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Guideline on How to Comment on DEC’s Proposed Hydrofracking Regulations

September 22, 2011

Guideline to comment on SGEIS flaws created for public use

On Sept. 7, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation released a revised draft of its Supplemental Generic Impact Statement, a document which will serve as a guideline for issuing permits for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, should this drilling technique be ultimately allowed to take place in New York State.

A Wiki-page for commenting on the shortcomings of the GEIS has been created for public use by William Huston of Binghamton, who is lead editor of the page along with James "Chip" Northrup of Cooperstown. The site, which groups related items together, credits sources, provides a number of expert analyses, and identifies the major flaws of the SGEIS, may be accessed at http://tinyurl.com/2011SGEISFlaws.

The webpage contains contributions from parties in various fields of expertise, such as attorney Helen Slottje of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Foundation, which has educated on and advocated for municipal bans on fracking based on New York State Home Rule rights. Another contributor is Anthony Ingraffea, Dwight C. Baum Professor of Engineering at Cornell University. Ingraffea has lectured widely on the potential scale and scope of fracking and the state’s lack of preparedness for this drilling procedure to take place. Also featured are commentaries from Lou Allstadt, former Executive Vice President of Mobil Oil Corporation, Roger Downs, conservation program manager for Sierra Club-Atlantic Chapter, and other prominent opponents of fracking.

Northrup, who since 2010 has given many presentations on the flaws of the SGEIS, and wrote much of the commentary on the site, feels that the latest version of the SGEIS is not much improved over the original document, released in 2009, which, he also believes to have been seriously flawed.

“This generic approach to fracking allows the DEC to let matters slide from the outset. Our first and foremost comment is that there are no rules for horizontal hydrofracking in New York State," Northrup said. “If your town has no land use ordinance, the "regulations" of the SGEIS will be the only protection you have. As written, that will virtually insure that rural water wells, streams and ponds will be polluted by shale gas drilling,” Northrup writes on the site.

"The GEIS was out of date when it was published nine years ago. It was supposed to be reduced to a set of rules, but never was. We have no expectations that the current SGEIS will be turned into a set of rules either, since that would require the DEC to adhere to those rules. It simply does not have the staff and resources to do that,” he said.

Northrup urges residents to respond as soon as possible and to continue to send in additional responses. Sample responses are posted on this site; http://tinyurl.com/dSGEIS-Responses

Written public comment on the SGEIS will be accepted through the close of business December 12, 2011 by two methods only:

•Electronic submission using a web-based comment form available on DEC’s website. This is the method preferred by the DEC; or

•Paper submission mailed or delivered to: Attn: dSGEIS Comments, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-6510. Name, address, and affiliation (if any) of the commenter are requested.

Due to the expected volume, comments that are faxed, telephoned, or emailed to the DEC will not be accepted for the official record. This is to ensure that all comments are captured properly and can be included during the review process.

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