Senator Seward was the lead witness at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) hearing on the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS). The GEIS addresses new issues and potential environmental impacts of natural gas exploration and drilling in the Marcellus Shale formation.
“Natural gas can help shore up our energy needs, and bring much needed revenue to our upstate economy,” said Seward. “We must make sure environmental concerns are met, and I am confident the DEC is the best agency to provide the necessary protections.”
The DEC has issued a draft scoping document, and is conducting hearings across New York to allow the public the opportunity to comment on issues unique to Marcellus and other horizontal shale formation drilling.
Complete text of Senator Seward’s testimony is attached.
State Senator James L. Seward Statement 12/02/08
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Public Scoping Meeting for Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement for Natural Gas Drilling
The Marcellus Shale is one of the largest natural gas fields in North America and could provide a multi-billion dollar economic boost for the areas in and surrounding the Marcellus Shale formation. An economic boost we definitely need in our upstate region.
Skyrocketing fuel prices earlier this year have clearly demonstrated our need to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Reducing consumption, increasing our use of renewable energy and alternative fuels, and increasing exploration will all help to further this goal. Utilizing the tremendous energy resources in the Marcellus Shale formation could play a significant role in helping us to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, it's a domestic source, keeping energy dollars here at home.
That being said, I also believe that it is important that environmental protections are in place to ensure that our beautiful area does not suffer environmental harm as a result of natural gas exploration.
I commend DEC for instituting this process to develop a Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) to address new issues and potential environmental impacts which may arise as a result of natural gas exploration and drilling in the Marcellus Shale formation.
I have reviewed the draft scoping document and have generally found it to be quite comprehensive.
Some issues which I find to be particularly important and which I believe must be addressed in the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement include the following:
-it is imperative the composition of fracturing fluids be known and that any additives to such fluids are reviewed and determined to be safe;
-independent on site testing and verification of fracturing fluid contents must be conducted;
-fluid handling both at the site and during transport to and from the site must be accomplished in such a manner so as to ensure that there is no environmental harm;
-safe fracturing fluid disposal options and methods must be identified and approved;
-if recycled or reused for any purpose, must be environmentally sound;
-water withdrawals must be addressed and regulated to ensure that such withdrawals do not negatively impact other current or future uses of a water supply;
-adequate protections must be in place to protect ground water and wells;
-on-site well inspections are needed to ensure compliance;
-local government notification and opportunity for comment should be provided for at the earliest stages - local governments should be given notice of the filing of drilling permit applications within their jurisdictions when such applications are filed not after they are granted, local impacts are best judged by local officials;
-DEC must initiate coordination with PSC to regulate all gas gathering lines leading to transmission lines to ensure sound environmental practices.
These are the major issues which my constituents have identified and shared with me relating to natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale formation.
In summary, the financial benefits associated with natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale could be enormous. In addition, the benefits from an energy supply perspective are also important. We must ensure, however, that the utmost consideration is given to protecting our environment as we move forward in capturing the benefits of this resource.
The draft scoping document, with additions I've mentioned, provide a good foundation for the consideration of the many issues relating to drilling in the Marcellus Shale and will help to ensure that our environment is protected while we move forward toward enjoying the benefits associated with this valuable natural resource.
Finally, I urge the DEC to carefully consider additional issues that others bring forward at this session.