NYS Senator Antoine M. Thompson (D-Parts of Erie & Niagara Counties) and Chair of the Environmental Conservation Committee, today called on DEC Commissioner Alexander “Pete” Grannis to extend the comment period on the DEC’s proposals for managing a new form of gas drilling in New York State (see letter attached). Thompson noted that “gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale beneath New York State opens up tremendous opportunities, but also poses risks to the health, welfare and pocketbook of New Yorkers if not done properly”
On Wednesday, September 30, 2009, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) released an 800 page Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (DSGEIS) governing potential natural gas drilling activities in the Marcellus Shale formation. The DSGEIS addresses potential impacts from using a process called horizontal drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing. Originally, the DEC provided for a sixty day comment period, with the deadline of November 30, 2009. After Senator Thompson and others pressed for more time and greater public participation in the process the comment period was extended to December 31, 2009.
Senator Thompson has again requested that Commissioner Grannis extend the comment period another 60 days, pushing the deadline back to February 28, 2010. Thompson stated “It has become clear that additional time to comment is critical to ensuring proper and adequate analysis of all potential impacts and policies being proposed. The complexity and sensitivity of this issue requires that every step in the process be carefully adhered to and made available to all New Yorkers. “
In November, Senator Thompson toured pre and post drilling sites in Pennsylvania and spoke with local residents affected by this type of drilling. After visiting our southern neighbor it became clear that every aspect and angle of this process needs to be reviewed, so we may move forward with our eyes wide open knowing everything we can about the process and possible risks involved.
Thompson concluded “We must afford citizens, representatives of the environmental groups, industry representatives and public officials an opportunity to comment and participate in this process”
Senator Thompson's full letter is attached.