DEC chief: New York won’t wait for EPA’s ruling on hydraulic fracturing

ALBANY – It looks like New York State will have all the regulations in place this summer to begin drilling for natural gas in tight shales.

New York’s new environmental chief says the state needs to proceed cautiously with high-volume hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in deep shale formations, but not wait for the Environmental Protection Agency to complete a review of the practice that could take two years.

At a legislative hearing Tuesday, acting Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens said he expects the agency’s updated regulations to be completed in June, the deadline set by former Gov. David Paterson.

“As I think the governor has said, in various policy books, we won’t undertake drilling until we’re confident it can be done safely. And protecting water supplies is, at the essence, our highest priority,” Martens said.

Permits for gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale region of southern New York have been on hold since 2008 when Paterson ordered the DEC to draft new guidelines to address concerns about hydraulic fracturing, which injects millions of gallons of water mixed with sand, soap and chemicals underground to release natural gas.

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