NY to Issue Fracking Regs--What will they mean for trout streams?

Today, New York officials announced that the state will move forward in issuing revised regulations on hydraulic fracturing for shale gas drilling, despite the fact that its environmental review—a process that should inform how hydraulic fracturing is regulated—is not yet complete.  New York’s move is both procedurally and substantively flawed.

The revised regulations – which will govern hydraulic fracturing throughout the state -- will be released to the public in mid-December, kicking off a 30-day comment period.  However, New York has decided not to hold a hearing to allow the public to voice its concerns.   The state will then have 90 days to finalize the regulations, potentially hastening the permitting process for hydraulic fracturing.

What does this mean for TU members and other anglers? It means that we are denied the opportunity to provide meaningful input and determine whether the state’s revised regulations provide adequate protections for our trout streams.

New York did not have to take this course of action.  The state could have let the draft regulations expire and then issued new regulations once the environmental review was complete.  Instead, New York is rushing through the regulatory process.

Given that the draft regulations released last fall did not require that drilling be located some distance back from streams other than for drinking water supplies and did not address many additional concerns raised in the environmental review, New York’s 7,500 TU members can hardly be optimistic that the revised regulations will adequately protect New York’s rivers and streams.

Ron Urban, chair of the New York Council of TU, hit the nail on the head today when he told me that without knowing what is in the final environmental impact statement, trout anglers are being left in the dark about the kind of protections the state has planned to safeguard our beloved trout streams.

And we have many of these streams about which to worry… coldwater rivers and trout populations throughout the Delaware River basin and streams such as Owego Creek and Catatonk Creek in Tioga County in the Southern Tier all stand the chance of being impacted by hydraulic fracturing and shale gas development.

What can TU members do?  Tell the DEC to withdraw the revised regulations, and wait until the environmental impact review is finalized before issuing new regulations.   Really, what is the rush?

Contact: Joseph Martens, Commissioner, New York Department of Environmental Conservation, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-1011. Call him at 518-402-8545 or email him at: joemartens@gw.dec.state.ny.us

----Katy Dunlap, TU’s Eastern Water Project Director, Alpine, New York (kdunlap@tu.org)



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