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SGEIS on the Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Regulatory Program

Well Permit Issuance for Horizontal Drilling and High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing to Develop the Marcellus Shale and Other Low-Permeability Gas Reservoirs

The Department of Environmental Conservation regulates the development and production of oil and gas resources in New York State. The development of a potentially significant gas resource in the Marcellus Shale uses horizontal drilling and a high-volume hydraulic fracturing technique known as "slick water fracturing." This technique requires large volumes of water and requires further review under the State Environmental Quality Review Act ("SEQRA") before any well permits can be issued.

Review Process Time Line

  • 1992 - DEC developed a Generic Environmental Impact Statement ("GEIS") which sets parameters that are applicable statewide for SEQRA review of oil and gas well permitting.
  • 2/06/09 - The Final Scope described the topics that needed to be reviewed related to well permit issuance for high-volume hydraulic fracturing in a Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS). Written and verbal comments from all interested parties were considered in the preparation of the Final Scope.
  • 9/30/09 - The Draft SGEIS was released for additional public review and comment. More than 13,000 comments were received until the close of the comment period on December 31, 2009. Read the Draft SGEIS.
  • 12/13/10 - Governor Paterson ordered DEC to conduct further environmental review to ensure that all environmental and public health impacts are mitigated or avoided and to present this information to the public for further review.
  • 7/01/11 - DEC released the Executive Summary of the Preliminary Revised Draft SGEIS, prepared after considering the many comments received on the Draft SGEIS.
  • 7/08/11 - DEC released the full Preliminary Revised Draft SGEIS.
  • 9/7/2011 - DEC released the Revised Draft SGEIS and supporting socioeconomic study and the public comment period was opened. More than 60,000 comments were received until the close of the comment period on January 11, 2012.
  • The Final SGEIS will be prepared after consideration of public comments and will set additional parameters for SEQRA review. The Department will then process and, as appropriate, issue well permits for gas well development using high-volume hydraulic fracturing in accordance with both the GEIS and the SGEIS.

Aspects of High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing Reviewed in the Draft SGEIS

These include the potential impacts of:

  • Water withdrawals
  • Transport of water to the site
  • Use of additives in the water to enhance hydraulic fracturing
  • Space and facilities required at the well site to ensure proper handling of water and additives
  • Removal of spent fracturing fluid from the well site and its disposal
  • Potential impacts at well sites where multiple wells will be drilled during a three-year period

Noise, visual and air quality considerations are noted, along with the potential for cumulative and community impacts. The well permitting process is described, and regulatory coordination with other jurisdictional agencies and local governments is also discussed.

More about SGEIS on the Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Regulatory Program: