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State releases preliminary drilling regulations

TRI-COUNTY AREA—For the next two months the N.Y. Department of Environmental Conservation will accept comments on the proposed regulations for drilling for Marcellus Shale.
“People have to realize the draft only applies to the drilling process,” said Lindsay Wickham, field advisor and local issues specialist for the New York Farm Bureau.
He explained the proposed regulations were released Wednesday, Sept. 30. The DEC had put off releasing the draft earlier in September until the end of the month. Public comment will be accepted until Nov. 30. For more information on submitting comments, see
“It has considerable more oversight,” said Wickham. “It should help ease some concerns.”
Despite the proposed regulations, Wickham said there is a potential problem; how it will all be enforced. He said the DEC will need to come up with funding to pay for the inspectors needed in the new oversight. Wickham said those funds could come from permit fees and taxes.
According to the DEC, before drilling the company must:
• Disclosure of Fracturing Fluids: Every applicant must include disclosure of the “frac” fluid compositions and the percentages of chemicals to be used for each well.
• Water Well Testing: Prior to drilling, private wells within 1,000 feet of the drill site will be tested to provide baseline information and allow for ongoing monitoring. If there are no wells within 1,000 feet, the survey area will extend to 2,000 feet.
• Water Consumption: Companies will have to complete a more stringent and protective stream flow analysis in regards to water withdrawal plans.
• Technical Compliance: Prior to hydraulically fracturing a well, operators must complete a new “Pre-Frac Checklist and Certification Form” to ensure technical compliance with the permit and to provide information regarding final well-bore construction and hydraulic fracturing operations.
• Mitigation planning: All operators are required to prepare plans for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, visual impacts and noise impacts prior to commencing operations. In addition, if a drilling company has not reached a road-use agreement with the local government, a trucking plan containing the estimated amount of trucking, approach for avoiding peak traffic hours, appropriate off-road parking/staging areas, and routes must be submitted.
Wickham said though that he does not know if releasing the fracking fluid information will be public knowledge. He explained the state previously required such a list to be given, but the DEC did not allow the information to be obtained, even by a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request. Wickham said whether or not this will be the same way will come out during public comment.
The proposed regulations also include changes in operation. Wickham said gas drilling companies would have to double line the on-site wastewater pits, as opposed to just one plastic liner. He added a fence will have to be put up around the pits. Wickham said these are things that are required in some other states and therefore something the companies might already be doing elsewhere.
He added many of the stipulations in the draft bill have been released in earlier versions, so are not a complete surprise.


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