Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Legislators call for extended public hearing on hyrdofracking

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Five Bronx legislators have joined 23 others from around the state in sending a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo calling for an extension of the comment period and expansion of the public hearing process for the revised Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement on the Oil Gas and Solution Mining Regulatory Program (dSGEIS), which concerns hydraulic fracturing in New York.

According to The Journal News, Department of Environmental Commissioner Joseph Martens defended the department’s decision to move forward with proposed regulations and an Environmental Impact Statement at the same time:
Martens said there’s no reason the comment periods can’t be held at the same time and represents a more effective use of the department’s resources. A set of four public hearings will be held in November, with testimony being heard for both documents at each hearing.

The letter is below the jump.

September 12, 2011


Hon. Andrew M. Cuomo
Executive Chamber
State Capitol
Albany, NY 12224

Dear Governor Cuomo:

The undersigned legislators appreciate Commissioner Martens’ recent response to our request for an extension of the public comment period and an expansion of the public hearing process for the revised Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement on the Oil Gas and Solution Mining Regulatory Program (“dSGEIS”), however his response remains unacceptable.

Given the complexity of the dSGEIS and the just announced concurrent comment period for DEC’s proposed regulations for Hydraulic Fracturing it is imperative that the public comment period be extended to 180 days to March 5, 2012. As previously stated, the public must be given ample and sufficient time to review the dSGEIS and draft detailed comments given the significant impacts this plan will have on local economies, infrastructure, property values, public health, the environment and quality of life issues throughout the State. In the current dSGEIS, DEC has failed to significantly address cumulative impacts of this industry as required by SEQRA and has completely failed to address the potential for public health impacts. Fortunately, there are many non-governmental organizations willing to take on the responsibility of addressing both cumulative and health impacts of this industry. These studies will take time, however, so it is necessary to extend the comment period so that a fully informed decision can be made on the appropriateness of allowing Hydralic Fracturing in New York State.

As it did in 2009, DEC has proposed only 4 public hearings throughout the State with 3 in the Marcellus Shale region and 1 in New York City. This too is wholly unacceptable given the tremendous impact this industry may have not only in the Marcellus Shale region and New York City, but also in the Utica Shale region and other areas throughout the State. This is an issue that demands full public review and participation in the debate across the State. We remain adamant in our call for an expanded public review process to include public hearings in each of the 10 Economic Development Regions of New York State representing the Western New York, Southern Tier, Finger Lakes, Central New York, North Country, Mohawk Valley, Capital, Mid-Hudson, Long Island and New York City Regions.

While DEC proclaims the existence of economic benefits which have the potential of bringing in millions of dollars to the State in job earnings, there is debate as to whether these dollars would indeed go to New York State residents or in fact into the hands of out of State workers. The experience in Pennsylvania and elsewhere shows that out-of-state workers have been brought in by the drilling companies to take the local jobs they say they are creating. Furthermore, the ramifications of making the wrong decision on the use of Hydraulic Fracturing in our State is likely to have tremendous public health and financial costs that far exceed any of the potential economic benefits such an industry might generate.

Such costs could be incurred as a result of potential contamination of public water supplies from drilling outside these protected areas. Contamination of these public water supplies could result in multi-billion dollar costs to the State in order to meet anti-degradation standards imposed by the Clean Water Act or as a result of New York City’s failure to obtain an extension of the “Filtration Avoidance Determination” it was granted in 1993 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This consequence alone would require the city to build a filtration system costing in excess of $10 billion with an annual operating cost of $100 million.

Given the magnitude of this deliberation process as set forth above, DEC must extend the comment period to 180 days and expand the public hearing process as we have requested.


Senator Tony Avella
Assemblyman William Colton
Senator John L. Sampson
Senator Liz Krueger
Senator Bill Perkins
Senator Michael N. Gianaris
Senator Jose M. Serrano
Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr.
Senator Velmanette Montgomery
Senator Adriano Espaillat
Assembly Member Robert J. Castelli
Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz
Senator David Carlucci
Senator Diane J. Savino
Senator Daniel Squadron
Senator Neil D. Breslin
Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins
Senator Gustavo Rivera
Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson
Senator Kevin Parker
Assembly Member Annie Rabbitt
Assembly Member Fred Thiele, Jr.
Assembly Member Harry B. Bronson
Assembly Member Sandy Galef
Assembly Member Barbara S. Lifton
Assembly Member William Magee
Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell
Assembly Member Richard Gottfried
Assembly Member Micah Z. Kellner

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