Hinchey wants water quality protected from gas drilling

By Jay Braman Jr.
U.S. Representative Mau-rice Hinchey has told the state Department of Environmental Conser-vation (DEC) that he has numerous concerns about drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale formation in the Catskill Mountains and has issued comments outlining 11 steps that he believes must be taken before any drilling is allowed.
Hinchey’s comments follow news that the New York City Department of Environmental Protection opposes any drilling for natural gas in the part of the shale formation that sits within the city’s upstate watershed.
The proposed 11 steps Hinchey believes should be undertaken before any drilling is allowed include:
• A cumulative impact analysis of natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale formation to understand the full impact of drilling.
• Prohibiting the use of toxic chemicals in all fracturing fluids.
• Requiring public disclosure of chemicals used.
• A thorough review of incidents in other states in which gas drilling is alleged to have caused explosions and well contamination.
• Mandating that all baseline well water tests and complaints be handled by the DEC.
• Developing a comprehensive wastewater plan for high-volume gas drilling in New York State.
• Requiring the on-site processing and reuse of fracturing fluids.
• Extending supplementary reviews with public input.
• Increasing the resources and staffing devoted to the permitting and oversight of hydrofracking.
• Adopting a phased development approach to hydrofracking and limiting initial gas drilling permits to areas without significant environmental issues.
• Extending the public comment period for another 90 days.
In a prepared statement Hinchey acknowledged the economic benefits of natural gas drilling, but said the DEC must take steps to ensure that the drilling process does not contaminate drinking water supplies or jeopardize public health.
“There are an awful lot of other things that need to be done to protect the people of this state and to protect it in the context of one of the most significant elements of life, and that is the assurance of pure, clean water for drinking and all the other things we use water for,” Hinchey said.