ALBANY – Some 76 percent of the current gas and oil wells in New York go uninspected by the state annually and before Albany considers approving hydrofracking to harvest natural gas from shale formations, it should increase staff and conduct more inspections. That assessment came Tuesday from environmental organization Earthworks’ Oil and Gas Accountability Project.
The group released a report which said New York ranks lower in rate of inspections than Colorado, New Mexico and Texas and has less stringent recommended inspection guidelines than some other states. It said few violators are penalized. The number of inspectors in New York has dramatically gone down over recent years, Earthworks said.
Kate Hudson of Riverkeeper said the current problems must be addressed first before any new drilling is allowed.
“If and when they allow hydrofracking to come to New York, without the staff, without the regulatory capacity, and without the penalties and enforcement actions to back that regulatory capacity up, we are going to look just like Pennsylvania,” Hudson said.
Wes Gillingham of Catskill Mountainkeeper echoed those sentiments.
“How do you go forward with something when there is already an existing problem with a very, in comparison to horizontal drilling and hydrofracking and how industry wants to move into the area and industrialize the area, you really have to clean up the mess before you allow something else to happen,” Gillingham said.
The environmentalists expressed skepticism that the state would put enough money into the budget to properly monitor new wells to the levels they say they should be inspected.