DEC Issues Proposed Regulations Concerning High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing
On September 28, 2011, DEC issued proposed regulations that would limit high-volume hydraulic fracturing during natural gas drilling operations, including a ban on fracking in the New York City watershed and in the vicinity of key water resources.
The proposed regulations would prohibit fracking within 500 feet of the state's 18 primary aquifers and within 4,000 feet of an unfiltered surface water supply watershed and would require disclosure of chemicals used during fracking. According to DEC, the proposed regulations are subject to four public hearings and a public comment period that was open until Dec. 12, 2011. According to DEC, the proposed regulations will create a legal framework for implementing the proposed mitigation measures contained in the draft Environmental Impact Statement. The proposed regulations contain several parts, including amendments to the State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (SPDES).
Under the proposed regulations, natural gas companies would be required to disclose the chemical additives used in fracking, which is the process of injecting water, sand, and chemical additives into rock layers to allow gas to flow into a well. The proposed rules also would require that all flow-back water and production brine be treated, recycled, or properly disposed. In addition, natural gas companies would be required to develop comprehensive stormwater pollution prevention plans and plans for the use and testing of blowout preventers. In addition, the proposed regulations contain detailed requirements for well construction, site preparation, and the operation and maintenance of fracking wells.