December 14, 2011

"important to recognize that DEC is not a land use agency"

I would love to see a DEC official state something like this, in reference to potential conflicts between state and local regulation of various kinds of mining.

It is important to recognize that DEC is not a land use agency, and that the authority remains at the local government level. It has always been our position that localities need to determine appropriate land uses and that DEC, even if we believe that a site may not be zoned properly, will not interfere in those decisions. We do not want conflicts with the localities. We want and need local governments to plan for mineral resources as natural resources just like they would do for any other land use, consistent with [state law].

Another area where there may be misconceptions relates to DEC's processing of mining applications... The law requires a statement by the applicant inquiring on the application about whether mining is prohibited at that location by a local government's zoning law. If the applicant affirms that mining is prohibited, the application is deemed "incomplete" and DEC would stop processing it unless and until the prohibition is lifted.

Oh, wait. That actually was a DEC official, the Director of the Division of Mineral Resources, speaking in 1998.

Not only that, it was Gregory Sovas, the same guy who now claims in an affidavit for Anschutz in their lawsuit against Dryden that he can't imagine how the DEC would allow such sharing of authority.

Now how does Sovas avoid a perjury charge when there's such a contrast between that and the claims in the Anschutz filing? Well, the quote above is about the Mined Land Reclamation Law (MLRL), a different part of the environmental conservation law. The precedents around the MLRL, especially Frew Run, are at the heart of the approach Dryden took to making it clear that gas drilling is banned here, and of its legal defense.

I think these broad statements demolish Sovas' credibility, but it's not likely to create legal action against him.

There's more on this here, if you'd prefer a video. (And yes, I learned about this through DRAC.)

Update: And here's more straight talk from a from a person who's worked in different corner of the DEC:

Hydraulic fracturing as it's practiced today will contaminate our aquifers.

Not might contaminate our aquifers. Hydraulic fracturing will contaminate New York's aquifers. If you were looking for a way to poison the drinking water supply, here in the Northeast you couldn't find a more chillingly effective and thorough method of doing so than with hydraulic fracturing.

My experience investigating and remediating contaminated groundwater taught me some lessons. There's no such thing as a perfect well seal. Occasionally sooner, often later, well seals can and do fail, period.

Posted by simon at December 14, 2011 11:20 AM in ,
Note on photos