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New York Unveils Gas Drilling Environmental Review

State proposals for this serious environmental challenge deserve thorough public review
September 30, 2009
Albany, NY — 
The state Department of Environmental Conservation released a draft environmental impact statement today proposing safety measures, protection standards, and mitigation strategies that natural gas developers would have to follow to obtain drilling permits.

The analysis focuses on a controversial process for stimulating the production of gas, known as hydraulic fracturing of horizontally drilled wells. The technique, in which drilling companies inject millions of gallons of chemically treated water into the earth, has raised concerns about impacts to drinking water and natural resources.

Just last week, Pennsylvania officials shut down Cabot Oil and Gas operations in Susquehanna County after three chemical spills at one drilling site in less than a week.

The following is a statement from Earthjustice Managing Attorney Deborah Goldberg:

"This is perhaps the most pressing environmental issue in the state right now. The gas drilling industry is at our doorstep, clamoring for access to reserves in shale deposits deep underground and demanding the right to blast millions of gallons of chemically-treated water into the earth to extract the gas. If we're not careful we could end up endangering public health and our precious natural resources. All of the residents of New York State have a stake in this issue and deserve a chance to let their voices be heard.

"The Department has produced an 800-page document evaluating a wide range of potential environmental impacts from gas drilling. With only 60 days for public comment, concerned citizens face a daunting task. We hope that there will be an ample number of public hearings throughout the state, including in New York City. DEC shouldn't cut corners when it comes to opportunities for public participation.

"We've said all along that we'd like to see New York set the standard with its drilling regulations -- not play catch-up. We've seen far too much drilling-related contamination right next door in Pennsylvania -- and elsewhere in the country -- where regulatory programs are plainly inadequate to prevent sometimes irreversible environmental and public health catastrophes. Drilling permits should not be issued in New York until we are certain that we have done all that we can to protect our communities and our natural resources."

For a copy of New York's draft environmental review, go to: http://www.dec.ny.gov/energy/47554.html


Contact:

Kathleen Sutcliffe, Earthjustice, (202) 667-4500, ext. 235