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UDC comments on DEC’s gas drilling plan

December 21, 2011

NARROWSBURG, NY — The Project Review Committee of the Upper Delaware Council (UDC) on Tuesday unanimously approved a draft of a letter to be sent to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) regarding its SGEIS on natural gas drilling in New York. A previous draft had failed to pass the council as a whole at its last meeting earlier in the month.

The new draft, more narrowly focused, reminds the DEC that it is under executive order to support the UDC in implementing the River Management Plan, which considers heavy industrial uses incompatible in the river. Accordingly, it asks that hydrofracking and ancillary activities should not be allowed in the corridor. It carves out an exception similar to that in the Delaware River Basin Commissio’s proposed regulations for cases where there are no alternative means to extract the gas under the corridor, stipulating however that those cases should be subject to site-specific SEQRA review.

The letter also notes that the New York portion of the corridor constitutes less than one quarter of a percent of state land underlain by Marcellus Shale. In explaining why it calls for a ban in hydrofracking on state parks, the DEC in its SGEIS similarly notes the small percentage of Marcellus Shale land such state land comprises.

The letter will go to the full council, which will vote on it at its next meeting on January 5, 2012.