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Mayor Ryan: Gas Drilling Plan Too Narrow to Protect Public Health


Mayor Matt Ryan has joined thousands of legislators who say the DEC's draft on the environmental impacts of natural gas drilling in the area is not good enough.

The mayor says the draft doesn't take into consideration the potential for the Susquehanna River to become polluted.

As a result, the mayor wants the governor to withdraw the DEC's draft.

He says the DEC isn't prepared to handle the possible side effects of water pollution because of the state's budget crisis.

"Where are they going to get the money to put on the kind of stuff they need to monitor this huge amount of activity in this area. They just won't have the people to do it," said Mayor Matt Ryan, Binghamton (D).

Mayor Ryan wrote a letter to the DEC recommending that the agency take several steps to further protect our area and its residents.

BINGHAMTON, NY—Mayor Matt Ryan today formally submitted comments to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) in response to the agency’s draft findings for how high-volume hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling to obtain natural gas in the Marcellus Shale would impact the area’s environment and quality of life.

While recognizing that many portions of the draft are appropriate, Mayor Ryan wrote that the DEC must take a series of steps to ensure that this industrial activity does not jeopardize the area’s long-term social, economic and environmental health. Noting how much work remains to be done, the Mayor stated his hope that Governor David Paterson will withdraw the document to allow the DEC sufficient time for a comprehensive review.

“It’s clear that gas drilling has the potential for great economic gains, but it also could produce even greater harm to our public health, infrastructure and environment,” said Mayor Ryan. “While the DEC has done an admirable job within a very restrictive timeframe and challenging political dynamic, a lot more work remains, and we must get this right for the long-term benefit of all residents in our region. I applaud Governor Paterson, many of our state officials and the staff at the DEC for working to minimize the risks while enabling the one-time rewards, and I strongly urge them to act on our recommendations.”

Today, Mayor Ryan also signed onto the Walter Hang letter, which formally requests the Governor to withdraw the draft statement. The letter now has more than 8,000 signatories, including many elected officials at the federal, state and local levels.


In his letter to the DEC, Mayor Ryan recommended that the agency take the following steps:

Develop a cumulative impact analysis of natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale to understand the full impact that drilling could have on water resources, air quality and infrastructure. This must include a reasonable worst-case scenario and mitigation measures.

Require drillers to submit a “Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Plan,” in which they will explain how they will minimize air pollution.

Establish a process for the handling and disposal of industrial byproducts, especially wastewater.

Ban the use of open-lined pits for waste-water, and require containment storage systems for any and all fluids on site, including fuel, hazardous materials and brine.

The DEC should describe the steps it has taken to consult with Indian Nations residing within the area of proposed development, as required by DEC policy.

Require archeological analysis prior to development, as is mandated for all other forms of public and private development projects.

Ban drilling in the New York City watershed and establish prohibitions on well siting so as to eliminate the possibility of contaminating the source of New York City’s drinking water. The same “zone of prohibition” also should be applied to all upstate drinking water sources.

Impose a severance tax to be directed to a “lock box” fund to support the DEC’s administrative oversight of resource extraction and use.

The draft Environmental Impact Statement should clearly outline the rules and regulations for investigating alleged spills of hazardous materials, enforcement responsibilities and powers, and consequences of violations.

Require drillers to submit a “gathering line” plan that will detail the transmission of gas from the wellhead to a regulated compression station or a regulated and existing transmission line.

Require phased development. Pilot phases located in zones of little or no environmental significance would guide further changes to regulations with limited impact on the local quality of life.

Use market incentives to encourage responsible, safe drilling practices.