DEC’s Fracking Review Grows to 4,000 Pages

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The state’s much-anticipated report on high-volume hydraulic fracturing has grown to about 4,000 pages, according to New York’s top environmental regulator.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation has already compiled “a couple thousand” pages of responses to issues raised during a pair of public-comment periods on draft reports, Commissioner Joe Martens told Gannett’s Albany Bureau on Tuesday.

There is still more work to be done, he said, and there is no firm timetable on when a final report may be released. High-volume hydrofracking is on hold in New York until it is complete.

A September draft weighed in at about 1,537 pages, including appendices.

“It’s almost hard to comprehend, but when I tell people that we’ve been working non-stop and working really hard, people have been,” Martens said. “But all of that has to be reviewed and reviewed by executive staff who are administering the agency day-to-day, doing all of the other responsibilities they had before hydrofracking even started.”

When asked about recent reports that permits may ultimately be issued on a limited basis in five counties near the Pennsylvania border, Martens said everything is under consideration.

“Virtually all of those things that were written about were ideas that were generated by organizations or individuals that responded to comments,” Martens said. “So are we considering them? We’re considering them because we have to respond to them.”

He continued: “We have to have answers to suggestions and comments that people made through the public-comment period. So we are looking at geographies, we’re looking at the number of applications, what we can handle. We’re trying to come up with a rational plan that works.”

The DEC first launched its review of hydrofracking for natural gas in 2008. High-volume fracking involves the use of water, sand and chemicals injected deep underground to fracture shale formations and release gas.

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6 Comments

  1. State politicians are heavily taxed intellectually to even read and comprehend the front page headlines of the Daily News, let alone thousands of pages on hydrofracking. They will vote according to who pays them, and how much for their vote.

  2. Dinah DeWald on

    I do not doubt that the DEC is working non-stop to review everything it needs to for these draft regulations. But if it has taken this long just to write the regulations while staff are “doing all of the other responsibilities they had before hydrofracking even started,” how will these same staff members keep up with enforcing the regulations?

    In Pennsylvania, there are regulations in place to protect ground water and air quality, but there are so many violations compared to the permanent staff that gas companies get off with a slap on the wrist. We could have the best regulations in the world, but that won’t help us if we don’t have the power to enforce them.

  3. Regulations and enforcement are needed and necessary, but if history is any guide, by the time the pusillanimous politicians pile on, we may as well import all our energy needs from Iran which will, ironically, be cheaper.

  4. unclefracker on

    Let’s race. I’ll read Anna Karenina five times. You read the SGEIS once and we’ll see who finishes first.