Published: September 15, 2008
By: Bruce Baziel
Thank you for the opportunity to present testimony related to Natural Gas Drilling in the New York City Drinking Water Watershed. I am the Senior Staff Attorney for the Oil & Gas Accountability Project (OGAP), a program of Earthworks. Our mission is to work with communities to address and reduce the impacts of oil and gas development.
My testimony is based upon OGAP s experience with oil and gas development during the past decade. In particular, I am drawing upon my experience as an appointed member of the New Mexico Governor s Pit Rule Task Force, OGAP s formal participation in three sets of state rulemakings covering all aspects of oil and gas development over the past 3 years and OGAP s development of, and support for, successful surface owner protection legislation in Colorado and New Mexico.
In addition, my testimony draws upon OGAP staff research and involvement in EPA processes regarding coalbed methane development and hydraulic fracturing. During this involvement, OGAP staff prepared Our Drinking Water at Risk (2005) and The Oil and Gas Industry s Exclusions and Exemptions to Major Environmental Statutes (2007).
We have also produced the Oil and Gas at Your Door? A Landowner s Guide to Oil and Gas Development (2nd Ed., 2005), the preeminent guide for landowners facing the prospect of oil and gas development on their land.
Finally, in response to numerous inquiries from individuals, organizations and local governments, OGAP produced Marcellus Gas Shale A Report (2008) earlier this year, which discusses what can be expected from gas development in the Marcellus shale.
My testimony will first address the three main risks to water posed by gas development: well drilling and production, hydraulic fracturing and transportation of fluids to and from the wellsite. I will then briefly describe some specific incidents that illustrate these risks in a number of different states. Then, I will briefly discuss the current New York regulations most applicable to the risks associated with gas development. Finally, I will present some of the approaches that other municipalities and states have developed to try to address these risks.