EARTHWORKS

New York Oil & Gas Enforcement

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These New York enforcement web pages were written as part of the research that went into Earthworks' DEC: Enforcement Report

News

On July 17, 2012 the Times Union quoted a DEC spokesperson as saying "the state's draft plan would require at least 13 inspections during each well drilling and completion."

On July 17, 2012 Earthworks released its report NYS DEC: Inadequate enforcement guarantees irresponsible oil and gas development. The report was released with our partners Catskill Mountainkeeper, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Earthjustice, Environmental Advocates of New York, Environment New York, and Riverkeeper. View the press release.

Background

New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), primarily through the Division of Mineral Resources (DMR), administers regulations and a permitting program for oil and gas drilling and well operations. The Division’s mandate involves “fostering, encouragement and promotion of the development, production and utilization of… oil and gas,” as well as responsibility for enforcement of oil and gas regulations and “the prevention of pollution.”[1] Other divisions within DEC also participate in various aspects of oil and gas permitting and inspections.[2]

New York has been an oil and gas producing state since the 1800s, but compared to other states New York has a relatively small industry. Although the potential for development exists, New York has not yet experienced the boom in shale gas drilling that is occurring in Pennsylvania and other parts of the country, 

In New York, the primary target for shale gas development is the Marcellus Shale, with the deeper Utica Shale also identified as a potential resource.[3] The New York DEC has determined, based on industry projections, that it may receive applications to drill approximately 1,600 Marcellus Shale wells in an average year, and that development of Marcellus Shale wells could span a 30-year period.[4]

Currently, permitting of shale gas wells using horizontal drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing (HVHF) is on hold until DEC completes the environmental review required by state law, including the issuance of a Final Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS).[5]

In June 2012, the New York Times reported that Governor Cuomo was "pursuing a plan to limit the controversial drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing to portions of several struggling New York counties along the border with Pennsylvania, and to permit it only in communities that express support for the technology." But to date, no such plan has been publicly released.

DEC has been criticized by organizations such as Environmental Advocates of New York, for failing to adequately monitor the treatment and disposal of wastewater from existing gas wells. Similarly, our review of publicly available DEC enforcement data shows that New York DEC is not prepared to oversee the expected shale gas boom because it is struggling to govern existing oil and gas wells:

The Path Forward


For more information:

Endnotes

1 New York Codes, Rules and Regulations. Title 6. Chapter V. Resource Management Services. Part 550 Promulgation and Enforcement of Rules and Regulations. Sections 550.1(a) and 550.2(b).

2 For example, oil and gas facilities that discharge wastewater or stormwater require a State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) permit. The Division of Water (DOW) has primary responsibility for technical review of these permits, stormwater permitting, and “conducts site inspections and effluent sampling to monitor facility performance, and to detect, identify and assess the magnitude of violations by a discharger." (Source: Revised Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) for “Well permit issuance for horizontal drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing to develop the Marcellus Shale and other low-permeability gas reservoirs.” 2011. pp. 8-32 and 8-46.)

3 New York Department of Environmental Conservation. Revised Draft SGEIS. Executive Summary. p. 2.

4 ibid. p. 4.

5 “While the process of preparing the SGEIS is ongoing, any entity that applies for a drilling permit for horizontal drilling in the Marcellus Shale and opts to proceed with its permit application will be required to undertake an individual, site-specific environmental review. “ (Source: DEC web site: "Marcellus Shale"

Tagged with: transparency, sanctions, regulations, penalties, oversight, oil and gas, new york department of environmental conservation, new york, inspections, fracking, fines, enforcement, drilling

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