Department of Environmental Protection Clarifies Fracking E-Mail (UPDATE)

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Mayor Mike Bloomberg has had his share of public reservations about hydrofracking, urging government honchos to keep drilling far from NYC's water. The City's environmental agency is on board, too.

But a strange little newsletter released this afternoon from the Department of Environmental Protection sends mixed signals, even if it doesn't mean to.

The e-mail, which contains aggregated news about hydraulic fracturing and sends it to subscribers like Runnin' Scared, could read a little like pro-hydraulic fracturing propaganda (though ostensibly it's not and was probably just compiled awkwardly).

Still, it's worth a peek.

Titled: "Recent News on Natural Gas Drilling in the Marcellus Shale" the lion's share of the all-caps headlines alludes glowingly to the controversial practice, such as "FRACK RESPONSIBLY AND RISKS - AND QUAKES - ARE SMALL," "HYDROFRACKING GETS A BOOST IN PRESIDENT OBAMA'S SPEECH," "GAS DRILLER TO PAY MILLIONS TO LANDOWNER COALITION," and "NEW YORK HYDROFRACKING SUPPORTERS HAIL OBAMA'S SPEECH, HOPE FOR END TO MARCELLUS SHALE MORATORIUM."

You have to scroll before you get to the first words of uncertainty about fracking, with a WAMC piece called "GEOLOGISTS LINK FRACKING, AQUIFERS, EARTHQUAKES" and "NY TAKES ACTION AGAINST PA. DRILLER OVER POLLUTION" followed by "DEC: DRILLER POLLUTES STREAM:PENNSYLVANIA RUNOFF TAINTS WATER IN NEW YORK'S ALLEGANY STATE PARK."

Two more frack-friendly heds "DEP: STUDY FINDS NO LINK BETWEEN MINING, COMPLAINTS OF POLLUTED GROUNDWATER IN SOUTHERN W.VA." and "KILLING DRILLING WITH FARCICAL 'SCIENCE'" flank a neutral one :"FEDERAL EPA QUESTIONING NY DEC'S HYDROFRACKING REGULATIONS."

Runnin' Scared placed a call to find out what's the deal. We'll update if we hear back.

Full text:

Recent News on Natural Gas Drilling in the Marcellus Shale

January 27, 2012
FRACK RESPONSIBLY AND RISKS - AND QUAKES - ARE SMALL
New Scientist

The US has led the world in extracting gas from shale but interest is now spreading elsewhere. The British Geological Survey (BGS) recently estimated that the UK has 150 billion cubic metres of shale gas, about half of its more conventional reserves. World shale gas reserves are 450,000 billion cubic metres. Shale gas has been a success story in the US. But fracking has had some bad press, with the main concerns being earthquakes and the contamination of groundwater with gas and chemicals. In the documentary film Gasland, for example, a man is shown igniting water from his kitchen tap.


HYDROFRACKING GETS A BOOST IN PRESIDENT OBAMA'S SPEECH
Democrat and Chronicle

President Barack Obama's decision to support natural gas drilling on federal lands is being hailed by supporters of hydraulic fracturing in New York. Obama's comments in Tuesday's State of the Union speech "should send a message to all the folks back home that even the president has vetted this and we need to move forward together," said Republican Rep. Tom Reed of Corning.In his speech, Obama said America's natural gas reserves could meet the nation's energy needs for 100 years and could provide 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade."The development of natural gas will create jobs and power trucks and factories that are cleaner and cheaper, proving that we don't have to choose between our environment and our economy," Obama said. The Bureau of Land Management estimates 90 percent of natural gas drilling on public lands involves hydraulic fracturing, in which a mixture of chemicals, sand and water is injected into shale formations to open fissures and allow the natural gas to come to the surface. Lawrence Cathles, a geology professor at Cornell University's College of Engineering, hopes the president's comments will prod New York to end its moratorium on new drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale."It's a very big resource and can be developed with minimal environmental risk," he said.


GAS DRILLER TO PAY MILLIONS TO LANDOWNER COALITION
Times Herald Record

Members of a Broome County landowners' coalition are getting a huge payout on their gas leases this month. The Binghamton Press and Sun-Bulletin reports that the landowners are among 600 in the Friendsville Group, which received a $165 million gas lease offer from Talisman Energy in September 2009.Most of the landowners are in Pennsylvania. They received $5,500 per acre when the leases were signed. But with gas drilling on hold in New York since 2008, the New York landowners got $500 per acre. The other $5,000 was due when there were drilling permits, or January 2012. Landowners get 20 percent royalties on producing wells. Christy Everitt, a coalition member with 117 acres in the town of Vestal, estimates 40 percent of the payments will be taken as taxes.


NEW YORK HYDROFRACKING SUPPORTERS HAIL OBAMA'S SPEECH, HOPE FOR END TO MARCELLUS SHALE MORATORIUM
Journal News

President Barack Obama's decision to support natural-gas drilling on federal lands is being hailed by supporters of hydraulic fracturing in New York. Obama's comments in Tuesday's State of the Union speech "should send a message to all the folks back home that even the president has vetted this and we need to move forward together," said Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning.In his speech, Obama said America's natural-gas reserves could meet the nation's energy needs for 100 years and provide 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade.


GEOLOGISTS LINK FRACKING, AQUIFERS, EARTHQUAKES
WAMC

Just prior to Monday's huge anti-fracking rally at the Legislative Office Building in Albany, a smaller, quieter press conference was held where concerns were expressed that fracking, aquifers and earthquakes are connected... Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports. Schoharie Valley Watch and Sustainable Otsego are raising awareness about the environmental effects of fracking. Paul Rubin is a geologist with the environmental consulting firm HydroQuest. Rubin estimates the life of an aquifer to be about 1 million years, while he pegs the estimated life of a gas well between 4 to 20 years that and of an abandoned gas well filled with cement and steel between 80 to 100 years. He adds that even the smallest of cracks could allow natural gas to seep into aquifers and potentially trigger earthquakes.


NY TAKES ACTION AGAINST PA. DRILLER OVER POLLUTION .
Wall Street Journal

Environmental regulators said Tuesday they are seeking $187,500 in fines against a natural gas drilling company for polluting a trout stream in New York's Allegany State Park while drilling in Pennsylvania. The state Department of Environmental Conservation said it has filed an administrative complaint against U.S. Energy Development Corp. alleging that storm water runoff from its roads and well pads in Pennsylvania's Allegheny National Forest washed a large quantity of mud into nearby waterways. It said the mud fouled the water of Yeager Brook in New York's park. The DEC also is requiring the suburban Buffalo-based company to install storm water and erosion controls to prevent any future water quality damage in New York .U.S. Energy spokesman William Albert said the DEC has no jurisdiction over drill sites in Pennsylvania. "The wells are in Pennsylvania and the company's operations are regulated there by the Department of Environmental Protection," Albert said by email. "U.S. Energy is not aware of any issues at the wells in question."


DEC: DRILLER POLLUTES STREAM:PENNSYLVANIA RUNOFF TAINTS WATER IN NEW YORK'S ALLEGANY STATE PARK
Albany Times Union

The state wants to fine a Buffalo-area natural gas drilling company $187,500 for polluting a trout creek in the state's largest park. The alleged problem: runoff from roads surrounding the firm's hydrofracking wells across the border in Pennsylvania.The state Department of Environmental Conservation moved Tuesday to fine U.S. Energy, of suburban Amherst, saying the company had repeatedly fouled Yeager Creek in Allegany State Park since August 2010.The proposed fine includes a $75,000 penalty against the company for allegedly failing to fix surface drainage problems around its gas wells in Allegheny National Forest in McKean County, Pa., despite signing two agreements in 2010 and 2011 with DEC to do so.


DEP: STUDY FINDS NO LINK BETWEEN MINING, COMPLAINTS OF POLLUTED GROUNDWATER IN SOUTHERN W.VA.
The Republic

A yearlong study of groundwater in some southern coalfield communities showed no evidence of widespread pollution related to mining, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection said Tuesday.After its own investigation failed to establish a link, the DEP hired Triad Engineering of Scott Depot to study water supplies in and around the Boone County towns of Seth and Prenter. The goal was to determine whether mining activities, including the underground injection of coal slurry, were to blame for longstanding complaints of discolored, foul-smelling well water and residents' health problems.


FEDERAL EPA QUESTIONING NY DEC'S HYDROFRACKING REGULATIONS
Legislative Gazette

As the Department of Environmental Conservation considers the thousands of public comments it received on "hydrofracking," the federal Environmental Protection Agency is offering its two cents on the matter, suggesting the DEC needs to go further in its effort to regulate the process.In a 26-page report, released Jan. 11, the EPA takes the DEC to task for not adequately addressing the public health risks from radioactive wastewater, a potential byproduct of hydrofracking. This wastewater, which contains elevated levels of radium-226 and radium-228, would be sent to public treatment plants which, opponents of natural gas drilling suggest, would not prove capable of safely handling radioactive waste.


KILLING DRILLING WITH FARCICAL 'SCIENCE'
NY Post

The academic face of the anti-fracking movement -- Cornell marine ecologist Robert Howarth -- increasingly looks like he's willing to turn science into farce.Last spring, the once-obscure professor became the go-to expert for anti-fracking journalists and lawmakers when he published a report claiming shale gas pollutes more than coal. The New York Times featured his study in two uncritical articles in one week, he was interviewed on dozens of talk shows -- and the media echo chamber did the rest: He was a star.Since then, other scientists have almost universally challenged his findings -- but now he's doubled down.

For more information visit: www.nyc.gov/dep

This is the NYC.gov news you requested for:

Natural Gas Drilling Updates

UPDATE: The Department of Environmental Protection just sent an e-mail in response, clarifying the verbiage (kind of): "For about two years, DEP has sent out a weekly compilation of relevant fracking stories, both for and against, for anyone who signs up on our web page, www.nyc.gov/dep. Our position on the issue, which is well known and documented, has not changed in the slightest."


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