Budget Proposals Increase For Water Infrastructure

March 2010 Vol. 65 No. 3

The production of Marcellus gas in New York State is already a red-hot political issue. There are only 15 shale gas wells in New York State, all of them vertical, according to Yancey Roy, spokesman for the NY Department of Environmental Conservation. That is what makes New York's draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (dSGEIS) for horizontal shale gas fracturing so important. It was published Sept. 30, and the comment period closed at the end of December. Roy says the department is going through the 13,000 comments it received, some of them "ganged" signatures on single pieces of correspondence. Once the document becomes final, natural gas companies will be able to drill horizontally in the Marcellus area of New York for the first time. The dSGEIS proposes first-time permitting conditions for horizontal hydraulic fracturing, including disclosure of liquids used.

New York City has already weighed in against drilling in sections of Marcellus containing drinking water sources for the city. Steven Lawitts, the city's top environmental official, said hydraulic fracturing represented “unacceptable threats to the unfiltered fresh water supply of 9 million New Yorkers.” Roy explains that New York City water sources account for a small portion of the Marcellus area.

Chesapeake Energy, a major producer in New York but not yet in the shale game there, complained that the dSGEIS's proposed regulatory requirements and mitigation measures "are both costly and, in some cases, unnecessarily onerous . . . and have left New York with relatively few producers willing to devote scarce capital to New York. "However, the comments went on to say "Chesapeake is prepared to meet the extraordinarily high bar proposed in the dSGEIS."

Natural gas sectors nervous about EPA GHG tailoring rule
Based on comments it recently submitted, the pipeline industry is concerned that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will put tight constraints on methane gas emissions from compressor stations. Last fall, the EPA started the process by publishing a proposed "tailoring" rule that would require all facilities emitting more than 25,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalent annually to use "best available control technology" to reduce those emissions. About 874 of the nation’s 1,944 natural gas transmission compressor stations emitted 25,000 or more metric tons per year of GHGs -- most of it methane -- according to government statistics cited by INGAA. But INGAA thinks the numbers are actually much higher.