new york's top 10 fracking flaws and what the dec must fix
New York State must analyze fracking's true costs. Governor Cuomo and the DEC have failed to provide an analysis of the true costs of fracking for communities or the state. The DEC’s socioeconomic impact analysis omits critical information about fracking's fiscal impact on communities in terms of infrastructure, schools, and other costs.
New York State must analyze health impacts. Despite direction from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, calls from doctors and health professionals, and the insistence of New Yorkers, New York has failed to include an analysis of public health impacts or to meaningfully incorporate the state’s Department of Health into the fracking review. This is despite the fact that fracking-related air pollution and potential water contamination have serious effects on people—especially the elderly and children, and communities downwind and downstream of drilling operations.
New York State must ban toxic fracking chemicals. State leaders do not propose to ban any of the toxic chemicals used in fracking fluid, even those known to be serious human and animal carcinogens. Nor has there been any study of the cumulative effect of exposure to the hundreds of dangerous chemicals used in the fracking process that could be discharged as solid waste and wastewater, if fracking is permitted. While the proposed public disclosure component has been strengthened, telling New Yorkers what toxic chemicals will be used is not the same as protecting them from negative health impacts.
New York State must look at fracking comprehensively. The gas industry would be overseen by several state agencies, including the Public Service Commission, Department of Agriculture and Markets, Department of Health, and others, yet there is no single agency with a clear mandate to protect the public. This means Governor Cuomo is the only person who has the power to coordinate multiple agencies' efforts and protect New Yorkers.
New York State must undertake a cumulative impact analysis. The state has spent enormous resources to develop the economy of Upstate New York by attracting new high tech industries, developing tourism, protecting agricultural lands, endangered species, and historic sites, and encouraging land use compatible with these goals. The impact of gas drilling on these investments must be analyzed.
New York State must provide long-term protections for drinking water sources. The state proposes to put some areas off limits to drilling, but upon closer examination, many of the restrictions have sunset dates and some protective buffers only call for site-specific individual environmental review, rather than clear restrictions.
New York State must plan for disposal of hazardous fracking wastes. There are no wastewater treatment plants in New York State designed to treat wastewaters from high-volume fracking operations. The draft review and proposed regulations are unacceptably vague with regard to what will become of the billions of gallons of toxic waste that will be produced in New York State once these operations commence.
New York State must protect critical drinking water infrastructure. The state proposes a buffer around New York City drinking water infrastructure in which only an additional review would be required and upon which projects could be permitted-not a formal ban. The proposed buffer is only one-quarter as long as a typical horizontal well bore, too close to the sensitive, aging infrastructure that provides the city with drinking water. There are no proposed buffer requirements for Syracuse.
New York State must respect communities' local land use and zoning laws. Home rule powers to control land use and industrial development through zoning and police powers have long been established in New York State. Governor Cuomo and the DEC must respect local laws and ordinances.
New York State must listen to New Yorkers' concerns and stop fast-tracking regulations. Despite repeated requests from residents, environmental and citizens groups, and local officials to slow down the state's environmental review and rule-making related to fracking, Governor Cuomo and the DEC last week issued proposed rules for regulating industrial gas drilling even before completing the legally required environmental review process. Insufficient time has been allowed for comments and insufficient hearings have been set. If regulations are issued before the review of environmental impacts is complete, such regulations are more likely to be insufficient to protect people and the environment.