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Chemical makers support drilling plan

ALBANY -- The makers of petrochemicals used in natural gas hydrofracking back proposed new gas drilling rules offered this month by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Members of the American Chemical Council, which represents makers of hydrofracking chemicals sold to drilling companies, were in Albany on Wednesday to meet with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's office to support DEC rules that would open much of the state's Southern Tier to such drilling.

Cal Dooley, president of the council, also met with members of the Times Union editorial board to praise the proposed DEC rules as "balanced" and adequate to protect air and water from potential pollution.

He said while some hydrofracking chemicals are toxic and carcinogenic, public exposure to such chemicals is manageable, and that there are no known cases of the chemicals -- which are injected deep underground a mile or more to fracture gas-bearing rock layers -- reaching the surface to contaminate water or air.

Part of the proposed rules issued by the DEC would make New York the first state to require drilling companies to disclose the chemicals injected into wells.

Dooley said the industry supports that -- as long as the state does not disclose "confidential business information." The DEC is expected to start a 60-day comment period on the proposal next month.

Dooley said cases of contaminated drinking water occur, like that found in Dimmock, Pa., where homeowners can set well drinking water on fire, are caused when well bores are not properly sealed, allowing lighter-than-air methane gas to rise through wells, fissures in rock and into drinking wells.

Dooley said the chemical manufacturers support "state-by-state" regulations to address hydrofracking risks, rather than a comprehensive federal approach.

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