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For Release: Wednesday, May 13, 2015

DEC Issues Final Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement on High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing

The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today released the Final Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (FSGEIS) for high-volume hydraulic fracturing that identifies and examines continued major uncertainties about potential significant adverse health and environmental impacts associated with the activity. After a required 10-day period, DEC will issue its formal Findings Statement, in accordance with the State's Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA).

"The Final SGEIS is the result of an extensive examination of high-volume hydraulic fracturing and its potential adverse impacts on critical resources such as drinking water, community character and wildlife habitat," DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said. "We considered materials from numerous sources, including scientific studies, academic research and public comments, and evaluated the effectiveness of potential mitigation measures to protect New York's valuable natural resources and the health of residents. I will rely on the FSGEIS when I issue a Findings Statement in accordance with state law."

The FSGEIS incorporates the State Health Department Public Health Review report issued December 17, 2014, which determined there is significant uncertainty about adverse health outcomes and whether mitigation measures could adequately protect public health, including impacts to air, water, soil and community character.

DEC first issued a draft SGEIS for HVHF in September 2009 examining the potential impacts from HVHF, including: contamination of drinking water supplies, groundwater and surface waters; air pollution; spills; wastewater and solid waste treatment and disposal; ecological impacts; and adverse effects on communities. Concurrently, DEC also evaluated whether mitigation measures would be sufficient to prevent adverse impacts to the environment and public health.

A revised draft SGEIS was released in September 2011, which proposed to: prohibit drilling in the New York City and Syracuse Watersheds, state-owned lands and primary aquifers; restrict HVHF on certain forest and grassland areas; and require additional drinking water mitigation measures. The 2011 draft also expanded the earlier review of socio-economic and community impacts.

Since the issuance of the 2009 draft SGEIS, and the subsequent 2011revised draft SGEIS, DEC has gained a more detailed understanding of the potential impacts associated with high-volume hydraulic fracturing with horizontal drilling from: (i) the extensive public comments from medical and public health professionals, environmental organizations, municipalities, industry groups, and other members of the public; (ii) its review of reports and studies of proposed operations prepared by industry groups; (iii) extensive consultations with scientists in several bureaus within the NYSDOH; (iv) the use of outside consulting firms to prepare analyses relating to socioeconomic impacts, as well as impacts on community character, including visual, noise and traffic impacts; and (v) its review of information and data from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) and the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) about events, regulations, enforcement and other matters associated with ongoing Marcellus Shale development in Pennsylvania.

During the review process, DEC hosted numerous public forums and received more than 260,000 public comments. The FSGEIS includes a lengthy summary of the public comments and DEC's Response to Comments. The Response to Comments, which is over 300 pages long, systematically reviews each type of impact and the public comments about the impacts and potential mitigation measures. In it, DEC recognizes extensive uncertainties about the impacts and how to mitigate them.

A copy of the FSGEIS can be found at: http://www.dec.ny.gov/energy/75370.html.

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