Fracking Moratorium Should Continue until Six SGEIS Deficiencies are Resolved

Englebright Signs on to letter to Cuomo with 75 other legislators
June 14, 2012

Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) has signed on to a letter calling on Governor Cuomo to resolve six critical issues before permitting Marcellus Shale horizontal hydraulic fracturing to begin in New York State. The letter was signed by 75 other state legislators from both houses and both parties. These issues are not adequately addressed by the Revised Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) that the New York Department of Environmental Conservation is currently reviewing pursuant to Executive Order No. 41.

“Before we make any decisions on allowing this heavy industry into our State, we need to make sure that the right steps are being taken to assess its safety,” said Assemblyman Steve Englebright. “It is clear that the SGEIS, as we have seen it, does not take the proper measures to ensure the continued safety of New Yorkers and their families. Until we know the full effects that this activity has on New Yorkers’ health, water, and property values, it is imperative that Governor Cuomo continue the moratorium on hydraulic fracturing.”

The six issues the letter highlights are as follows:

  1. Requiring Environmental Quality Review regarding Hydraulic Fracturing utilizing Liquid Propane Gas, which may soon be used in Tioga County without having been addressed in any SEQR Environmental Impact Statement.
  2. Requiring an environmental quality report for all New York State mortgage lending programs. Lenders and local governments around the State have voiced concerns about the impact of fracking on property values and tax revenue generation.
  3. Rescinding New York’s Natural Gas Hazardous Waste Regulatory Exemption, which, despite the highly-toxic waste that hydrofracking produces, allows drilling fluids to be exempt from waste regulations.
  4. Banning "recycling" of natural gas drilling wastewater that exceeds GA Effluent Limitations. Under current law, gas drilling wastewater is allowed to be injected into wells to “facilitate oil, gas, salt, or geothermal resources.” This water can contaminate public drinking supplies and has recently been associated with causing earthquakes in Ohio
  5. Banning natural gas drilling wastewater landspreading and dumping in municipal wastewater treatment plants. Currently, contaminated wastewater is used to de-ice and stabilize roads and roadbeds. In addition, it is often dumped in municipal wastewater plants that were not constructed to remove the toxic metals, petroleum constituents or radionuclide contained in wastewater.
  6. Requiring an independent health study of the effects of HVHF, which the current SGEIS lacks. This has been called for by numerous physicians and the US Environmental Protection Agency.

The letter concludes that the SGEIS does not fulfill the legal requirements set forth by the Environmental Quality Review Act and calls for a continued moratorium until these concerns have been addressed. The letter, sent to the Governor on June 13, 2012, is attached.