New York is the only state in the United States that has no autonomous environmental agency to oversee fracking and no state tax on gas production at the wellhead to pay for regulations. It is the fracking regulatory equivalent of Eritrea. This is not a coincident of circumstances, this is by conspiracy, by design. Here is a timeline of how this has unfolded: www.NYFrackingScandal.com
The Timeline to Frack New York
1972 — First NYS Oil and Gas regulations
The NY State Legislature passes a law to create the New York’s State Environmental Quality Review Act that gives the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) the authority to approve or deny development projects based on the environmental, economic and public health impacts. Implementation of the law is phased in between 1977 and 1978.
The DEC finalizes a “Generic Environmental Impact Statement” (GEIS) in order to expedite approval of all oil and gas drilling permits which would allow for the oil and gas industry to circumvent the need for a rigorous environmental review of each drilling permit application. Basically, this allowed for DEC to use with a one-size-fits-few generic approach to every oil and gas permit in NY.
After the finalization of the 1992 GEIS, the DEC was obligated to revise its oil and gas drilling regulations – in line with the updated GEIS. Over a period of 5 years, DEC held meetings, took input, and drafted revised regulations in 1997.
The DEC did not share those revised regulations with the public or legislators when it issued a supplemental GEIS, the SGEIS. And in fact declared that it had “lost” the 1997 drafts – because the 1997 drafts offered substantially more protections for the general public, adjacent landowners and the environment than the regulations the DEC issued on November 29, 2012
The DEC’s Division of Mineral Resources substantially guts the proposed 1997 regulatory proposals, eliminating safeguards for the environment, general public and adjacent landowner. Yet, even these reduced proposed regulations are not shown to the public
during the entire 4 year regulatory review process.
The oil and gas lobby persuades the DEC to substantially amend the state’s Compulsory Integration law, effectively privatizing eminent domain for oil and gas speculators in New York state.
2005 Washington – Oil and Gas industry exempted from Clean Water and Clean Air Act via the “Halliburton loophole”
David Paterson is sworn in as NYS Governor.
March 26 Gas lobbyists give DEC staff the proposed HVHF spacing unit regulations
July 23 2008 — Patterson signs spacing-unit law written by gas lobby, setting stage for fracking, but he also directs the DEC to update 1992 GEIS
2008 Washington- SEC changes the regulations on how shale gas reserves can be accounted for, effectively turning shale gas exploration into a financial shell game.
Feb 2009 — Final Scope of new SGEIS
Sept 30, 2009 — dSGEIS released proposing a shale gas well setback of 50 feet from major lakes.
In discussions on the Generic Environmental Impact Statement on the Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Regulatory Program (GEIS) as the State began considering permits for horizontally hydrofracked wells, citizens and environmental advocacy groups produced evidence of the risks of horizontal hydraulic fracturing, and DEC agreed that a Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement on the Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Regulatory Program (SGEIS) for horizontal drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing was warranted. The DEC’s Division of Mineral Resources is given lead agency status on the SGEIS. The DEC’s Division of Mineral Resources is known to work hand in hand with the oil and gas industry in NY, which includes a revolving door to the industry for former heads of the DMN, such as Greg Sovas:
Governor Paterson authorizes an update of the GEIS – calling for the DEC to address the risks of groundwater contamination, disposal of frack waste, impacts on neighbors and cumulative impacts of shale gas industrialization.
The DEC completely ignores the Governor’s directive, drafts the SGEIS with wording from the gas lobbyist and propose a setback of HVHF wells from sole source drinking water lakes of 50 feet.
From 2008 through 2009, public scoping and public hearings were held on the SGEIS. The public submits 13,000 comments on the SGEIS. At no time were the DEC’s previous draft regulations from the 1992 GEIS shown to the public.
Dec 31. 2009 — The public submits 13,000 comments on the dSGEIS.
With each iteration of the SGEIS – there are increasing protections for large voting blocks, such as the New York City reservoir watershed via political carve outs, but few protections for rural Upstate
Jan 19, 2010 Governor Patterson proposes a state production tax on oil and gas produced in the state, a “severance tax,” to offset the cost of regulating the industry and defray the costs to to state for road repair, etc. estimated by the Department of Transportation to be hundreds of millions of dollars. New York is one of the only states without a state production tax.
The plan is immediately challenged by state senators with talking points from the gas lobby, and is dropped.
Leaving New York state a tax haven for frackers, off-loading the cost of road damage, enforcement, and environmental clean ups on the general public.
The New York State Senate passed a moratorium on high-volume hydraulic fracturing bill with an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 49 to 9. They pass the bill weeks before the SGEIS is supposed to be finalized and DEC permits issued.
October 21, 2010
DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis fired by Governor Patterson’s Chief of Staff Larry Schwartz. He was fired after a memo from Grannis was leaked to the press earlier in the week where Grannis complained to the Budget Division about the 209 layoffs of DEC employees cutting the agency’s staff by 22% since April 2008.
The New York State Assembly passes the fracking moratorium bill with bipartisan vote of 93 to 43.
Governor David Paterson vetoes the fracking moratorium bill but passes an Executive Order 41 for a one year moratorium on horizontal but not vertical fracking and opens the SGEIS for another round of public comments.
Andrew Cuomo becomes Governor of New York State and signs the continuation of Executive Order 41, which enacts the Governor Paterson’s Executive Order into the Cuomo Administration.
Hundreds of concerned doctors, scientists and environmental groups sent a letter to NYS Department of Health Commissioner Dr Nirav Shah informing him of the potential health impacts. It also requested that the DOH become a co-lead agency with DEC on the SGEIS process since it was becoming evident from new studies in Pennsylvania, Colorado and reports elsewhere that public health was threatened.
Additionally, the signatories requested that the SGEIS be withdrawn and the process begun again with the inclusion of a Health Impact Assessment. They request a meeting with Commissioner Shah that was never granted.
July 1, 2011 — The state Department of Environmental Conservation formed the 12-member High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing Advisory Panel of a mix of environmental leaders, businesses and Binghamton-area lawmakers including NYS Senator Tom Libous and Assemblymember Donna Lupardo. The panel was charged with developing recommendations for DEC oversight of developing fracking regulations
July 8 2011 — prdSGEIS released
Sept 8 2011 — rdSGEIS + regs + SPDES + econ study released, comment period opened
Jan 11, 2012 — 67,000 comments received on the SGEIS
Jan 11, 2012 — The January 12th meeting of the state’s High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing Advisory Panel was abruptly canceled and postponed to January 26. Then the January 26th meeting was canceled and the panel never reconvened. In June, reporter Jon Campbell broke the story that the the NYS Conference of Environmental Health Directors and the NYS Association of County Health Officials (NYSACHO) were scheduled to present two separate reports at the January 12th meeting on concerns about how fracking could burden County Health agencies. Their reports were never distributed to the DEC’s advisory board, nor were they formally released to the public. Furthermore, the DEC had said the Jan. 12 meeting was postponed because the “main presenter requested additional time to prepare.” Yet Linda Wagner, executive director of the Association of County Health Officials, said in an e-mail to Campbell that the group asked to postpone “due to weather concerns for those traveling.”
May 9, 2012
Governor Cuomo meets with representatives from the gas industry for an hour including Brad Gill, Executive Director, IOGA, Karen Moreau, Executive Director, New York State Petroleum Council and Jim Carr, Governmental Analyst, Hinman Straub, P.C. Meanwhile, the Governor refuses to meet with scientists such as Dr. Ingraffea of Cornell, environmentalist such as Sandra Steingraber, journalists, Josh Fox or activists, such as Yoko Ono.
May 2012 — Controversy around University of Buffalo’s Shale Resources and Society Institute starts when it released its first report that concluded that state regulators in Pennsylvania have improved oversight of the fracking industry and New York’s regulations will prevent environmental impacts. The university at first said the study was peer-reviewed, but later withdrew that statement.
New York Times story floats Cuomo Administration plan to test frack 5 counties in the Southern Tier region of New York. Followed by widespread public opposition in the Southern Tier and across the state that Cuomo Administration would consider creating a “sacrifice zone” while protecting New York City’s water supply, effectively gerrymandering the state environmentally.
Documents uncovered through FOIL requests reveal collusion between gas lobbyists and DEC staff on the SGEIS and fracking regulations.
With predictable results, the gas lobbyists draft key sections of the regulations, as the DEC staff take dictation:
June 29, 2012
An article in the Albany weekly paper Metroland, outs the Director of DEC’s Division of Mineral Resources (DMN) as a climate denier who publicly signed the Global Warming Petition (petitionproject.org). This creates public outrage and concerns that some of the most critical information submitted to DEC regarding how fracking is a contributor to climate change will be disregarded and ignored.
Thus, effectively putting a climate change denier in charge of promoting fracking in New York:
July 6, 2012
Gannett News reporter Jon Campbell revealed that a pair of county health department reports written for the state’s Hydrofracking Advisory Panel were kept secret from the panel.
One report was written by the state Association of County Health Officials and the other from the NYS Conference of Environmental Health Directors. The state issued conflicting reasons why they were never given to the Advisory Panel, but the fact remains that the reports – which raise serious concerns about fracking – were kept from the advisory panel members.
The Governor’s Fracking Advisory Panel is disbanded after protests by the gas lobby.
The New York State Senate Democratic Conference hold a forum that further investigated the full extent of the DEC and industry collusion.
August 30, 2012
Division of Mineral Resources Director Bradley J. Field claims he ‘does not recall” signing the petition that disavowed climate change and denies the fact that high-volume fracking has already taken place in NYS despite hard evidence to the contrary.
September 26, 2012
President of Toxics Targeting Walter Hang releases information that documents decades of enforcement problems with the DEC’s Mineral Resources Division including over 5,000 uncapped existing oil and gas wells across NY.
October 4, 2012
New York’s medical and scientific community writes to Governor Cuomo outlining why the state’s health review is inadequate and objecting to the exclusion of New York’s medical and scientific community from the process and review. Public health is never best served by secrecy, yet there has been absolutely no public component to the state’s health review. http://concernedhealthny.org/letters-to-governor-cuomo/
November 29, 2012
Cuomo’s DEC sends out its final draft of the HVHF drilling regulations allowing for 30 days of public comment over the holiday season, without scheduling a public hearing in violation of the State Administrative Procedures Act (SAPA). The proposed regulations offer few protections for land uses, water sources, the general public, the environment or landowners.
December 5, 2012
NYS Assemblymember and DEC Hydro-fracking Panel member Donna Lupardo sends a letter to DEC Commissioner Joe Martens asking a series of unanswered questions about the health review and requests that the panel, which has not met in over a year, reconvene to discuss the health review. She has not received a response to the letter.
January 10, 2013
Three Assembly Chairs, Robert Sweeney, Richard Gottfried, and Charles Lavine wrote to DEC Commissioner Joe Martens and DOH Commissioner Nirav Shah objecting to the state’s revised fracking regulations, the comment period, and the lack of transparency. They wrote, jointly, that they were “concerned that this evaluation reflects the thinking of people who are helping shape the administration’s decision on fracking. The evaluation suggests that conclusions have been drawn before research is conducted.”
The Assembly chairs and other members of the Assembly held an official hearing on the fracking regulations on January 10, 2013, where both the DEC and DOH refused to testify.
The DEC receives over 200,000 comments on the proposed drilling regulations, almost entirely opposed to Cuomo’s proposals.
January 11, 2013
The Community Environmental Defense Council send the DEC demand letter addressing the DEC’s procedural violations.
Bloomberg News reports that the expert – Robert Jacobi – the Department of Environmental Conservation hired to conduct the state’s seismology study has tied to the oil and gas industry. Additionally, Jacobi served as the director of a discredited University of Buffalo Shale Resources and Society Institute, which produced a report that was widely discredited and thrown out by the university because of concerns about academic integrity and suspicions that its results were influenced by the oil and gas industry. Bloomberg News story:
On February 8, 2013
NYS Senators Avella, Krueger, Tkacyzk, and Gipson sent a joint letter to Governor Cuomo and Commissioner Martens objecting to Jacobi’s position, calling for the seismology study to be immediately released to the public, and for the state not to make a decision about fracking until many questions and issues they raised are thoroughly addressed. The senators’ letter is here:
February 8, 2013
Department of Environmental Commissioner Martens and Department of Health Commissioner Shah each mislead the legislature about the status of the state’s contracted outside health reviewers. Additionally, the state has grossly mischaracterized the nature and scope of that review. See more here:
February 11, 2013:
NY Fracking Scandal is launched. Participating organizations call on Albany County District Attorney to investigate conflicts of interest that top aide to Governor Cuomo Larry Schwartz.
Lawyers put the DEC on notice that they will be sued for failing to disclose the basis of their proposed regulations, as required by state law.
March – Governor Cuomo says that the DEC will proceed without independent health studies
Cuomo advises frackers on how to improve their public relations
March 12 One of the authors of the DEC’s regulations, Steve Russo, takes the revolving door out into a job with a shale gas law firm, thus signaling that fracking is about to be permitted – under the rules Russo wrote. . .
After all is said and done, if your area does not have specific protections as political carve-outs in the SGEIS, or named protections in the final HVHF regulations, or a town ban on shale gas industrialization, then you will get fracked – and you can blame Governor Cuomo for it.