Comment on the NY Fracking Regs NOW!

No Frack cartoon protestWe need everyone to get going on comments on the New York State proposed regulations on gas drilling.

The DEC admits that the denial of permits for HVHF in New York State would fully protect the environment from any environmental impacts associated with fracking. BUT it would also eliminate all of the economic benefits that could be generated by the activity. This would contravene New York State’s declaration of policy in Article 23 of the ECL to develop oil and gas resources that will maximize the ultimate recovery of those resources.

So they have chosen to pollute us – Therefore, if you care about your health and your children’s health and the health of future generations start commenting, keep commenting, and don’t stop until the time is up. Go to Here are some sample comments of mine to get you thinking:

Section 560.7 deals with the disposal of waste from gas drilling operations and specifies when and how the waste should be removed. However, it does not say how the waste will be disposed. This waste is full of toxins and radioactivity. It cannot safely be dumped in water sources, sewage treatment plants or spread on roads. There is always the danger of spills. There is no safe level of radiation exposure. 59 scientists say we do not have the ability to deal with the waste in NY Burying it in the ground causes earthquakes.  The waste will be with us forever damaging future generation. This regulation doesn’t protect NY citizens from this dangerous waste.

Section 560.6 (c)(28) This section specifies the height of the flare stack to be 30 feet. My two story house with 12 foot ceilings and an attic is just under 30 feet high. That means that the noxious and poisonous gases coming out of the vent which may be flaming, but may not, as the regulation say “whenever possible” will be blowing in my windows that are 500 feet from the gas pad sure to be built on my neighbor’s leased land. This method of eliminating excess gas is not only wasteful of methane, a cause of global warming, but also will cause respiratory illness in my family. I do not consider this regulation sufficient protection of my family’s health.

Spread of pollution from stack

Section 190.8(ag) State lands belong to all citizens. I am glad fracking will be banned from them. However, allowing fracking to go under state lands will cause just as much damage to the ecosystem. Research by the National Conservancy found that drill pads and associated roads disturb the ecology of 30 acres of forest  The biggest effect is that habitats are compressed and divided. This will particularly affect deer populations and other migratory animals, but also small animals that require quiet and seclusion to survive. Placing an industrial process plant (for that is what a well pad is) next to nature preserves makes no sense. There should be no drilling allowed under state land so that operators do not drill on the boundaries and ruin the ecology.

Section 560.3(d)(2) Hydraulic Fracturing Fluid Disclosure This regulation purports to regulate fracking fluid. However, it allows companies to keep the ingredients secret. Other states are struggling to make similar regulations work. But it is not working for the people. Doctors don’t know how to treat workers contaminated by the fluid. Home owners don’t know what chemicals to test for in their water. The public deserves to know the poisons they are dealing with in light of the serious health issue they cause. Full-disclosure to the public is the only regulation acceptable for New York that prides itself on tough regulation.

Section 555.5(a)(1-4) Plugging and Abandonment This regulation addresses what happens when drilling ends. However, the regulation is very inadequate. There are thousands of old gas wells that have not been adequately monitored or plugged in NY alone.

The new regulation relies on the same old stuff – cement. Cement does not last forever especially in a zone with acid rain like we have here. Eventually it degrades and then the toxic fluids in the well shaft will leak into fractures and seep into the aquifer which by then will be very precious. In fact there is no way to adequately seal up these wells. Until there is, no adequate regulation can be designed. So get working on the science here. What lasts forever that can be poured down into the earth to seal up these old wells? Not what you have outlined.  The industry itself says casings will fail but since they will be all right for the near future – don’t worry about it. But they are more focused on their money now not future generations’ lives. It is the DEC’s job to protect us, the citizens of NY, not just now but for my grandchildren and great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren.

Section 560.4 Setbacks (a) No well pad or portion of a well pad may be located within 500 feet from a residential water well, domestic supply spring or water well or spring used as a water supply for livestock or crops. 500 feet is not very far. It is the distance across the field from my house to my neighbor’s border – the one with the gas lease. Scientific research shows that toxic pollutants can migrate that far, spills can spread that far, and the air pollution goes even farther.   500 feet will not keep my organic produce organic. It will not be healthy for the livestock on my farm.  This is a horribly inadequate regulation. It needs to be rewritten to take into account migration, spillage, and air pollution with consideration of topography – is the gas well uphill of the creek the animals drink out of for instance? Or the agriculture industry which produces 5 billion dollars a year in NY will be destroyed.

Section 556.2(b) This regulates the release of gases into the air. Calculated it works out allowing one well to release 7 days and 7 nights worth of toxic and global warming gases – plus the operator can release more “to meet operational requirements.” This means that any amount can be released and there is no required monitoring of the gases being released. With the proposed 500 foot setback these emission will waft right through my windows of my house. I am not protected by these regulations, neither is my family nor my neighbors nor anyone living downwind of the emission tower. This is not a regulation at all. It controls nothing. It needs to be rewritten so that there is a maximum amount tolerated and all releases are timed and controlled. The public should be notified and removed for the area at public expense, if necessary, for their safety especially if they have respiratory or heart issues – both made worse by the hydrocarbons and benzene in the emissions.

Section 560.4(a)(1) Setbacks  This regulation says that the well pad must be 500 feet from my house, or my children’s school, or my neighbors’ homes. However, by specifying pad, the regulations do not cover the well site which can be much larger than the pad. On that site will be not only the wells (up to 16+) with their flaring and thumping, but also numerous generators and trucks running day and night. Altogether this will create noise pollution that may well be above the 40 decibel level for homes and 35 decibel level for schools. Excessive continuous noise exposure can cause hearing loss, attention difficulties in children, and even heart disease from broken sleep patterns.

Therefore this setback is not sufficient to insure our health. Other states have noise level standards. Will New York’s regulation be less stringent than say Colorado’s? Specific noise regulation levels and control need to be in these regulations.

Hope that gets you started. Happy Commenting!


About joan koster

Joan Koster writes historical fiction about forgotten women. She is currently working on a novel about abolition and woman's rights during the Civil War.
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