New York State Revised Fracking Rules May Come Before End of Year

CREDO: Cuomo Policy Summit /CC BY 2.0

NRDC Switchboard is reporting that revised proposed rules for fracking in New York State may be coming before the end of the year—even though the state is filing a 90 day extension to move its initial November 29th deadline on the matter (why that is at source).

The announcement has prompted NRDC's Kate Sindling is likening Governor Cuomo to a Dr Seuss character:

The governor has repeatedly sought to assure New Yorkers that he would let the state’s decision-making on fracking be governed by science. Most recently he vowed that he would not rush the newly-announced health review panel in its consideration of the serious risks posed by fracking. To issue revised rules now, when the health panel has only begun its review and the final environmental impact statement hasn’t yet been completed, would be the antithesis of the responsible governance Mr. Cuomo has been promising. The entire purpose of the health and environmental reviews is to inform strong, protective rules for how fracking would move forward if it is given the greenlight in the state. Issuing them prematurely undermines the reviews altogether.

It would also make the governor the Grinch who stole yet another Christmas from New Yorkers by delivering a set of unfinished revised rules – ones that don’t reflect the results of the on-going health and environmental reviews – and asking the public to weigh in on them over the holidays. This means fewer people are likely to be able to voice their concerns in time for the state to consider them as it finalizes the rules.

This all comes as new research in Environmental Research Letters contends that analysis of the greenhouse gas emissions of natural gas obtained by fracking have overestimated them in comparison to conventionally sourced natural gas.

The research finds that to date fugitive methane emissions (those that are either vented, flared or otherwise just escape in the atmosphere) associated with hydraulic fracturing are just 3.6% of the total for the US.

In other words, though the paper authors acknowledge that addressing fugitive methane emissions from the natural gas sector is a genuine concern, assessments finding that greenhouse gas emissions from fracked gas are as high as coal are inaccurate. Instead, the paper contends that greenhouse gas emissions from fracked gas are similar to regular natural gas are similar, that is, by latest assessment, about 40% of those of burning coal.

Of course, higher than usual emissions from fracked gas compared to conventional natural gas are just one of strikes against fracking. Serious, demonstrated, potential for groundwater contamination, the industrialization of landscape, changes in property values, other air pollution and negative effects on infrastructure due to increased truck traffic, are all major concerns.

Tags: Carbon Emissions | Fracking | Natural Gas | New York State