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Anti-Frackers, Start Your Engines: New Public Comment Period Underway

A new, abbreviated public comment period on the draft regulations for high-volume horizontal fracturing (HVHF) in New York State began on Wednesday, December 12. The current rules in the draft from the Department of Environmental Conservation are so lacking in environmental safeguards that it’s difficult to know where to begin criticizing them, but here are a few key points…

• For starters, the regulations were recommended to the DEC by the gas industry—specifically, representatives of Chesapeake Energy. Thanks to this industry input, the DEC reduced the setback of gas wells from 1,500 feet to 330 feet from property lines, for example. They are the very weakest regulations in the entire country, and will enable drillers to frack up to two square miles from a common well pad. Rural residents who rely on water wells will see gas rigs pop up as close as 500 feet from their drinking source, while the spidery horizontal portions underground will be allowed to run directly beneath their property. Drilling will freely proceed underneath lakes, ponds, and streams if the new regulations are adopted. The list of concerns goes on and on.

• Historically, gas well regulation has been lax in New York due to an underfunded and understaffed DEC. In states where HVHF is currently taking place, gas production is taxed, and money put back into monitoring the industry. Not so in New York, where there is no autonomous agency tasked with keeping an eye on drillers. Even Pennsylvania has that.

• Moreover, the DEC regulations are being trotted out for public comment now—before the completion of the draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (dSGEIS) and the health impact review ordered just a few months ago. These studies should be completed and published before any new regulations are approved, but here we are, with the cart before the horse.

To learn about more about this environmental issue that will affect New Yorkers for generations to come—long after any short-term jobs have come and gone—visit and

Comments to the DEC can be made online at or via snail mail to:

HVHF Revised Rulemaking Comments


625 Broadway

Albany, NY 12233-6510

The public comment period expires at 5pm, January 11, 2013.

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