Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Timeline of Fracking Regulations in NY

Link to this:
Wow! I was doing some research on the early days of the SGEIS, and stumbled upon this very complete history of fracking in NY, by Chip Northrup

Not sure who did the original research, but a lot of this information is also here:
WSKG just also put up a timeline:

There is unique information in all these. I have tried to consolidate them, and also added a couple of key dates important to my research of the evolution of the SGEIS, and made a couple of small corrections.

1972 -- First NY O+G regulations

1975 - New York adopts SAPA (State Administrative Procedudes Act)  to make sure agency decisions (under the Executive) are fair.  Interesting history! These laws are usually passed by legislators as check on executive powers, and as the result of corruption/bribes on the part of Republican administrators. see:
See also: 
1976 - (March 22) SEQR adopted -- requires EIS for certain state "actions"

1975-1978 -- the NY State Legislature passes a law to create the New York’s State Environmental Quality Review Act that gives the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) the authority to approve or deny development projects based on the environmental, economic and public health impacts. Implementation of the law is phased in between 1977 and 1978.

1982 - SEQR Handbook first published

1987 - SEQR amendments

1988 - Draft GEIS on the Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Regulatory Program

1992 -- The DEC finalizes a “Generic Environmental Impact Statement” (GEIS) in order to expedite approval of all oil and gas drilling permits which would allow for the oil and gas industry to circumvent the need for a rigorous environmental review of each drilling permit application. Basically, this allowed for DEC to use with a one-size-fits-few generic approach to every oil and gas permit in NY.

1996 - SEQR amendments

1997 - Revised Oil + Gas regulations drafted, but kept secret

1997 --  After the finalization of the 1992 GEIS, the DEC was obligated to revise its oil and gas drilling regulations – in line with the updated GEIS. Over a period of 5 years, DEC held meetings, took input, and drafted revised regulations in 1997.

The DEC did not share those revised regulations with the public or legislators when it issued a supplemental GEIS, the SGEIS. And in fact declared that it had “lost” the 1997 drafts – because the 1997 drafts offered substantially more protections for the general public, adjacent landowners and the environment than the regulations the  DEC issued on November 29, 2012

2000 --- The DEC’s Division of Mineral Resources substantially guts the proposed 1997 regulatory proposals, eliminating safeguards for the environment, general public and adjacent landowner.  Yet, even these reduced proposed regulations are not shown to the public.

2002 -- Range Resources' land men start signing up people for gas leases in Southwest PA (source: Ron Gulla)

2002-2004 original Millennium Pipeline Project gets FERC approval, but fails to get other required permits. The New York Department of State denied Millennium a required coastal zone consistency concurrence in May 2002, which was upheld by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce in a December 2003 decision.  In addition, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers rejected Millennium’s requests for Clean Water Act permits in a January 2004 ruling.

2005 -- The second horizontal well was drilling in the Marcellus formation, Gulla #1, in Hickory, Washington County, PA

2005 -- The oil and gas lobby persuades the DEC to substantially amend the state’s Compulsory Integration law, effectively privatizing eminent domain for oil and gas speculators.

2005 -- VP Dick Cheney,  former CEO of Halliburton is mastermind of the "Halliburton Loophole" which exempts the oil+gas industry from several 1970s era environmental laws.

2006-2007 Millennium Pipeline Project resubmits and gains approval and builds a 182 mi 30" pipeline from Corning to Ramapo, NY.  

2007 -- Widespread drilling begins in Southwest PA

2008 -- Range resources controls more than 900,000 acres in the region. The Marcellus gas rush begins.

Feb 2008:
Also during that same month:
  • The Sheriff of Wall St., Eliot Spitzer, now the Governor of the Empire State
    checks into swank DC hotel as "George Fox" and as a client of the Empire Club VIP,
    pays $4,300 cash for two female entertainers.
  • Resigns 1 month later.
March 2008   David Paterson is sworn in as NYS Governor.

David Paterson 2 by David Shankbone.jpg

Jan 1, 2009
Dimock Explodes

Norma Fiorentina's water well in Dimock, PA explodes after methane accumulated in the well.

Later that year, 15 Dimock families file a lawsuit against nearby driller Cabot Oil and Gas for contamination of water wells. Cabot denies that their wells are the source of the methane, but provide water to the affected homes until late 2011, before the Environmental Protection Agency took over at some homes.

Feb 2009 -- Final Scope of new SGEIS

Sept 30, 2009 -- dSGEIS released. New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) releases the first draft SGEIS.

2008-2009 -- In discussions on the Generic Environmental Impact Statement on the Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Regulatory Program (GEIS) as the State began considering permits for horizontally hydrofracked wells, citizens and environmental advocacy groups produced evidence of the risks of horizontal hydraulic fracturing, and DEC agreed that a Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement on the Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Regulatory Program (SGEIS) for horizontal drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing was warranted. The DEC’s Division of Mineral Resources is given lead agency status on the SGEIS. The DEC’s Division of Mineral Resources is known to work hand in hand with the oil and gas industry in NY, which includes a revolving door to the industry for former heads of the DMN, such as Greg Sovas:

From 2008 through 2009 -- public scoping and public hearings were held on the SGEIS. At no time were the DEC’s previous draft regulations from the 1992 GEIS shown to the public.

With each iteration of the SGEIS – there are increasing protections for large voting blocks, such as the New York City reservoir watershed via political carve outs, but few protections for rural Upstate

December 2009 NYC Calls for Ban in their upstate Watershed.

Dec 31. 2009 -- The public submits 13,000 comments on the dSGEIS. 

Jan 19, 2010 -- Governor Patterson proposes a state production tax on oil and gas produced in the state, a “severance tax,” to offset the cost of regulating the industry and defray the costs to to state for road repair, etc. estimated by the Department of Transportation to be hundreds of millions of dollars.  New York is one of the only states without a state production tax.

The plan is immediately challenged by state senators with talking points from the gas lobby, and is dropped.
Leaving New York state a tax haven for frackers, off-loading the cost of road damage, enforcement, and environmental clean ups on the general public.

January 24, 2010  Gasland premieres at Sundance
July 2010 -- The New York State Senate passed a moratorium on high-volume hydraulic fracturing bill with an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 49 to 9. They pass the bill weeks before the SGEIS is supposed to be finalized and DEC permits issued.

March 18, 2010 EPA Launches National Study

The Environmental Protection Agency launches a national study into the hazards of hydrofracking, following up on a 2004 study that found the drilling technique did not pose a threat to drinking water. The new study is expected to be completed in 2014.
October 21, 2010 -- DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis fired by Governor Patterson’s Chief of Staff Larry Schwartz. He was fired after a memo from Grannis was leaked to the press earlier in the week where Grannis complained to the Budget Division about the 209 layoffs of DEC employees cutting the agency’s staff by 22% since April 2008.

December 2010 -- The New York State Assembly passes the fracking moratorium bill with bipartisan vote of 93 to 43.

December 13 2010 -- Governor David Paterson vetoes the fracking moratorium bill but passes an Executive Order 41 for a one year moratorium on horizontal but not vertical fracking and opens the SGEIS for another round of public comments.

January 1, 2011 --  Andrew Cuomo becomes Governor of New York State and signs the continuation of Executive Order 41, which enacts the Governor Paterson’s Executive Order into the Cuomo Administration.

February 2011 -- Hundreds of concerned doctors, scientists and environmental groups sent a letter to NYS Department of Health Commissioner Dr Nirav Shah informing him of the potential health impacts. It also requested that the DOH become a co-lead agency with DEC on the SGEIS process since it was becoming evident from new studies in Pennsylvania, Colorado and reports elsewhere that public health was threatened.

Additionally, the signatories requested that the SGEIS be withdrawn and the process begun again with the inclusion of a Health Impact Assessment. They request a meeting with Commissioner Shah that was never granted.

Feb 2011 A New York court upholds the Town of Dryden's right to ban gas drilling within its borders. Another local court later upheld the Town of Middlefield's ban against another lawsuit. The bans and moratoria spread to towns and villages across the state, and eventually more than 100 pass their own.

April 2011 Cornell Study: Hydrofracking More Damaging Than Coal
Cornell professors publish a study in the journal "Climactic Change" estimating a level of methane released from natural gas operations that would make hydrofracking more damaging to the climate than coal.

May 2011:  Cuomo expands scope of DEC review after PA accident:

May 28 2011: SGEIS to be done July 1
July 1, 2011 -- The state Department of Environmental Conservation formed the 12-member High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing Advisory Panel of a mix of environmental leaders, businesses and Binghamton-area lawmakers including NYS Senator Tom Libous and Assemblymember Donna Lupardo. The panel was charged with developing recommendations for DEC oversight of developing fracking regulations

Martens reverses, now recommends a ban in NYC and SYR watersheds, and also in all Primary Aquifers statewide.  Martens said that “upwards of 80 percent” of New York’s natural gas-rich Marcellus Shale area would be available for fracking under the recommendations he described at the press conference.

Cuomo seeks to lift moratorium on fracking:

July 1, 2011 Cuomo announces Fracking Advisory Panel
(Robert Hallman, Board Chair, NY League of Conservation Voters resigned March 2013)

July 7 2011 47 Groups call for a ban on fracking.

 July 8 2011 -- prdSGEIS released

July 2011 Siena: NY split on fracking.
Fifty-four percent of polled New York state residents told Siena they're more inclined to trust the opponents of fracking, while only a third said they trust fracking supporters.

Aug 1: Cuomo plan for frack waste to Niagara

Aug 2011: major flood hits the southern tier w/Hurricane Irene

Aug 23 2011 Greg Ball's "over my dead body" speech:

Sept 8 2011 -- rdSGEIS + regs + SPDES + econ study released, comment period opened

  • Sept 25 2011 Cuomo online chat: "Many questions about fracking".
    “Let me say this,” Cuomo said. “My point all along is to make the decision on hydrofracking based on the facts and on the science. This is not an issue to be decided by politics or emotion. DEC’s process is fair, intelligent and open and I am letting the process proceed.” “We have made much progress here in just the last nine months,” Cuomo said, apparently in answer to a question that wasn’t posted. “New York is ‘open for business’ in more ways than one.”

  • Sept 25 2011: "A second bill Cuomo approved gives the state parks department broad new powers over any effort to explore or drill within Allegany State Park, and that any such oil or gas extraction "be undertaken with the strictest possible oversight."

  • Sept 26 2011: HF review panel in disagreement. Expect report by Nov.

  • Sept 27 2011: Siena poll reports: “Right now, 44 percent of voters say they favor DEC’s recommendation to allow hydrofracking, while 40 percent are opposed,” Greenberg said. “This is virtually unchanged from July when it was 45-43 percent.

Jan 2012 -- whoops-- No fracking in the budget!

Jan 11, 2012 -- 67,000 comments received on the SGEIS

Jan 11, 2012 -- The January 12th meeting of the state's High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing Advisory Panel was abruptly canceled and postponed to January 26. Then the January 26th meeting was canceled and the panel never reconvened. In June, reporter Jon Campbell broke the story that the the NYS Conference of Environmental Health Directors and the NYS Association of County Health Officials (NYSACHO) were scheduled to present two separate reports at the January 12th meeting on concerns about how fracking could burden County Health agencies. Their reports were never distributed to the DEC's advisory board, nor were they formally released to the public. Furthermore, the DEC had said the Jan. 12 meeting was postponed because the "main presenter requested additional time to prepare." Yet Linda Wagner, executive director of the Association of County Health Officials, said in an e-mail to Campbell that the group asked to postpone "due to weather concerns for those traveling."

May 9, 2012 --  According to Governor Cuomo’s publicly released public schedule he met with representatives from the gas industry for an hour at 4:30pm including Brad Gill, Executive Director, IOGA, Karen Moreau, Executive Director, New York State Petroleum Council and Jim Carr, Governmental Analyst, Hinman Straub, P.C.
Meanwhile, the Governor refuses to meet with scientists such as Dr. Ingraffea of Cornell, environmentalist such as Sandra Steingraber, journalists such as Josh Fox or activists, such as Yoko Ono.

May 2012 -- Controversy around University of Buffalo's Shale Resources and Society Institute starts when it released its first report that concluded that state regulators in Pennsylvania have improved oversight of the fracking industry and New York's regulations will preventu00a0 environmental impacts. The university at first said the study was peer-reviewed, but later withdrew that statement.

May 2012-June 2012: JLCNY resolutions pass in ~20 Southern Tier towns.
Glenn Winsor, who is on the board of directors for the Colesville-Windsor Joint Landowners Coalition and is in favor of fracking,
introduced the bill. Winsor said the resolution needs to be in the Governor's Office by the end of the month

June 13, 2012 -- New York Times story floats Cuomo Administration plan to frack in 5 counties in the Southern Tier region of New York. Followed by widespread public opposition in the Southern Tier and across the state that Cuomo Administration would consider creating a “sacrifice zone” while protecting New York City’s water supply, effectively gerrymandering the state environmentally.

NYT Leak: Cuomo plan for 5-county Demonstration Project
/ Sacrifice Zone. Newspaper spins it  Cuomo Plan to"Restrict Drilling|Limit to 5 counties"
and to permit it only in communities that express support for the technology.

Official administration response:
“No final decision has been made, and no decision will be made until the scientific review is
complete and we have all the facts,” Josh Vlasto, a Cuomo spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement.

“We recognize that gas is going to be part of our energy mix and it’s preferable to other types of fuels that are out there,”  said Rob Moore, executive director of Environmental Advocates of New York. “So it’s not really an option to say ‘no way’ to natural gas. But we’re not in a rush to see this resource extracted in New York.”  <-- br="" cuomo="" hydrofracking="" on="" panel...="" review="" s="" sits="">
June 22 2012  A decision on hydrofracking is imminent.

June 27, 2012 -- Documents uncovered through FOIL requests reveal collusion between gas lobbyists and DEC staff on the SGEIS and fracking regulations.

With predictable results, the gas lobbyists draft key sections of the regulations, as the DEC staff take dictation:

June 29, 2012 -- An article in the Albany weekly paper Metroland, outs the Director of DEC’s Division of Mineral Resources (DMN)  as a climate denier who publicly signed the Global Warming Petition ( This creates public outrage and concerns that some of the most critical information submitted to DEC regarding how fracking is a contributor to climate change will e disregarded and ignored.

Thus, effectively putting a climate change denier in charge of promoting fracking in New York:

July 6 2012 -- Gannett News reporter Jon Campbell revealed that a pair of county health department reports written for the state's Hydrofracking Advisory Panel were kept secret from the panel. One report was written by the state Association of County Health Officials and the other from the NYS Conference of Environmental Health Directors. The state issued conflicting reasons why they were never given to the advisory panel, but the fact remains that the reports - which raise serious concerns about fracking - were kept from the advisory panel members.

One report was written by the state Association of County Health Officials and the other from the NYS Conference of Environmental Health Directors. The state issued conflicting reasons why they were never given to the Advisory Panel, but the fact remains that the reports – which raise serious concerns about fracking – were kept from the advisory panel members.

The Governor’s Fracking Advisory Panel meets once and is disbanded after protests by the gas lobby.

July 18 2012 -- The New York State Senate Democratic Conference hold a forum that further investigated the full extent of the DEC and industry collusion.

Aug 4 2012 End of the anti-frack world near (Lebrun editorial)

Top state officials are in the process of briefing selected environmental groups on a plan to be publicly released in a couple of weeks

August 30, 2012 -- Division of Mineral Resources Director Bradley J. Field claims he ‘does not recall” signing the petition that disavowed climate change and denies the fact that high-volume fracking has already taken place in NYS despite hard evidence to the contrary.

Sept 2012: DEC instructs DOH to review DEC's SGEIS' review of health impacts.

September 26, 2012 -- President of Toxics Targeting Walter Hang releases information that documents decades of enforcement problems with the DEC’s Mineral Resources Division including over 5,000 uncapped existing oil and gas wells across NY.!

October 4, 2012 -- New York’s medical and scientific community writes to Governor Cuomo outlining why the state’s health review is inadequate and objecting to the exclusion of New York’s medical and scientific community from the process and review. Public health is never best served by secrecy, yet there has been absolutely no public component to the state’s health review.

Oct 2012 Scientific American report: Is Fracking behind Contamination in Wyoming Groundwater

Nov 2012 DOH selects 3 experts to review SGEIS health impacts assessment.

November 29, 2012 -- The DEC sends out its final draft of the drilling regulations. They allow for 30 days of public comment over the holiday season, without scheduling a public hearing in violation of the State Administrative Procedures Act (SAPA).  The regulations offer few protections for land uses, water sources, the general public, the environment or landowners.

December 5, 2012 -- NYS Assemblymember and DEC Hydro-fracking Panel member Donna Lupardo sends a letter to DEC Commissioner Joe Martens asking a series of unanswered questions about the health review and requests that the panel, which has not met in over a year, reconvene to discuss the health review. She has not received a response to the letter.

Dec 9 2011: EPA links chemicals used for fracking fluid to water contamination in Wyoming for the first time.
Jan 2 2013 Martens Letter to JLCNY "Decision Soon"

January 10, 2013 -- Three Assembly Chairs, Robert Sweeney, Richard Gottfried, and Charles Lavine wrote to DEC Commissioner Joe Martens and DOH Commissioner Nirav Shah objecting to the state’s revised fracking regulations, the comment period, and the lack of transparency. They wrote, jointly, that they were “concerned that this evaluation reflects the thinking of people who are helping shape the administration’s decision on fracking. The evaluation suggests that conclusions have been drawn before research is conducted.”

The Assembly chairs and other members of the Assembly held an official hearing on the fracking regulations on January 10, 2013, where both the DEC and DOH refused to testify.

January 11, 2013 -- The DEC receives over 204,000 comments on the proposed drilling regulations, almost entirely opposed to Cuomo’s proposals. (NOTE: this only represents those collected by Enviros, not through the DEC website and by snail-mail)
January 11, 2013 --  The Community Environmental Defense Council send the DEC a letter demanding that DEC withdraw and terminate the regulations based on how DEC committed numerous procedural violations under the State Administrative Procedures Act (SAPA) including the DEC did not hold a mandatory public hearing on the regulations.

Jan 30 2013: Nirav Shah: "our review will be done in a couple of weeks"

February 6, 2013 -- Bloomberg News reports that the expert – Robert Jacobi – the Department of Environmental Conservation hired to conduct the state’s seismology study has tied to the oil and gas industry. Additionally, Jacobi served as the director of a discredited University of Buffalo Shale Resources and Society Institute, which produced a report that was widely discredited and thrown out by the university because of concerns about academic integrity and suspicions that its results were influenced by the oil and gas industry. Bloomberg News story: 

February 8, 2013 -- NYS Senators Avella, Krueger, Tkacyzk, and Gipson sent a joint letter to Governor Cuomo and Commissioner Martens objecting to Jacobi’s position, calling for the seismology study to be immediately released to the public, and for the state not to make a decision about fracking until many questions and issues they raised are thoroughly addressed. The senators’ letter is here:

February 8, 2013 -- Department of Environmental Commissioner Martens and Department of Health Commissioner Shah each mislead the legislature about  the status of the state’s contracted outside health reviewers. Additionally, the state has grossly mischaracterized the nature and scope of the that review. See more here:

February 11, 2013 -- NY Fracking Scandal is launched. Participating organizations call on Albany County District Attorney to investigate conflicts of interest that top aide to Governor Cuomo Larry Schwartz.

Lawyers put the DEC on notice that they will be sued for failing to disclose the basis of their proposed regulations, as required by state law.

Feb 12 2013: Nirav Shah to Martens, w/approaching SAPA deadline on the regs.
"I need more time". Let's review the EPA, Geisenger, and UPenn studies.

DEC Requests Additional Time; Public Comment will be Reopened. New York State Department of Health Commissioner Nirav Shah requests more time to complete the health review. Final regulations will be reopened for public comment; decision on hydrofracking in New York delayed again.

One man alone in the Cuomo Administration would not be cowed, bought off, intimidated, railroaded or co-opted by the gas lobbyists and their bag men in the legislature. That man was Dr. Nirav Shah.

March 6, 2013 NY Assembly Passes 2-Year Moratorium

By a 95-40 vote, the Democratic-controlled assembly passed a moratorium that would ban fracking in New York until May, 2015. A similar bill is waiting in the Republican-controlled Senate, where it is considered much less likely to pass.

 Mar 11 2013: Nirav Shah: Well, we're not going to wait until those studies are actually *complete*.  "Our review will be done in a couple of weeks"

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