A trade group for the natural-gas industry is pushing back against the state’s proposed rules for large-scale hydrofracking, saying they would make it “extremely difficult, if not impossible, to site a well pad in New York State.”
In a cover letter for formal comments submitted to the state Department of Environmental Conservation earlier this month, the Independent Oil & Gas Association of New York said it was taking a more “adversarial” position against the agency’s proposals because the group’s previous suggestions weren’t given enough consideration.
“These regulations are replete with requirements that have no foundation in science or in the long history of modern drilling in New York State without adverse environmental consequences,” wrote Brad Gill, IOGA’s executive director. “In addition, in a number of instances, the Department has exceeded its regulatory authority, again with no scientific or historical basis for the offensive proposals.”
In his letter, Gill goes as far to suggest the DEC is breaking state law. The State Administrative Procedures Act, which governs how agencies adopt new regulations, requires the agency to take steps to reduce adverse impacts on small businesses; IOGA contends the proposed fracking rules cater to large natural-gas companies rather and that DEC isn’t giving consideration to small, independent operators.
One of the “most glaring issues,” Gill wrote, is a proposal to ban gas wells from being drilled within 300 feet of federally regulated wetlands. He contends the DEC doesn’t have the authority to propose a ban relative to federal wetlands.
Packaged with a number of other setbacks — DEC has proposed restricting where gas wells are drilled in relation to homes, aquifers and other water sources — Gill says it would make it difficult to drill in New York at all.
Gill’s letter and IOGA’s formal comments — which total dozens of pages and includes comments from 2011, as well as a handful of letters from smaller, independent gas companies — can be read below. They were submitted to the DEC on Jan. 11, when the latest comment period closed.
The DEC faces a Feb. 27 deadline to finalize the proposed fracking rules or allow them to expire. If they want to meet that deadline, the agency has to release an extensive, formal environmental review of shale-gas drilling at least 10 days beforehand.