NYSDEC Recommends Lifting Fracking Ban, Subject to Limitations
As we mentioned earlier, Governor Cuomo requested that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's ("NYSDEC") Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement ("SGEIS") on horizontal drilling be completed for issuance by July 1, 2011. On June 30, NYSDEC announced its recommendations from its report, set to be released today. NYSDEC recommends that the moratorium on fracking be lifted, but that fracking be prohibited in the New York City and Syracuse watersheds, within 500 feet of primary aquifers, and on state-owned land. Fracking would be allowed on privately held land, subject to "rigorous and effective controls."
These controls would (1) prohibit permits from being issued within 500 feet of a private water well or within 2,000 feet of a public drinking water supply well or reservoir, (2) require a third well casing around each well, (3) require additional spill control for flowback water and a DEC-approved plan for disposing of flowback water and production brine, and (4) require well applicants to disclose all fracking chemicals and consider chemicals that potentially pose less risk.
Pursuant to the recently passed Water Withdrawal Reporting law, drillers also must obtain a special permit to withdraw large volumes of water. This permit will impose conditions on water quantity, and require annual reporting on the amount of water being withdrawn or purchased.
UPDATE: Although the full SGEIS will not be made available until July 8, NYSDEC has released the Executive Summary, a SGEIS timeline, a document explaining what it learned from Pennsylvania, and a press release detailing who NYSDEC was appointing to its Hydraulic Fracturing Advisory Panel.