NEW YORK’S SKETCHY REGS FOR LNG
New York has had a de facto moratorium on the construction of liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities since a catastrophic explosion killed forty-three workers at a storage site in 1973. But now the NYS DEC has issued draft regulations that will apparently permit everything from truck fueling stations to export terminals shipping fracked gas to Europe and Asia.
These draft regs are breathtakingly vague, and fail to address many important health and safety concerns. For example, they fail to set limits on harmful atmospheric emissions, and fail to prescribe setbacks from residential facilities. Siting and other safety issues have been outsourced to a trade association that only makes its proprietary safety codes available to the public in read-only files that can be difficult to access.
In addition, the DEC plan leaves the taxpayer, not the industry, on the hook when things go wrong. Facility owners aren’t required to post bonds, or demonstrate that they have the financial resources to cover the cost of accidents — even the largest LNG facility can be licensed for a paltry $500 a year. (Read a detailed analysis of the many defects with New York’s proposed LNG regulations here.)
THOUSANDS OF ABANDONED WELLS ENDANGER THE PUBLIC
Blogger Tom Wilber recently reported that state regulators estimate there are 57,000 abandoned oil and gas wells in New York State including nearly five thousand unplugged wells that pose health and safety hazards. Some of these dangerous wells appear to be owned by drillers who continue to do business in the state, but there is little evidence that the DEC is aggressively pursuing companies that endanger the public. In 2010, well operators plugged just 178 wells, while the EPA plugged another forty-two. At this rate, it will take more than 20 years to cap all of New York’s dangerous, unplugged wells.
(A DEC spokesperson refused to answer questions about New York’s so-called “orphan” wells. He told us to seek information using New York’s Freedom of Information Law, which requires government officials to release information to the public.
AMERICANS SAY “NO” TO FRACKING
Several recent polls indicate that the American people have decisively turned against fracking. A recent national Pew Research Poll showed that opposition increased by 11 percent between March and September, and now stands at 49 percent. Only forty-four percent support more fracking. Pew reports that opposition is highest in the West (55%) and the Northeast (51%).
A Siena Poll found that 45 percent of New York State residents oppose fracking, while only 37 percent want to see it permitted in the state. Opposition is strongest upstate (52 to 34 percent) and New York City residents oppose it (41 to 35 percent). Only suburbanites support fracking (46 to 38 percent) — possibly because they are less aware of its adverse impacts.
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