NY State News

This is Great News for the Long Term Protection of the Delaware River Watershed.  This is a direct result of the Petition that was initiated by the "Toxicstargeting" Group in New York State (Walter Hang).


http://www.state.ny.us/governor/executive_orders/exeorders/EO41.html


EXECUTIVE ORDER
NO. 41: REQUIRING FURTHER ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW 

WHEREAS, the 2009 New York State Energy Plan supports the development of in-State energy resources, including natural gas, to achieve the Plan's multiple public policy objectives; and

 

WHEREAS, low-volume hydraulic fracturing, or conventional fracking, has been used successfully and safely in New York State for many years to extract natural gas consistent with the Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) for Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Regulatory Program promulgated by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (Department) in 1992; and

 

WHEREAS, new technologies have emerged, and are being deployed in other states, to extract natural gas more efficiently through a process known as high-volume hydraulic fracturing combined with horizontal drilling; and

 

WHEREAS, there is a need for further study of this new technology prior to deployment in New York State; and

 

WHEREAS, in 2008, I directed the Commissioner of Environmental Conservation to initiate a formal public process to update the 1992 GEIS to ensure that any new technologies deployed in New York State are first thoroughly analyzed and regulated to ensure that all environmental and public health impacts are mitigated or avoided; and

 

WHEREAS, the Department issued a draft scope for an updated GEIS on October 6, 2008, held public meetings in the Marcellus shale region, received more than 3,000 written comments, and issued a final scope for the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) on February 6, 2009.  The Department released the Draft SGEIS for public review and comment on September 30, 2009, held four public hearings in the region and New York City, and received more than 13,000 written comments during a public comment period that closed December 31, 2009; and

 

WHEREAS, tens of thousands of citizens, landowners, local governments, large and small businesses, non-governmental organizations, and other stakeholders have expressed their heartfelt support for or opposition to the new technology, but most agree that an objective, science-based analysis is the best approach to setting new policy.

 

NOW, THEREFORE, I, David A. Paterson, Governor of the State of New York, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the State of New York, do hereby order as follows:

  1. The Department shall complete its review of the public comments, make such revisions to the Draft SGEIS that are necessary to analyze comprehensively the environmental impacts associated with high-volume hydraulic fracturing combined with horizontal drilling, ensure that such impacts are appropriately avoided or mitigated consistent with the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA), other provisions of the Environmental Conservation Law and other laws, and ensures that adequate regulatory measures are identified to protect public health and the environment; and
  2. On or about June 1, 2011, the Department shall publish a Revised Draft SGEIS, accept public comment on the revisions for a period of not less than thirty days, and may schedule public hearings on such revisions to be conducted in the Marcellus shale region and New York City; and
  3. Recognizing that, pursuant to SEQRA, no permits may be issued prior to the completion of a Final SGEIS, the Department, subsequent to the conclusion of the public comment period, shall report to the Governor on the status of the Final SGEIS and the regulatory conditions that are necessary to include in oil and gas well permits to protect public health and the environment.     

 

G I V E N   under my hand and the Privy Seal of the State in the City of Albany this thirteenth day of December in the year two thousand ten.

 

BY THE GOVERNOR 

Secretary to the Governor

Greetings,

I write to bring you up to date on the stunning developments regarding the veto of the mini-moratorium bill and Governor David A. Paterson's landmark Executive Order 41.  
When the Governor vetoed the mini-moratorium bill late last Saturday, it was reported that he would issue an Executive Order 
requiring that "...if approved, high-volume, horizontal hydraulic fracturing would not be permitted until July 1, 2011, at the earliest."  
Mini-moratorium supporters declared: "
New York is the first state in the union to legally impose a statewide moratorium on high-volume hydraulic fracturing..."  They also called the Governor's action an “historic victory for the citizens of New York State.” 

In fact, the Executive Order does not impose any moratorium on horizontal hydrofracking.  
According to "Executive Order No. 41: Requiring Further Environmental Review," no horizontal hydrofracking permits can be issued until a Final SGEIS is adopted.  This is exactly the same de facto moratorium that has been in-place in New York for the last two and a half years.

Nevertheless, the Governor's order is SUPER IMPORTANT because it requires DEC to issue a "revised" draft SGEIS, accept public comment on the revisions and submit a report to the Governor regarding "the regulatory conditions that are necessary to include in oil and gas well permits to protect public health and the environment
."

The 
Executive Order specifically requires: "The Department shall complete its review of the public comments, make such revisions to the Draft SGEIS that are necessary to analyze comprehensively (emphasis added) the environmental impacts associated with high-volume hydraulic fracturing combined with horizontal drilling, ensure that such impacts are appropriately avoided or mitigated consistent with the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA), other provisions of the Environmental Conservation Law and other laws, and ensures that adequate regulatory measures are identified to protect public health and the environment;"

DEC cannot possibly fulfill the Executive Order unless it expands the original scope of its SGEIS proceeding.  If you read between the lines of Acting DEC Commissioner Peter Iwanowicz's quotes in today's New York Times, that conclusion is perfectly clear:

"Peter M. Iwanowicz, the department’s acting commissioner, said many of the comments have criticized the proposed standards for failing to adequately address issues like the cumulative impact of multiple drill sites, disposal of wastewater from the drilling and the protection of drinking waterHe said 'it behooves' the next administration to incorporate the range of different issues in the revised draft."

The specific issues Peter references were excluded from the scope of the original SGEIS.  Wastewater management and drinking water protection are two of the critical issues spelled out in our coalition letter to Governor Paterson.

"The governor’s order said no drilling permits could be issued until completion of the final standards 'subsequent to the conclusion of the public comment period,' meaning July 1 at the earliest. Mr. Iwanowicz said drilling could theoretically begin in 2011, 'but a lot of it depends on how the issues are addressed by this draft.'"

See: http://www.toxicstargeting.com/news/2010-12-14/new-round-comments-drilling or  http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/14/nyregion/14frack.html?ref=nyregion

You can read the Executive Order at: http://www.state.ny.us/governor/executive_orders/exeorders/EO41.html


We must take concerted action to make sure Governor-Elect Cuomo does not rescind the Executive Order.  That is highly unlikely because he would become the focus of intense criticism, to say the least.  
We must also require the scope of the revised draft SGEIS to be expanded to include each and every single one of the major concerns identified in our coalition letter as well as by the thousands of other elected officials, environmental groups, business owners and concerned citizens.
I will be in touch very shortly to ask your help with those challenges.
In conclusion, I want to thank everyone who helped our coalition letter effort during the last year.  The Executive Order affords an opportunity to send the draft SGEIS "back to the drawing board."  It is precisely what we have collectively worked so hard to accomplish.  
We are not out of the thicket yet, but things appear to be getting brighter.  
Keep your fingers crossed.  

Happy Holidays.
Walter

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