Starkey Citizens for a Clean & Healthy Environment
Pure Waters Issues Warning About Hydrofracking Regs

GENEVA — Local governments are being warned that any revised state regulations involving hydrofracking will not consider their interests.

In a message to Friends of Seneca Lake, Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association’s Mary Anne Kowalski sounded the warning after members of SLPWA’s Marcellus Shale Committee expressed concern that the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) dismissed the significant impacts hydraulic fracturing for natural gas would have on local governments and rural areas.

“We feel we have a responsibility to warn the local governments,” Kowalski wrote. “There are potential serious and costly impacts, especially to rural areas, that are not addressed or mitigated in the recently published revised proposed state regulations. It is clear from the recent regulations that the state will do nothing to mitigate the costs that will be incurred in the public and private sectors in the watershed.”

Kowalski noted many local governments have decided to wait to see what the state will do before taking action.

SLPWA said revisions to the proposed state regulations do not address the following problems:

• Damage to infrastructure, agriculture and tourism from increased truck traffic and noise.

• Increased crime and social pressures.

• How local governments, school districts, emergency services and hospitals that serve the region will pay for the expected rise in demand for services.

• Costs to county health departments in responding to complaints about contaminated drinking water.

• Bonding for road damage, taxes or impact fees to support local governments and emergency responders.

• No local approval as a condition for a drilling permit.

“The only thing that the DEC requires in the proposed regulations is that drilling applicants file a transportation plan so the counties and towns will know what roads will be used and potentially damaged by the heavy truck traffic,” Kowalski wrote.

SLPWA made the following suggestions to local counties, towns and villages:

• MORATORIUM: Adopt a temporary moratorium on hydrofracking activities immediately, allowing time to discuss and consider long-term options, including a permanent ban.

• ROADS: Amend laws to protect roads at risk of damage from significant, heavy truck traffic.

• ZONING: Draft a comprehensive zoning plan, its details consistent with state law, on the kinds of industrial activities and areas where such activities are permissible or not permissible.

• AQUIFERS: Pursuant to state law, designate local aquifers and other sensitive areas as critical environmental areas.

Kowalski said all of those steps should be taken before the state makes a decision on whether to allow hydrofracking.

“Time is being lost now through inaction,” Kowalski cautioned. “It is time for the municipalities in the Finger Lakes to learn what these issues are from the experiences in other states and act.”

She added that a long-term partnership of municipalities in the Seneca Lake Watershed would serve in everyone’s best interests.

David Shaw
March 11, 2013
Finger Lakes Times

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