The state Department of Environmental Conservation has released its revised report offering recommendations on how, where and whether or not high-volume hydraulic fracturing — commonly called “hydrofracking” — should be allowed in New York state.
The “Revised Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement on the Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Regulatory Program,” made available to the public on Sept. 7, offered few changes from the “preliminary” draft SGEIS released July 8. The DEC maintained its previous recommendation that more than 80 percent of the Marcellus Shale region in New York should be opened to gas drilling.
The revised report did, however, include new proposals to mitigate impacts on local community character, such as through noise, visual and traffic control measures.
The Skaneateles Lake watershed area — designated in the report as the Syracuse watershed — plus a 4,000-foot “setback” perimeter around the watershed remains exempt from the DEC’s recommendation to permit hydrofracking in the state because it is an “unfiltered water suppl[y] that depend[s] on strict land use and development controls to ensure that water quality is protected.”
The town of Skaneateles currently has a hydrofracking moratorium in place, with a new law allowing the regulation and ultimate banning of the practice by the town board currently being considered.
The release of the revised DEC report now opens a 90-day public comment period on the issue, which closes on Dec. 12. Due to the high number of comments expected, only written comments will be accepted, either via land mail or using the DEC’s web-based comment form available on its website. Faxed, telephoned or emailed comments to the DEC will not be accepted for the official record.
The DEC plans to hold four public hearings during the comment period for the SGEIS and regulations in November. The meetings will be held in counties in the Marcellus Shale area, as well as New York City. Dates and locations will be announced shortly.
To read the DEC report and its accompanying documents, facts sheets and maps, and also to submit a comment via the DEC’s web-based comment form, go to dec.ny.gov/energy/75370.html.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Skaneateles Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.