Assembly Energy Committee Chair Comments on the Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement for Marcellus Shale

The Department of Environmental Conservation recently made the draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) for Marcellus Shale available to the public on their website. This document examines many of the issues concerning natural gas drilling in New York State.

In order to achieve energy independence, we need to develop new sources of energy here in New York State. Energy efficiency and conservation coupled with the advancement of clean, renewable power generation will play an essential role in this effort, but in the short term, we are currently supplying only five percent of the natural gas we use in New York. The other 95% is coming from places with far less stringent environmental rules than we have. For the short run, we will not eliminate the need for conventional resources like natural gas. The Marcellus Shale formation gives us the opportunity to develop a reliable indigenous fuel supply, which in turn can promote economic development and protect consumers from the market volatility that fed some of the dramatic cost spikes of 2008.

This concept is controversial and the environmental concerns associated with extracting this resource must be thoroughly and publicly vetted prior to broad consideration as a source of natural gas in the State's long-term energy plans. That said, the extraction of natural gas we import from other states is not environmentally benign. New Yorkers simply can not leave their environmental concerns at the state line. The more fuel we can develop under the guidance of the high standards that have long positioned New York as a leader in environmental protectionism, the less we will have to import from regions that do not share our sensibilities. Extraction of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale formation within our borders is something that warrants full exploration.

In order to move forward, we must ensure that the landowners, water supplies and natural resources can be protected. Many organizations and individuals have raised significant concerns over the amount of water this type of drilling necessitates, the potential ground water contamination by the fluid used in the process, the treatment of waste water, air quality issues, segmentation of sensitive land and increased industrial traffic. I brought these matters to the attention of Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner, Pete Grannis, last year and more recently in testimony before the State Energy Planning Board. In the draft Environmental Impact Statement, it is clear that the DEC has taken these concerns seriously and made efforts to address the issues I have outlined.

I look forward to thoroughly reviewing and commenting on the draft regulations. I would encourage all who are interested to do the same. The SGEIS is available on the DEC website: The public comment period on the draft will be open until November 30. The DEC will be accepting comments in writing, either via e-mail, regular mail, direct online submissions or delivered at public-information sessions.

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