DEC chief: State may miss fracking deadline


The state may miss a key deadline in its analysis of hydraulic fracturing if the Department of Health recommends new safety measures, New York’s top environmental regulator said Monday.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation faces a Feb. 27 deadline to finalize its proposed fracking regulations or allow them to expire. Whether the agency will meet the deadline depends on when state Health Commissioner Nirav Shah completes his review of the DEC’s analysis and what he ultimately recommends, DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens said at a legislative budget hearing Monday.

“It all depends on what the health review says,” Martens said. “If it recommends additional measures, then it’s going to difficult to finalize it and get the regulations finalized.”

Martens first asked Shah in August late September to analyze the DEC’s review of hydrofracking and make recommendations with the assistance of three outside consultants. In a separate budget hearing last week, Shah said he believes his review will be finished “in a few weeks.”

But the DEC’s time frame is tight. In order to finalize the regulations by Feb. 27, the agency would likely have to finalize a lengthy environmental review — which it first launched in 2008 — by Feb. 13.

If the regulatory deadline is missed, the state would have to again put the regulations out for public comment — a move that could delay a decision on fracking for months.

Missing the end-of-February deadline would deal a blow to the natural-gas industry and pro-drilling landowners, who have urged the DEC to allow high-volume fracking in order to tap the gas reserves in the Marcellus Shale formation.

Opponents of fracking packed the hearing room where Martens delivered his testimony Monday, occasionally cheering lawmakers’ questions and groaning at Martens’ responses.

“I think you’ve even doing a great job — except on the issue of hydrofracking,” Sen. Tony Avella, D-Queens, said to applause.


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  1. I just left this budget hearing, and at no time did Commissioner Martens admit that the deadline might be missed- he did lots of hemming and hawing, and skirted the issue of the dangers of fracking every time he was pressed on the issue. He seems to have a very bad memory of things related to fracking when caight in lies, and he kept evading the safety of regs and of the process itself, saying that we don’t have data because it’s not occurring in NY yet. Apparently he doesn’t understand the idea of learning from others’ mistakes- we have data from many other states , on the health and environmental damage caused by hydrofracking. Why allow it here and THEN learn how destructive it is!?