Catskill Mountainkeeper BREAKING NEWS
December 11, 2010
HISTORIC VICTORY FOR THE CITIZENS OF NEW YORK STATE
In an amazing victory for the citizens of New York State, Governor David A. Paterson has issued an Executive Order directing the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to conduct further comprehensive review and analysis of high-volume hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus Shale. The Executive Order requires that, if approved, high-volume, horizontal hydraulic fracturing would not be permitted until July 1, 2011, at the earliest. New York State becomes the first state to have a formal prohibition on high volume horizontal hydrofacking because of concerns about environmental impacts. Regretablly instead of signing the "Moratorium Bill" legislation sent to him that included a prohibition on vertical hyrdofracking that was passed by on overwhelming bi partisan majority in both houses of the State government he decided instead to succumb to industry pressure and issue the Executive Order that eliminates vertical wells from the prohibition. While the Executive Order is historic and proves that our concerns over hydrofracking are legitimate it is also a disappointment because vertical wells are also dangerous.
The gas and oil industry lobby deliberately misinterpreted a section of the Moratorium Bill claiming it would bring all gas drilling in New York State to a halt. The bill only specified a moratorium on drilling for wells using hydrofracking, whether they are vertically or horizontally drilled.
A moratorium banning the fracking of vertical wells is very important for several reasons:
1. Gas companies have been clear that they plan to drill vertical wells in the Utica and Marcellus shale with the intention of converting them to horizontal wells.
2. While the State Senate was considering a two-year moratorium on horizontal wells the gas industry threatened to drill and frack 16 vertical wells every square mile in retribution if a moratorium on fracked horizontal wells was passed.
3. Some of the worst water contamination problems, such as in Dimock, PA came from vertical wells drilled and fractured in the Marcellus Shale.
We now look to Governor Elect Andrew Cuomo to protect the Citizens of New York from the dangers of hydro fracking by any method including vertical drilling and horizontal drilling and including all shale formations.
BELOW IS THE GOVERNORS PRESS RELEASE
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Governor Paterson Issues Executive Order on Hydraulic Fracturing
by New York State Office of the Governor
ALBANY, NY (12/11/2010)(readMedia)-- Governor David A. Paterson has issued an Executive Order directing the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to conduct further comprehensive review and analysis of high-volume hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus Shale. The Executive Order requires that, if approved, high-volume, horizontal hydraulic fracturing would not be permitted until July 1, 2011, at the earliest. This should allay any fears that high-volume hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling under study by DEC will commence without assurances of safety.
"We in government must always focus on protecting the well-being of those whom we represent and serve, but we also have an obligation to look to the future and protect the long-term interests for our State and its residents," Governor Paterson said. "Therefore, I am proud to issue this Executive Order, which will guarantee that before any high-volume, horizontal hydraulic fracturing is permitted, the Department of Environmental Conversation will complete its studies and certify that such operations are safe."
Permits for high-volume, horizontal hydraulic fracturing can not be issued until the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) completes a Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS), which is currently being developed. As a result, there is already in place a de-facto moratorium on such permits.
The Governor issued the Executive Order contemporaneously with his veto of S.8129-B/A.11443-B, which would have suspended the issuance of new oil and gas drilling permits through May 15, 2011, including all conventional, low-volume, vertical oil and gas wells.
"This legislation, which was well intentioned, would have a serious impact on our State if signed into law. Enacting this legislation would put people out of work - work that is permitted by the Department of Environmental Conservation and causes no demonstrated environmental harm, in order to effectuate a moratorium that is principally symbolic," Governor Paterson said. "Symbols can have great importance, but particularly in our current terrible economic straits, I cannot agree to put individuals out of work for a symbolic act."
"I am sympathetic to the sponsors' desire to protect the environment and public health, and I respect the concerns that produced this legislation," the Governor continued. "But this legislation does not accomplish this purpose, since the activities at the heart of the moratorium are not currently taking place, and would not take place until well after the legislation's proposed moratorium."
The bill goes well beyond high-volume, horizontal hydraulic fracturing and effectively would result in a moratorium on all new oil and gas well drilling in this State. The cessation of such new activity, even for a limited period, would have substantial negative financial consequences for the State, local governments, landowners and small businesses involved in conventional oil and gas production.
The Division of the Budget estimates that the bill would cause a substantial reduction in State revenues from the loss of permit fees and tax revenue. With a $315 million budget gap in the current fiscal year, and a projected gap of over $9 billion in the 2011-12 State fiscal year, New York simply cannot afford to send hundreds and perhaps thousands of jobs, and millions of dollars in capital investment to Pennsylvania and other states to our south.
Additional news available at www.ny.gov/governor
High resolution images available at www.ny.gov/governor/mediaimages
New York State
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About Catskill Mountainkeeper
Catskill Mountainkeeper is an independent, not for profit, 501c3 community based environmental advocacy organization, dedicated to creating a flourishing sustainable economy in the Catskills and preserving and protecting the area's long term health. We address issues of water integrity for the Delaware and Susquehanna River Systems, the defense of the vast woodlands that encompass the Catskill Forest Preserve and the New York City Watershed as well as farmland protection. We promote "smart" development that balances the economic needs and concerns of the Catskill regions' citizens and the protection of our abundant but exceedingly vulnerable natural resources.
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