Both sides of fracking debate uncertain of DEC’s plans

NORWICH – Statements from Albany indicating yet another delay in New York’s four-year long study of shale gas drilling has both sides of the hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, debate up in arms.

Environmentalist activists say Gov. Cuomo’s announcement on Friday, that the Department of Environmental Conservation’s draft rules would be held up until his health commissioner reviews an already-completed health impact assessment, didn’t go far enough. Katherine Nadeau, Water & Natural Resources Program Director, said people “remain in the dark about what is really happening” and called on the administration to clarify whether any fracking permits will be issued prior to the regulations being finalized.

Department of Environmental Conservation spokeswoman Emily DeSantis said Sunday the agency expects to miss a Nov. 29 deadline for finalizing regulations, making it necessary to reopen the process with at least one public hearing. But she said it remains “undetermined” whether an overall environmental study can be completed and permits issued while the agency revisits the regulations. DEC Commissioner Joe Martens had said last year that the agency would issue permits if the environmental review was completed before the regulations are adopted.

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