A Nov. 29 deadline to finish the state’s review of hydrofracking will be blown, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said today.
Cuomo said a new health panel would not be realistically able to complete its review by next week. It would mean a new round of public comments for the controversial regulations that have been drafted by the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s review of hydraulic fracturing.
“We want a proper process. We want it expeditiously as possible. I don’t see how we get it done by next week,” Cuomo said on 1300-AM (WGDJ).
The state Department of Health last week released the names of three outside experts to assist in reviewing the DEC’s regulations. They will advice on potential health impacts from hydrofracking, which is a technique in which water, sand and chemicals are injected into underground shale formations to fracture the rock and release natural gas.
Environmental groups have warned about the health hazards of hydrofracking, particularly in the gas-rich Marcellus Shale that extends across the Southern Tier. The gas industry has pushed Cuomo to allow for fracking, saying it would be a boon for the region’s economy.
The DEC’s report—known as the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement—was first released in July 2008 and must be finalized before permits for high-volume hydrofracking are issued. The report won’t be completed until the health-specific review is done, the DEC announced in September.
Cuomo has disputed that the extra review is not a step back for the completion of the regulations, despite criticism from drilling proponents.
One of the experts on the health panel told Gannett’s Albany Bureau last week that they were charged with completing their review by mid-February—which would fall in line with a 90 extension of the regulations the state is expected to seek.