October 29, 2009

Gas drilling news from further south

I've been annoyed that the Ithaca Journal web site seems to have descended into a chaotic and sometimes repetitive mix of news from the Ithaca, Elmira, and Binghamton papers. Every once in a while, though, it's helpful for finding news about issues that affect the region broadly. Since gas well drilling is much busier to our south, seeing that news makes it easier to know what we might want to be coming here.

There's an article on two operators in Pennsylvania who've been cited for "technical deficiencies... inaccurate calculations and lack of proper technical detail" on "three erosion and sedimentation control general permits". Around here we've been referring to that as stormwater management. The Town of Dryden has been pushing hard on stormwater, as the state's requested but not always funded. However, New York's Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement talks a lot about stormwater but seems to declare (in Table 8.1, page 539) that the regulator for that will be the state's Department of Wetlands and Department of Mineral Resources. That might be a good idea for towns that haven't been working on this, but it doesn't feel right to me for Dryden. (It's also possible I'm misreading the intent - I would be happy about that.)

It does mean that the state would be paying for that aspect of regulation, though, which brings me to the other article. A Chemung County legislator is asking why the county should absorb the burden of well-monitoring:

"Where will the funding come from to adequately implement a program locally to review and monitor water data at private wells within 1,000 to 2,000 feet of a drilling rig before, during and up to a year after drilling has begun?" he said in a news release. "It is certain that more county health department staff will be needed to engage in this process and ready this important public health service in Chemung."

I've heard the same concern in Tompkins County as well. It seems like another step toward making the counties a branch of state government, providing services to Albany without getting the responsibility and choice of actually being in control of their territory. It's not a new trend, but seems to be yet another unfortunate side effect of the push to drill.

Posted by simon at October 29, 2009 12:03 PM in
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