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Frack Truck Impacts on Towns

Frack Truck Impacts on Towns

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Frack trucks, fracking, shale, DEC
Frack trucks, fracking, shale, DEC

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Published by: James "Chip" Northrup on Dec 24, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Frack Truck Impacts on Towns, Roads and Traffic*
Shale gas industrialization can have a devastating impact on local traffic androads.Frack truck convoys can simply destroy rural villages.
The DEC’s dSGEISacknowledges the negative effect of trucking but the DEC fails to address how tomitigate those impacts in its proposed rules. This lack of regulations enables to theDEC to pay lip service to the problem, but avoid actually doing anything about it – or requiring the drilling and fracking contractors to enter into road use agreementswith counties and towns. The DEC has been notoriously lax in actuallypromulgating rules for oil and gas development. If there are few rules, the DEC’senforcement duties are greatly reduced.
* Based on Otsego 2000’s response to the 2011 dSGEIS
 Traffic ImpactsThe DEC is not unmindful of the devastating impact that shale gasindustrialization can have on Upstate towns.
It just does nothing about it. Itsoptions are limited – but it shrinks from holding the industry accountable. Thenumber of heavy truck trips to a drilling site can number in the tens of thousandsover a matter of months – often over narrow country roads that were neverintended for such heavy industrial use. The number of trips to a service yardnumber in the hundreds of thousands. The state has no mechanism to recoup thecosts to repairs state roads – since, under New York law, the state cannot enter intoroad use agreements. Towns and counties can require users to pay for damagesdone to town and county roads, but few have enacted such road use laws. The costto repair state and local road can, according to NY DOT estimates, run into thehundreds of millions of dollars annually - $90 to $156 million for the state, $121 to$222 million for towns and counties.
The state of New York has no funding sourceto pay for these costs, since it is one of the few places on the planet where gasproduction is not directly taxed at the wellhead.
The DSGEIS contains detailed requirements for applicants in preparingTransportation Plans. The DSGEIS recognizes that Transportation Plans are necessary because cumulative truck traffic could adversely impact local roads. The DSGEIS setsforth potential mitigation measures, including requiring Local Road Use Agreements.(DSGEIS Exec. Sum. at 19; see generally DSGEIS at 7-136 to 7-138.)The Proposed Regulations, however, have a far less comprehensiverequirement for a “Transportation Plan.” The Proposed Regulations do not evenmention Local Road Use Agreements. This is surprising because the Department statesthat Local Road Use Agreements will be the “primary mechanism by which localgovernments can hold well operators accountable for damages and repairs to roads, bridges, and drainage structures that may be impacted by their excess use.” (DSGEIS at7-138.) In addition, the Local Road Use Agreement requirement contemplated by theDSGEIS appears to create a loophole, which would enable applicants to avoid enteringinto such agreements.
First, the Proposed Regulations only require “a transportation plan indicatingthe planned route for delivery of raw materials and chemical additives to the site, the proposed route for transport of waste materials and an estimated number of truck tripsassociated with the same.” (See Proposed Regulation § 560.3(a)(20).) This contrastsmarkedly with the DSGEIS, which sets forth far more comprehensive requirements for Transportation Plans:The Department would require, as part of any permit application,that the applicant submit a transportation plan. The transportation plan would identify the number of anticipated truck trips to begenerated by the proposed activity; the times of day when trucksare proposed to be operating; the proposed routes for such truck trips; the locations of, and access to and from, appropriate parking/staging areas; and the ability of the roadways located onsuch routes to accommodate such truck traffic.(DSGEIS at 7-136.) The DSGEIS also details the requirements in connection with LocalRoad Use Agreements, stating that “the owner or operator should attempt to obtain a roaduse agreement with the appropriate local municipality; if such an agreement cannot bereached, the reason(s) for not obtaining one must be documented in the TransportationPlan.” (Id.)At a minimum, the Proposed Regulations must be revised to reflect therequirements imposed in the DSGEIS, including the scope of a Transportation Plan andinformation relating to a Local Road Use Agreement. Moreover, the DSGEIS appearsto leave a loophole for an applicant to avoid Local Road Use Agreements, stating onlythat “if such an agreement cannot be reached, the reasons(s) for not obtaining one must be documented in the [applicant’s] Transportation Plan.” (DSGEIS at 7-138.) Again,municipalities must automatically be apprised of complete hydraulic fracturingapplications within their jurisdictions. See 6 N.Y.C.R.R. § 621.7(a)(1). Thatnotification should specifically set forth whether the applicant has entered into a LocalRoad Use Agreement with the municipality. If local legislation does not prohibit gasdrilling, the municipality must be given reasonable time to object if the parties havefailed to enter into a Local Road Use Agreement, or there exists any materialdeficiencies in such Agreement. Cf. 6 N.Y.C.R.R. § 621.7(b)(6)(iii). If the municipalityobjects to an Applicant’s lack of a Local Road Use Agreement, or identifies anydeficiencies in a purportedly existing Agreement, the regulations should establish that itis a prima facie “substantive and significant issue” warranting resolution in anAdjudicatory Hearing before an ALJ. See 6 N.Y.C.R.R. § 621.8(b); see also N.Y.Mental Hygiene Law § 41.34(c)(5).

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