The draft regulations fail to require the applicant to identify and depict all areas thatcould be impacted by gas development. Section 560.3(c)(2) states that a topographicmap should be produced that depicts certain features such as tanks and pits within2,640 ft of the well, but this does not necessarily include all gas development activitiesin the spacing unit.
The regulations should be strengthened to require theidentification of all features and equipment associated with gas developmentoperations in the entire spacing unit, including but not limited to thoselisted, as well as any other chemical containers, equipment, storage, stagingareas, and water impoundments. Any transmission or processinginfrastructure, such as compressor stations and gathering lines should alsobe identified. The regulations should require that all impacts be consolidatedto the greatest extent possible to minimize impacts within the spacing unitand to surround area.
The draft regulations fail to require the identification of all natural and human featuresthat could be impacted by gas development within the spacing unit. Section 560.3(a)"Application Requirements" requires the identification of distances between the wellpad and domestic springs, water wells, aquifers, streams, and dwelling for whichspecific setbacks apply, but does not require the identification or mapping of any otherenvironmental features. Similarly the regulations require that a list of invasive speciesfound on site be prepared along with BMPs, but does not require the identification of natural communities or wildlife, including rare and non-rare species, or BMPs regardingthem. It is not possible to ensure that environmental impacts are minimized withoutthis information.
The draft regulations should be strengthened to require theidentification and mapping of all natural and human features within thespacing unit where fracking is planned. This includes all natural surfacefeatures, including but not limited to topography, waters, wetlands, springs,floodplains, vegetation, natural communities, and wildlife. Also includedshould be all subsurface features including aquifers, karst areas, faults, andold wells. Property lines should be identified and mapped, along withexisting land uses (including agriculture) and development such as homes,schools, barns, businesses, roads, and transmission lines. All informationsupplied should be documented by certified biologists, engineers, or otherexperts as applicable and an assessment prepared to demonstrate thatadverse community, property, and environmental impacts have been avoidedor minimized. An applicant pursuing a project involving multiple well sitesand spacing units should be required to submit all of the above for the entireproject along with an assessment of impacts, direct and cumulative withinthe project area and affected by the project area. Finally the regulationshould clearly state that DEC has authority to require revisions to planssubmitted to ensure that impacts are avoided or minimized.
The draft regulations contain no specific site requirements regarding wildlife andhabitat or the avoidance of habitat fragmentation. Although some Best ManagementPractices (BMPs) are discussed in the 2011 revised draft SGEIS as possible "permitconditions", no indication has been given regarding which, if any, of these will actuallybe required. Unlike, for example, BMPs to control invasive species, well-site BMPsrelating to wildlife, natural habitat, and fragmentation are not even referenced in thedraft regulations, suggesting that DEC has little intention of addressing these impactsor their avoidance. This also raises the question of what, if anything, can or will be