DiNapoli renews push for gas-drilling accident fund

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State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli became the first statewide official to submit formal comments on the Department of Environmental Conservation’s hydrofracking proposal, using the opportunity to make a renewed push for a gas-drilling accident fund his office would oversee.

DiNapoli submitted a five-page letter to DEC Commissioner Joe Martens today, criticizing the agency’s draft proposals for failing “to adequately address the issue of remediation of contamination resulting from natural gas production.”

High-volume hydrofracking involves a pressurized mix of water, sand and chemicals that is blasted deep underground to unlock gas from shale formations. The gas-rich Marcellus Shale sits underneath the Southern Tier and parts of the Catskills.

In August, DiNapoli proposed a bill that would create a fund — paid for by a fee on gas drillers — that would cover the cost of cleanup from gas-drilling accidents when liability is up in the air. Gas companies, however, were cool to the idea, and the bill has yet to pick up a majority sponsor in the Senate.

“Accidents can happen during natural gas drilling regardless of how carefully the industry and regulators act in trying to prevent them,” DiNapoli said in a statement. “In those instances, New Yorkers should not have to face costly and prolonged delays to clean up contamination. DEC’s revised environmental impact statement and regulations still fall short of addressing how the state would pay for clean-up costs and hold parties that caused the contamination responsible. Establishing a dedicated fund would ensure that hazardous conditions can be cleaned up quickly and responsibly.”

Here’s DiNapoli’s official comments:

DEC Martens Letter

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