Water pollution from drilling discussed in Otsego County


ONEONTA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Congressman Michael Arcuri was in Otsego County on Friday to discuss an amendment he has offered to the Oil Spill Accountability and Environmental Protection Act of 2010.

The amendment will allow the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to once again monitor the amount of runoff water that crosses over construction sites for mining and drilling operations. If you were to build a house or a school, Arcuri explained, you would have to comply and get a waiver from the EPA for runoff water. That's because the runoff water picks up sediment that is then dumped into streams or rivers and then has to be cleaned up by municipalities, Arcuri said.

"Why should everyone else have to get it, yet we were able to sneak the exemption in in 2005 for construction sites...only for oil and gas," Congressman Arcuri said. "so, we're saying let's make sure oil and gas are regulated by the EPA the same way as any other industry. Otherwise, we pay the costs of the additional sediment. We have to clean it out, rather than the oil and gas companies."

If you've ever seen the bails of hay and plastic along the road as you drive by a construction site, those items are used to stop the runoff water from running through the construction site and picking up gravel, Arcuri explained.

In the 2005 Energy Bill, an exemption was made for oil and gas construction and drilling sites - an exemption that Congressman Arcuri hopes would be taken away with this new amendment.

"It allows the EPA to get back into the business of overseeing runoff water on drilling and construction sites, which they snuck in and took out, and they gave them a waiver in the same bill...the FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) Bill that gave us NYRI. "

Congressman Arcuri called the amendment especially important to the Central New York area, and most notably, Otsego County, with the development of natural gas reserved in the Marcellus Shale Formation.

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