EWG Says Proposed NY State Fracking Rules Won't Assure Safety
The Environmental Working Group today submitted comments to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) on its revised draft regulations for high-volume hydraulic fracturing. EWG warned New York officials that the revised rules contain too many flaws and scientific gaps to ensure that so-called “fracking” can be conducted safely.
Highlights of EWG’s comments:
- Lack of a health assessment. Natural gas production poses many risks to human health. The agency’s decision to release the revised regulations before completion of a pending assessment of potential health risks raises serious questions as to whether the agency is committed to ensuring that New York residents will be protected.
- Inadequate safeguards for water supplies. The regulations would allow hydraulic fracturing as close as 500 feet from private water wells and certain aquifers, even though the experience of other states has shown that these setbacks are grossly insufficient to protect the precious water resources from potential contamination.
- Outdated provisions for lower-volume hydraulic fracturing. Without scientific explanation or justification, the department has once again proposed a volume threshold of 300,000 gallons of water per well for the definition of high-volume hydraulic fracturing. Wells that use less water would not be considered high-volume and would only be regulated under outmoded environmental protection measures adopted two decades ago.
- More chemical disclosure. The agency’s rules for disclosing chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing give drilling companies far too much leeway to hide important information and use harmful substances.
- Insufficient planning for disposal of toxic wastewater. Scientists and engineers have warned New York officials that the state is not equipped to deal with drilling wastewater. The department failed to demonstrate that the large volumes of toxic wastewater produced by high-volume hydraulic fracturing could be disposed of safely and responsibly.
Given the many environmental, public health and economic risks associated with high-volume hydraulic fracturing, New Yorkers deserve a rigorous scientific review of the issue and robust regulations that will ensure clean air and water, economic security and public health before state officials make any decision to authorize high-volume hydraulic fracturing. EWG urged the Department of Environmental Conservation not to authorize fracking until it can conduct further research to ensure the protection of New York’s environment and citizens.
EWG’s comments are available here