January 4, 2013

Attn: Draft HVHF Regulations Comments New York State Department of Environmental Conservation 625 Broadway Albany, NY 12233-6510

Dear Commissioner Martens, Please accept the following comments regarding draft regulations on High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing. First, I wish to state my objection to regulations that have been released for final public comment prior to completion of the revised SGEIS—which by law is supposed to inform the subsequent development of regulations—and without having performed a credible health impact study. Furthermore, forcing individuals, organizations, and local governments to submit final comment within 30 days over the holiday season has the appearance of attempting to discourage public participation. Because of inherent risks to public health, the environment, and sustainable economies, and community character, in addition to programmatic deficiencies within the DEC, high-volume hydraulic fracturing should not be permitted in the state of New York anytime in the foreseeable future. Notwithstanding the above objection, I submit the following relating to one of many problems with the draft regulations, specifically the issue of water wells testing. It is disturbing that DEC would consider the limited set of water testing requirements described in the draft regulations to be sufficient, especially in light of tremendous concern that has been voiced by the public about the dangers of groundwater contamination and growing evidence of harm in Pennsylvania and other parts of the country where fracking has occurred. Despite the fact that HVHF wells can extend a mile or more laterally, the proposed regulations require water testing only within 1000ft of the gas well pad (or within 2000ft of the pad if there are no water wells within 1000ft). A study by researchers from Duke University ("Methane contamination of drinking water accompanying gas-well drilling and hydraulic fracturing", Osborne et al. 2011) has shown methane migration to water wells that were 3000ft from active producing gas wells. DEC should therefore at least require testing this far. Also, the regulations only require that the owner/operator make "reasonable attempts" to contact landowners with water wells for permission. What constitutes a "reasonable attempt" is not defined. Interestingly, DEC requires record keeping regarding attempts to deliver tests results to landowners, but not of attempts to seek permission to actually perform water tests. Testing should continue for at least ten years after plugging and abandonment because uneconomical gas wells could be abandoned after a very short period of production, in which case chemicals or methane gas might not reach a water well until after plugging occurs.

The draft regulations should be revised to require testing of all residential water wells and springs within 3000ft of the well pad or within the spacing unit, whichever is larger, before and after fracking occurs. The above requirement should not be limited to residential water wells, domestic supply springs and water wells and springs used for livestock and crops, but should instead include any testable wells or natural springs. If no testable water well or spring exists within the aforementioned area, DEC should require the owner/operator to drill one or more test water wells for monitoring purposes. In addition to testing subsurface water quality, the regulations should require testing of all surface waters, such as lakes, ponds, rivers, or streams within the aforementioned area before and after fracking occurs. The regulations should require continued annual testing for each of the above features until at least ten years after the associated gas well (or in the case of a multi-well pad, every well on the pad) is permanently plugged and abandoned or has been included in a post-abandonment monitoring program. The draft regulations should require that the owner/operator document all attempts to contact landowners, tenant, or residents for permission to perform testing and that such attempts include registered mail. Test results should be made available to the landowner, tenant, or resident within no less than five days of the owner/operator's receipt of results. Any person that uses the water well or spring tested should be provided access to test results. All of the aforementioned testing requirements should apply to any oil or gas well operation, not just those operations using 300,000 gallons of fracking fluid.

If hydrofracking is permitted in the state of New York, it is essential that DEC make every effort to learn as much as possible from each gas well. In the interest of science and to ensure that the public has accurate information, both DEC and industry should welcome a robust set of water monitoring requirements. Yours truly,

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