Environmental Review of Hydraulic Fracturing Operations in New York State


A large part of New York State overlies the Marcellus Shale, a black shale formation that extends deep underground from Ohio and West Virginia northeast into Pennsylvania and southern New York. Geologists estimate that the entire Marcellus Shale formation contains between 168 trillion to 516 trillion cubic feet of natural gas throughout its entire extent. To put this into perspective, New York State uses about 1.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas per year.

New York's State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) requires a government agency to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) for projects that may have a significant effect on the environment. The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) regulates oil and natural gas drilling operations in New York state. In September 2009, the DEC prepared a draft supplemental generic EIS to assess the environmental impacts associated with horizontal drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing of the Marcellus Shale and other low permeability reservoirs. Under SEQRA, a generic EIS is used to assess the environmental impacts of separate actions having generic or common impacts.

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