cost assessment found the industry estimate to be excessive.

The documents also say enforcing the regulations and overseeing shale gas development will create additional cost for the DEC and the state departments of health and transportation, but that those costs can’t be calculated accurately at this point.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Sharron Burgess December 2, 2012 at 12:01 pm

Has anyone calculated the costs for destroyed lives and the environment, since the cost factor seems to play such an important part in these decisions.  Have these costs been downgraded to worthless?

Sharron Burgess


Kristen December 5, 2012 at 1:18 pm

Okay. What will the costs be when the “old” pipes break??? What will the costs be when there are too many wells and they dont have the funding to clean up “all” the mess??? Is the company just going to throw up their hands and say “forget about it! We are losing too much money so just let someone else take care of the clean-up”????????
Abandon the old wells and abandon the communities????

Here is the thing….they have just started. In about 5 to 10 years from now we are going to be inudated with multiple well pads, compressior stations, pipelines, etc. It will be too difficult and too costly to keep these things from reeking disasterous results. Pipelines will rust or break. Compressior stations can leak or explode. Well pads can leak and will leak for years. Really!!! Are we thinking of the long term effects of this industry and not allowing some sort of control over this madness???


Clevenger Brown December 8, 2012 at 2:23 am

Wonderful work! This is the type of information that should be shared around the web. Shame on Google for not positioning this post higher in the search priority!


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