You are here

EPA Weighs in on New York Fracking Plan


Public comment on the state D-E-C's draft fracking environmental impact statement - or SGEIS - is done. Reaction to that comment is not. Especially the hundreds submitted late last night by the Federal Environmental Protection Agency.

Joint Landowner Coalition attorney Scott Kurkoski hasn't combed through the dozens of pages of EPA suggestions yet, but is encouraged by the agency's cover letter recognizing natural gas as a key in the country's energy future.

"The EPA believes that New York state is leading the way on these issues throughout our country. And that's what we've been telling everyone. The SGEIS is a plan that establishes safeguards for our lands that is better than any other state in the country," said Kurkoski.

When asked the impact the E-P-A's comments will have on the state's final SGEIS, the D-E-C didn't comment specifically on the E-P-A's suggestions. Those critical of the state's plan say the EPA is going to share authority with the state in some regulations and lead in others.

"For some of the regulatory programs like if you were dumping gas drilling wastewater into a local municipal treatment plant, EPA is the principal authority," said Walter Hang, President of Toxics Targeting.

And Hang says the EPA has submitted almost twice as many comments as it did for the first SGEIS draft in 2009.

"The main concerns were failure to come up with a way to deal with this incredibly toxic wastewater, failure to protect drinking water, failure to protect radiologic hazards for both the worker and environment."

But Kurkoski sees the end of the public comment period being the start of bring fracking to New York.

"Companies interested in leasing properties in New York should get busy because landowners are ready to do that. I think companies should be too."