While I suspect that the gas drillers would ultimately prefer that no one regulate them, thereby avoiding all regulatory costs, the exemption the Bush administration gave them from the Clean Water Act doesn't end the conversation. New York State is still figuring its regulatory approach out, publishing an Environmental Impact Statement as a first step. There are a lot of implementation details to sort out, but one that pretty much everyone will ask about is "who pays?".
New York's answer for now seems to be that county taxpayers get to cover it, through their health department:
Risks to water, the report says, include turbidity, methane contamination and, to a lesser degree, potential for hazardous chemicals to breach well-bore casings or spill while being handled or disposed of on the surface.
To deal with those threats, the state is calling on local health departments to oversee a testing program of private wells in drilling zones. Testing would begin before drilling starts, and continue for a year after it ends.
I'm guessing that this proposal is an equal mix of local control - counties have health departments monitoring water already - and Albany's reluctance to actually spend money when it can just mandate counties to do it instead. Passing the responsibility buck and the taxation buck without actually providing cash is an unfortunately common approach in New York government finance, one that's only likely to get worse given the deteriorating condition of the state's finances. I kind of doubt they'll be willing to provide funds to towns to cover damage to roads, either.
On the bright side, here's a good idea: printing out copies of the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement and leaving them in public places. Caroline seems to be ahead of Dryden, unless I just haven't seen the 809-page brick yet. If it's not available in Dryden, we definitely should make it available.Posted by simon at October 12, 2009 8:40 PM in energy , health