Fracking: Government Regulations, Legislation, Politics and Information

Meeting of Manhattan Community Board #3 held on Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 6:30 at IS 131, 100 Hester Street., City of New York , IS 131, 100 Hester Street, New York, New York, (2009)


Reading the minutes of this meeting held on April 28, 2009 led me to many of the significant documents used in the production of my Fracking Guide. Since this meeting a year ago, many other city and county legislatures in New York have adopted similar resoultions. (Neil Zusman, 2010-04-29.)

Resolution by The City of New York Manhattan Community Board No. 3.

Item No. 3 of minutes. Page 4 of 9.

3. Resolution regarding drilling in Marcellus Shale and impact on NYS water supply VOTE: WHEREAS, On July 23, 2008 Governor David Patterson signed A10526/S08169 into law, a bill setting certain technical requirements pertaining to well spacing which will facilitate the use of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas recovery in an under ground geological formation known as the Marcellus Shale...

WHEREAS, serious deficiencies in a review of the effects of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water supplies conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have been raised, including the alleged removal of key passages in that document by officials from the Office of Vice President Dick Cheney, as reported on October 14, 2004 by the Los Angeles Times, and the characterization of the report as "scientifically unsound" by an internal EPA whistleblower...

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that Manhattan Community Board #3 unequivocally urges the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to prohibit the use of hydraulic fracturing in the New York State and especially within the City watershed..."

N.Y. Democrat Fires Back at Obama Admin in Fight Over Shale Drilling, Soraghan, Mike , The New York Times | Greenwire, (2010)

A leading congressional critic of shale drilling is scolding the Obama administration for failing to try to slow drilling in the Northeast's Marcellus Shale.

Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.) fired off a letter (pdf) yesterday to the commander of the North Atlantic Division of the Army Corps of Engineers, Brig. Gen. Peter "Duke" DeLuca. DeLuca represents the federal government on the little-known but powerful Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), and he rebuffed Hinchey's request that he use his vote to block gas drilling there until a lengthy study is completed.

See: Keystone XL Pipeline - Issues

Both Hinchey and Johanns have been rebuffed by the President and the State Department.  Might this be telling us about the direction the Administration is taking in regards to its Energy Policy?  nz

See: Obama Admin Rejects Timeout for Natural Gas Drilling in N.Y., Pa.

See: What President Obama should have said about natural gas.

See: In Pa., Rove tells Marcellus shale drillers: Expect 'sensible regulation'

See: Northeast Regulator Lightens Shale Drillers' Load

National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling , National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, (2010)



On May 22, 2010 President Obama established the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling through Executive Order 13543 issued on May 21, 2010.

Presentation of the findings and recommendations in the National Oil Spill Commission’s final report on the causes of BP’s Gulf rig blowout and prevention of future disasters will be held 11am EST, Tues., Jan 11, 2011 at the The National Press Club: 529 14 St., NW, Washington DC.

Viewing: Credentialed press only. Public viewing available via live stream at


See: Mixplex | Schlumberger

See: The Ceres Principles | Mixplex

See: Before the Big Spill | Mixplex

See: BP Deepwater Horizon Committee Hears From Oil Industry Executives | Mixplex

National Parks Traveler | Bush Administration Poised to Sell Oil and Gas Leases Around Dinosaur National Monument, Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, Repanshek, Kurt , National Parks Traveler, (2008)


Kurt Repanshek. November 5, 2008.  National Parks Traveller.

These and other slices of the public lands landscape deserve some form of protection for visitors today and tomorrow to enjoy. And yet, the outgoing Bush administration is determined to open them to drilling rigs with all their associated access roads, noise, air, and, potentially, water pollution.

How much is too much? When the oil and gas industry in Utah has nearly 3,500 drilling permits in hand, but which have not been acted upon, why is the Bush administration selling them more, particularly in sensitive areas around national parks and monuments?

Conservation groups such as the National Parks Conservation Association, The Wilderness Society, and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance warned that the BLM was poised to announce on Election Day that it was ready to sell hundreds of oil and gas drilling leases in the above-cited places as well on lands surrounding Dinosaur National Monument, Arches National Park, and Canyonlands National Park.

But when Election Day arrived, BLM officials merely announced they were opening 360,000 acres to oil and gas work without specifying exactly where those leases would fall.


The twisted geology in and around Dinosaur National Monument in eastern Utah and western Colorado hints of the potential energy resources buried below. NPS photo.

See: Environment News Service (ENS). Bush-Era Oil and Gas Leases Near Utah Parks Canceled. 2/4/2009.

See: Deseret News. Geoff Liesik and Mary Bernard. "Judge says drilling lease lawsuit too late".  Salt Lake City. 9/2/2010.

See:Earthworks: 4/1/2010 "Obama's gifts to extractive industries continue with defense of Bush mining policy".

See: Student Disrupts Government Auction of 150,000 Acres Of Wilderness For Oil & Gas Drilling.

NETL: Secure & Reliable Energy Supplies, NETL(National Energy Technology Laboratory) , U.S. National Energy Policy Key Issues & Mandates, Secure & Reliable Energy Supplies, (2010)


The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL). Website: U.S. National Energy Policy Key Issues & Mandates, Secure & Reliable Energy Supplies.

See: Energy Policy Act of 2005.

"How much of our fossil energy will come from domestic rather than imported sources?

Can we realize the benefits of fossil energy while meeting environmental goals and controlling global climate change?


Can our energy infrastructure reliably deliver energy to the marketplace in the future?

Recent focus on U.S. energy price, availability, and security has resulted in publication of a number of studies and proposals for legislative action. Click here to read more about this issue."

New York City Department of Environmental Protection: Briefing to the NYC Water Board on the Natural Gas Impact Assessment Project, Hazen and Sawyer/Leggette, Brashears and Graham(Joint Venture) , NYC Water Board, p.24 - 24, (2009)


New York City Department of Environmental Protection.  12/23/2009.  Impact Assessment of Natural Gas Production in the New York City Water Supply Watershed.  24 pages.

See: Bruce Stutz. Mar. 25, 2010. "A Contoversial Drilling Practice Hits Roadblock in New York." Yale University. Environment360

New York State Assembly Passes Moratorium on Hydrofracking | Governor Vetoes Bill, Silver, Sheldon , New York State Assembly | Speaker Sheldon Silver, (2010)


Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Robert K. Sweeney announced the passage of legislation (A.11443-B) that would suspend the issuance of new permits for natural gas or oil drilling involving hydraulic fracturing, known as hydrofracking, until May 15, 2011.

"This moratorium will help ensure that the hydrofracking process will only be allowed in New York after a thorough, deliberate and unrushed analysis of the process is complete," said Silver (D-Manhattan). "By preventing the state from issuing new permits to oil and gas companies until further review, we have protected our water supply and served notice to the industry that the health and safety of New Yorkers is our top priority."

Hydraulic fracturing involves pumping water and chemicals under pressure to create fractures in rock containing natural gas or oil. The resulting fractures permit the natural gas or oil to be captured. Concerns have been raised about the potential environmental and health impacts of the chemicals contained in the hydraulic fracturing fluid. Currently, the Environmental Protection Agency is conducting a study to investigate the possible relationships between hydraulic fracturing and drinking water.

"Decisions regarding the safety of our water and air shouldn't be made in haste, but should be the result of careful study and deliberation," said Sweeney. "If the water has been polluted it will be too late. This legislation will remove any 'time pressure' and allow DEC to do its job correctly."

Will Governor Patterson Veto this Bill?


“Even with the tremendous revenues that will come in at this time we’re not going to risk public safety or water quality, which will be the next emerging global problem after the energy shortage,” he told WAMC-FM radio last week. “At this point, I would say that the hydrofracking opponents have raised enough of an argument to thwart us going forward at this time.”


Zeller, Tom. "New York Governor Vetoes Fracking Bill." The New York Times: Greenwire, December 11, 2010.

Gov. David A. Paterson of New York on Saturday vetoed legislation intended to curtail natural gas development using the technique called hydraulic fracturing until a closer review of its effects can be undertaken.

Instead, the governor issued an Executive Order instituting a moratorium that extends until July 1, 2011 — beyond the date specified in the legislation — and that more narrowly defines the types of drilling to be restricted.

“This legislation, which was well intentioned, would have a serious impact on our state if signed into law,” Mr. Paterson said in a prepared statement. “Enacting this legislation would put people out of work – work that is permitted by the Department of Environmental Conservation and causes no demonstrated environmental harm, in order to effectuate a moratorium that is principally symbolic.”

See: Sue Smith-Heavenrich. The Marcellus Effect. December 15, 2010. "No Moratorium And No Horizontal Hydro-Fracking".

Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton explained that an Executive Order, no matter how good, is second best to legislation. A statute, she points out, would not face the risk of being rescinded by Governor Cuomo when he takes office.

“There was also a lot of misinformation from the industry,” Lifton said. Regardless of how safe people insist the current drilling technology is, there are problems with vertical wells. That’s why the moratorium included vertical wells, Lifton said. Indeed, it was vertical Marcellus wells that contaminated the drinking water wells in Dimock, PA.

What does the Executive Order really say? Not much, when you really read it...

See: Sharon Wilson. December 15, 2010. Bluedaze. "The giant loophole NY Gov. Patterson gave industry".

I've kept quiet on the Patterson executive order to hault fracking because something smelled funny about it. Why veto the moratorium then issue an EO? That didn't make sense to me.

The Marcellus Effect blog explains how Patterson is having his cake and eating it.

His giant loophole allows vertical fracking so watch for a big rush on vertical permits. Industry will chop down a bunch of trees and get their vertical pad sites all ready for when the EO expires. Then all they have to do is apply for a change of permit.

There's always a loophole.

See: Energy in Depth. Dec. 2, 2010. "Live From New York…"

See: Sarah Hoye. Dec. 2, 2010. CNN. "New York could be first state to ban controversial drilling practice".

See: Peter Mantius. Dec. 1, 2010. DC Bureau. "New York Assembly Delays Fracking Until May 2011".


See: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Comment on the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (dSGEIS) sent to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) during the public comment period closing 12/31/09.

See: DemocracyNow! Interview with Walter Hang. Watchdog: New York State Regulation of Natural Gas Wells Has Been "Woefully Insufficient for Decades."

New York State Attorney General: Oil & Gas Leases: Landowners’ Rights, New York State Attorney General , (2010)


Office of the Attorney General, New York State. Eric Schneiderman.

Oil and Gas Leases: Land Owner Rights and Land Owner Tips.

Problems with Landmen

Misleading or Misunderstood Statements

1. “Your property will [or won’t] be in the unit.”

2. “This is the standard lease, and it’s not negotiable”.

3. “All your neighbors have signed, and you’re the sole person holding everything up”.

4. “Don’t you want to receive $X every month”?

5. “If you don’t sign, we’ll take the gas from your property without paying you”.

Feeling Under Pressure? Consider the Following:

1. Obtain the full name, address, and telephone number of both the landman and the business they represent.

2. Direct the landman to leave the property and to not return or contact you again.

See: Jon Campbell. Star-Gazette. Nov. 7, 2010. "Attorney General-elect Schneiderman staunchly opposes hydraulic fracturing."

Eric Schneiderman, a Democrat who handily defeated Republican gas-drilling supporter Dan Donovan on Tuesday, has said he will sue to stop the controversial drilling process of hydraulic fracturing -- until it is proven safe -- and aggressively go after drillers who break the rules."

NYCDEP Calls for Prohibition on Drilling in the New York City Watershed, NYC Department of Environmental Protection(NYCDEP) , NYC Environmental Protection, (2009)


NYC Department of Environmental Protection

Communications & Intergovernmental Affairs.  Department of Environmental Protection Calls for Prohibition on Drilling in the New York City Watershed.

Report finds gas drilling poses unacceptable risks to the unfiltered drinking water supply for nine million New Yorkers.  Press Release.  12/23/2009.

NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC): Marcellus Shale, NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation(DEC) , NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation, (2010)


NYSDEC Main Page on Marcellus Shale.

Hydraulic fracturing of the Marcellus Shale will require large volumes of water to fracture the rocks and produce the desired amount of gas. Each well may use more than one million gallons of water.

See: NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC): Bureau of Oil and Gas Regulation

NYSDEC is criticized for not having enough personnel to monitor gas drilling.

There is currently no Section Chief for the Compliance and Enforcement Section of the NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) Bureau of Oil and Gas Regulation. Jack K. Dahl, Director. (518) 402-8056.

See: NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC): Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (dSGEIS) on the Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Regulatory Program

The draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) for potential natural gas drilling activities in the Marcellus Shale formation was available for public review and comment through 12/31/09.

The draft SGEIS supplements the existing Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) and analyzes the range of potential impacts of shale gas development using horizontal drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing.

The draft SGEIS outlines safety measures, protection standards and mitigation strategies that operators would have to follow to obtain permits.

Comments - The public comment period ended on 12/31/09 and the Department is now evaluating the many comments received. Watch this page for updates.

State of New York, Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC). 2009. Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS). (804 pages, PDF, 22.77 MB)

What is wrong with New York in regards to gas drilling?

See: The U.S. Forest Service page below.

In New York, the Finger Lakes National Forest - Projects & Planning page contained no information on Oil and Gas Leasing.

USDA Forest Service

U.S. Forest Service web page regarding Oil and Gas Leasing on Lands Administered by the Dixie National Forest, Utah.