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The purpose of oil and natural gas regulations is to establish the framework within which regulatory
programs insure that protection of the environment, especially water, is given the highest consideration with respect to the development of oil and gas resources.
While regulations are not the sole measure of regulatory effectiveness, they are an indicator of regulatory intent. They form the backbone of the regulatory program. Without regulations there would be little if any control over processes with the potential to create environmental harm.
Programmatic elements implemented in conjunction with regulatory language form the basis for an
effective regulatory program. The reader should keep this in mind and consult each state regulatory
agency website or speak with appropriate state agency staff, before concluding that a particular area is not addressed by a particular state. For example, New York's Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) relies on statutory authority and regulation, but also utilizes an environmental review process, technical guidelines and special permit conditions to ensure safe and environmentally protective development of oil and gas resources. New York's broad statutory powers are conveyed in Article 23 of the Environmental Conservation Law.
Rules and regulations contained in 6NYCRR Parts 550-559 establish permitting practices and safeguards such as well setbacks from structures, roads, surface water bodies and streams. However, the DEC's Division of Mineral Resources also reviews all oil and gas drilling permits in accordance with the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) to ensure that the environmental impact of resource extraction will be mitigated to the greatest extent possible.
Further, a Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) completed in 1992 evaluates potential environmental impacts from oil and gas drilling and recommends mitigation practices. Regulatory elements such as these are designed to insure oil and gas operations are conducted in a manner that is both safe and environmentally protective. The report you are about to read is designed to convey the intent of regulations enacted by states for the purpose of protecting water resources. Although the content of the report does not reflect the unanimous views of all members of the Ground Water Protection Council, it is offered as a general view of the GWPC member states.