December 18, 2012 Attn: Draft HVHF Regulations Comments New York State Department of Environmental Conservation 625 Broadway Albany, NY 12233-6510 Re: Regulations Fail to Address HVHF Gas Production Cumulative Infrastructure Section 550.2, 552 and 560.4 Summary While partially addressing how a HVHF well is drilled and fracked, the proposed regulations fail to address the full industrial infrastructure necessary to produce, process and transport gas. By ignoring the gas production infrastructure, the DEC grossly understates the negative impact of HVHF gas wells on other land uses, people, animals and the environment. Some key activities, such as seismic testing, are not addressed at all. By failing to address the entire gas production process, the proposed regulations are grossly deficit. Discussion New York tasks the DEC’s Division of Mineral Resources (DMR) with all regulatory oversight over “the exploration and drilling for, and production, transportation, purchase, processing and storage of oil and gas.” The DMR is also tasked with environmental oversight over oil and gas production, which virtually insures that it will be compromised in that task.1 "Section 550.2 is amended to read: (a)To carry out the functions outlined in section 550.1 of this Part, the Department of Environmental Conservation has created a Division of Mineral Resources.



(b)The Division of Mineral Resources is headed by a director who is responsible for the administration and enforcement of all rules, regulations, orders and amendments thereof of the Department of Environmental Conservation relating to the exploration and drilling for, and production, transportation, purchase, processing and storage of oil and gas and other wells regulated under Environmental Conservation Law Article 23, and the prevention of any pollution resulting therefrom."

The DMR Fails to Regulate or Require Seismic Testing From the outset of the process – exploration – to the end, transportation, the DMR is lax in its regulatory oversight. For instance, the first step in the exploration process is typically seismic tests – the drilling of shot-holes, the firing of charges and the capture and assessment of the result shock waves to determine the location and configuration of targeted sedimentary strata. Seismic test can also reveal where localized faulting occurs. The avoidance of such faulting is essential to protect aquifers from contamination and to avoid producing micro-earthquakes during fracking.2 The DMR has no regulations for seismic testing.3 No standards as to where they may be shot, no requirement for seismic testing to be done – even in areas that are known to be highly faulted. This lack of any regulations or standards presents several problems: 1. Lack of protection for the built environment – Seismic blasts can damage water wells, springs, water systems, underground utility lines and foundations. 2. Lack of information on localized faulting – Failure to shoot 3D seismic can result in a HVHF literally fracking a localized fault – which can cause the frack to go “out of zone” into an aquifer contaminating it4 or precipitate earthquakes.5 3. The DMR is lax in its oversight. The failure to regulate seismic testing is indicative of the DMR’s lackadaisical approach to regulating oil and gas activities,6 much less protect the public and the environment, as it is charged.
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The DMR Fails to Review Drilling Programs on a Comprehensive Basis HVHF drilling is typically done on a multiple well drilling program – over an area known as a “basin” or “field.” As such, other states, notably Colorado, 7 require that the operator submit their entire drilling program for review – so that the regulators can gauge the full impact. New York’s DMR, in contrast, has no such requirement – it reviews each drilling application in isolation, which does not take into account the cumulative impact of a multiple-well program. This one-at-a-time approach has two fundamental problems: 1. 2. The DMR fails to assess the total environmental impact of a drilling program on the public or the environment because it never sees the program in its totality – only one well application at a time. The DMR cannot assess the infrastructure needs of a drilling program - since it does not see the program, only the individual wells. This problem is compounded by the fact that the DMR has no objective regulations to address the industrial infrastructure of HVHF gas production.

The DMR fails to regulate the industrial infrastructure of HVHF gas production HVHF gas well applications are reviewed without consideration of the cumulative infrastructural needs of producing gas. See for instance 552, 553 and 560.4. The spacing of gas wells are addressed in the wells (only in the context of mineral rights, not surface rights)8 but there are no regulations on the ancillary equipment – the field gas processing plants, the field gas compressors, or the field gas gathering lines. Poignantly, there are no setbacks proposed for any of these industrial facilities in 560.4. 9 A field gas processing system strips noxious gases out of the raw gas – venting radon, benzene, etc. to the atmosphere. There is no setback proposed by the DMR for such a field unit from a school yard, barn, shopping center or hospital. Likewise, a de-gasser separates raw gas from produced water – yet there is no setback proposed for de-gassers in the regulations. Indeed the setbacks in 560.4 are only from the well itself – not from any of the ancillary systems - such as open pits, compressors or from gas field infrastructure – any of which could be adjacent to a house, stream, or shopping center. These are inherently hazardous, noxious industrial systems. Field gas compressor can explode. Gathering lines can burst. Field gas processing plant can and do gas the public with un-flared emissions. Yet the DMR, tasked with protecting the public and the environment, is silent on gas field infrastructure in these regulations.

James L. Northrup 17River Street Cooperstown, NY 13326

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