Outrageous Gas Industry/DEC Collusion
The Environmental Working Group has brought to light inappropriate collusion and a cozy relationship between the gas industry and the DEC on the SGEIS and fracking regulations (http://www.ewg.org/news/news-releases/2012/06/27/drillers-got-inside-track-ny-fracking-rules). It is clear that the gas industry was given an open door and the red carpet treatment to the inside track on the fracking review and that the gas industry has influenced and shaped the study of fracking, the SGEIS, the regulations, and the science involved. You have promised that this process would be transparent and the review of fracking would be based on the best science. There is no doubt that what the DEC has done fulfills neither.
Why was the gas industry, and the gas industry alone, given exclusive access to the DEC as they were crafting the SGEIS and regulations? That privilege was not extended to independent scientists, public health experts or medical organizations, or members of the environmental community. This collusion between the DEC and the gas industry is putting profits before the best science and best interests of the public. This is dangerous public policy. When asked by Times Union reporter Brian Nearing (http://j.mp/MVpfwR), the DEC’s response was that that they wanted to “ensure that regulations are not overly burdensome.” Is public health a burden to the DEC? Is good science?
It appears from the contents of the documents revealed by the FOIL requests that a true “scientific review” of fracking was not going to happen. DEC never in good faith accessed the data and let it determine whether or not fracking should move forward. This is not good science. This is not even science. Science doesn’t conclude first and then go out and shape the data to fit the conclusions.
It is clear that all of the independent research, all of the independent studies, and entire issues of grave concern were excluded from the DEC’s review and the SGEIS. Was this because the gas industry asked the DEC to leave them out? It appears that the gas industry was a consultant on the SGEIS, but was it also a co-author? How far does this inappropriate influence extend?
For years, and especially in the last year since the draft SGEIS was released, hundreds of medical professionals, scientists, researchers, and the broad general public have raised grave concerns about what is missing from the SGEIS. A recent report (http://www.ewg.org/release/serious-flaws-plague-ny-drilling-plan) by the New York-based Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy and Environmental Working Group details the top 10 scientific flaws in the SGEIS. Those flaws include issues such as no plan for toxic wastewater, inadequate review of radioactive pollution including health impacts of radon, no empirical scientific data on drilling and fracking risks, no assessment of the impacts on public health, and little data on risks to groundwater relating to faults and flood plains, among others.
The very serious concerns about well casings that are documented in the gas industry’s own studies are not even referenced by the DEC. There is no answer and no solution to the issues with well casing failures. In a 6/27/12 interview with Susan Arbetter on Capitol Pressroom, Dr. Tony Ingraffea of Cornell, an expert on well casings and shale gas extraction, pointed to the fact that for four years scientists including himself have been trying unsuccessfully to get the DEC to look at gas industry studies detailing high rates of well casing failures and grave concerns about water contamination stemming from such failures.
The revelations about the relationship between the gas industry and DEC finally give the public an answer as to why those concerns have fallen on deaf ears and why shocking inadequacies and flaws plague the SGEIS.
The public can have absolutely no faith in the process, the DEC’s study, and the current SGEIS and revised regulations. There remains no ground upon which the SGEIS can stand. The SGEIS must be withdrawn and NY must start over with transparent and independent reviews of environmental, economic, and health studies that accompany any new draft SGEIS. Independent scientists must be intimately involved with this process, as the people who have been involved so far have shown that they are not capable of an objective, safe analysis.
More information, including documents revealed through FOIL requests, including documents that have been alarmingly redacted: