Experts concerned about New York State's draft plan for natural gas drilling

My colleague Kate Sinding recently blogged about the State of New York's draft environmental impact statement regarding proposed new natural gas drilling there. We believe this analysis is fatally flawed and needs to go back to the drawing board. NRDC's key conclusions are that New York State did not sufficiently look at the cumulative impacts of the proposed drilling or consider more environmentally friendly alternatives, and did not set out legally binding regulations to protect the environment, among other failings in this process.

But it's not just NRDC saying that. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wrote: ".....we have concerns regarding potential impacts to human health and the environment that we believe warrant further scientific and regulatory analysis."

Professional and scientific staff of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation wrote a letter that lists over a dozen concerns about the NYS proposal, including the lack of a full assessment of cumulative environmental impacts, the need for adequate staffing of oversight and regulatory agencies, and the absence of a process to place some areas off limits.

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection stated that natural gas exploration and drilling "....pose unacceptable risks for more than nine million New Yorkers in the City and State"  and  that the NYS plan "...does not meet the requirements of the New York State Environmental Conservation Law."

The comments submitted by NRDC and other interested parties contain hundreds of pages of technical analysis by experts in the field. NRDC believes that some areas should be completely off-limits to drilling and, where drilling does occur, it needs to be held to the highest environmental standards. New York State should be a leader in protecting human health and the environment from the threats of oil and gas production. Unfortunately, the State has fallen very short of this mark.