The 5 Grisanti bills each codify the water use thresholds that would exempt a frack job of under 300,000 gallons from the SGEIS review propose. Meaning any propane frack job would fall outside of the scope of the SGEIS. And any small horizontal water frack – 300,000 gallons or less – does not have to meet the environmental safeguards proposed in the SGEIS.
The SGEIS pertains to gas wells that consume 300,000 gallons of water or more during the frack. Gas wells that consume less than this threshold will only be subject to the permitting conditions established by the 1992 GEIS and the DEC”s regulations, which were last updated in 1972. And are were deemed inadequate by an independent review 18 years ago:
Since the de facto moratorium was put in place July 2008, the department has issued nearly 1000 permits to drill for oil or gas in New York State. Most of these applications were vertical wells that did not exceed the water use threshold of 80,000 gallons. The 80,000-gallon figure came from the maximum amount of water anticipated for a hydraulic fractured operation in the original 1992 GEIS.
The 2011 SGEIS identifies 300,000 gallons as the minimum amount of water required for HVHHF and the starting point for new Marcellus Shale rdSGEIS regulations. (As do the new Senate bills). There is a 220,000 gallon gap between the two thresholds with no analysis of the environmental impacts of natural gas wells that use between 80,000 gallons and 300,000 thousand gallons of water. (The September 2009 and July 2011 drafts of the SGEIS suggested that additional SEQRA review would be required for any application that fell between the water requirements of these two thresholds but the subsequent September 2011 draft dropped the subject entirely – creating a loophole – for small horizontal water fracks and a de facto loophole for propane fracks.)
By creating the apparently arbitrary 300,000 threshold, the DEC (and now Grisanti through these 5 bills) is more than tripling the water requirements considered by the 1992 GEIS, without any justification, and creating a two-track system of regulatory controls where there is a chasm between protections.
The rdSGEIS estimates that only 10 percent of the gas wells developed in the future will be vertical wells, many of which will use less than 300,000 gallons per frack, suggesting that thousands of applications in the coming years will be allowed to use NY State’s POTW’s for disposal, spread wastes on roadways, use open waste pits, inject undisclosed fracking chemicals, and blow up the countryside with propane – and be free of new emissions standards, and other improved environmental protections required of HVHHF wells. Many of the problematic Dimmock, PA wells were considered low volume horizontals. The Tioga County Commie Clusterfrack is clear off the SGEIS radar.
The intent of the 1992 GEIS was to create the framework for new regulations to govern oil, gas and salt solution mining in the State of New York, but that rulemaking process never took place.
It would be entirely inappropriate now for the DEC to move forward with creating regulations for supplemental conditions to the 1992 GEIS without first addressing the need for foundational regulations on which to base the supplement. The Senate needs to compel the DEC to create one unified regulatory standard for all oil and gas development, not solidify an unbalanced program through legislation. The current proposed regulations and Grisanti suite of bills create a double standard that will inevitably lead to abuse and unanticipated environmental degradation.
3–18 The July 2011 draft SGEIS supported the notion that the DMR should not be regulating oil and gas with outdated permitting conditions:
“>This section of the draft was expunged in the September 2011 draft. SEQRA determinations were never meant to serve as a regulatory program yet the dSGEIS proposes to continue regulating low volume drilling applications (under 300,000k gal) using outdated SEQRA permitting conditions. The DEC has the obligation to go back and fold all oil, gas and salt solution mining into one comprehensive regulatory program. <
At the very least, the threshold should be reduced in the 5 bills from 300,000 to 80,000 to reflect the standards set by the 1992 GEIS. But even then – creating disparate standards for low volume and high volume fracking when talking about waste disposal (when ostensibly all the wastes have the same characteristics) will lead to loophole and abuse. The bills, as presented, barely improve upon what the DEC has already proposed through the SGEIS. Which, in terms of actual regulations, are the worst in the US:
The Grisanti bills also fail to address where all the fracking flowback is actually supposed to be disposed of in New York. Which was the lesson of Love Canal. In Grisanti’s district.