N.Y. Reps. Maloney, Hinchey and Nadler call on EPA to revisit decision to allow hydraulic fracturing in NYC watershed
WASHINGTON, DC – Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) yesterday wrote Lisa Jackson, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), asking her to review an internal EPA decision to not call for a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in the New York City Watershed.
As some have questioned the growing industry’s ability to safely dispose
of the waste, it was reported by The New York Times last Thursday that
internal versions of the EPA's comments on New York's Supplemental
Generic Environmental Impact Statement included a ban on so-called
“hydrofracking” in the area of upstate New York that supplies drinking
water to New York City—but that that prohibition was removed in the
final public version.
Concerns about the hydrofracking process include the inadequacy of
sewage treatment plants which might handle the millions of gallons of
wastewater that are a byproduct of the process, including the plants’
inability to remove potentially higher levels of radioactivity than
previously known to result from the drilling method. Potential
contamination of widely used sources of drinking water could also
Text of the letter follows below and may also be viewed here as a PDF.
March 7, 2011
Lisa P. Jackson
Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20460
Dear Administrator Jackson:
We write to share our concern about the recent series in the New York
Times about environmental and health concerns caused by hydraulic
fracturing. As Representatives from New York, we are especially
troubled to read the NYT article ‘Politics Seen to Limit E.P.A. as It
Sets Rules for Natural Gas’ (Thursday 03/03/2011) as parts of it
directly concern the ongoing debate on new high-volume hydraulic
fracturing to access natural gas buried under the portion of the
Marcellus Shale that runs through New York.
The natural gas industry has seen tremendous growth in the last few
years, and in this series, the NYT asserts that enforcement of laws and
regulations have not kept pace. As you know, New York State is not
issuing any new permits for hydraulic fracturing operations in the
Marcellus Shale, until the state completes its Supplemental Generic
Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS). The Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) provided comments to the state on the draft SGEIS.
Thursday's NYT article presents internal EPA documents showing that last
year the agency’s planned call for a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing
in the New York City watershed was removed from the publicly released
letter addressed to the state. According to the article, the moratorium
advice was removed from the publicly released letter because of
“politics”. This allegation is very disturbing.
From testimony you provided last week before the House Appropriations
Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, we
understand that you went to Pennsylvania to assess the very concerning
reports that have come out about EPA's oversight of drilling waste in
that state. We ask that you also look into contamination concerns in
New York and look into the withdrawal of the planned call for a drilling
moratorium in the New York City Watershed. We look forward to hearing
back from you on the matter.
CAROLYN B. MALONEY MAURICE D. HINCHEY JERROLD NADLER
Member of Congress Member of Congress Member of Congress
Enclosed: ‘Politics Seen to Limit E.P.A. as It Sets Rules for Natural Gas’, New York Times, 03/03/2011
Cc: Judith Enck, Regional Administrator for the Region 2, EPA
New York Times, February 27, 2011: "Regulation Lax as Gas Wells’ Tainted Water Hits Rivers"
New York Times, March 2, 2011: "Wastewater Recycling No Cure-All in Gas Process"
New York Times, March 4, 2011: ‘Politics Seen to Limit E.P.A. as It Sets Rules for Natural Gas’