Fracking permits “extremely unlikely” before April 2015, Martens says

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The state’s de facto moratorium on large-scale hydrofracking appears poised to extend into 2015.

MartensJoseph Martens, the state’s chief environmental regulator, told reporters Monday that it is “extremely unlikely” any permits for high-volume fracking will be issued before the end of March 2015, the close of the state’s 2014-15 fiscal year.

He was clarifying a remark made during a legislative budget hearing earlier in the day, when he said the Department of Environmental Conservation has “absolutely no plans” to issue fracking permits in response to a question about the lack of gas-drilling revenue included in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget proposal.

“I would say it’s a good indication, because there’s no funds in the proposed executive budget for ’14-15, that we will not be issuing permits in the fiscal year,” Martens told reporters. “It’s extremely unlikely. We have no plans to.”

New York first put high-volume fracking — a technique used to help draw gas from underground formations like the Marcellus Shale — on hold in July 2008, when the DEC launched a lengthy environmental review that is meant to guide the permitting process. A de facto moratorium on shale-gas drilling has remained in place since, awaiting the completion of the DEC’s review.

But the finalization of the DEC’s review, known as the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement, now awaits the completion of a separate analysis by state Health Commissioner Nirav Shah. The health review was launched in September 2012, and Shah has given no indication of when his work will be completed.

“Until Dr. Shah finishes his review, we won’t be proceeding with (high-volume hydrofracking),” Martens said. “We just await his recommendations, and there’s no timetable for that recommendation.”

The state has set numerous timelines for completion of the SGEIS, dating back to before Cuomo took office in 2011.

In November, Cuomo said he expected a decision on fracking would be made before Election Day 2014. He later walked that back a bit, saying his timeline is “whatever Commissioner Shah needs to do it right and feel comfortable.”

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  1. If the SGEZIS were released today it would take at least 6 months to get a permit thrtough NY’s permitting process… I would say it’s a sure bet that the first well won’t go in before 2015 but I believe thr regs and decision will be made before then. It is a sham or shame that NY Govermor Cuomo is a coward that can’t stand up for what is right because he is afraid of losing an election. It just shows that the rich and prividged like Cuomo re not the best choice to lead a state or nation. Hopefully the two cases in court will result in a decesion this embarressing excuse for a govermor can’t make

  2. I’m grateful that NY State is treating this decision with the enormity it deserves. High volume horizontal hydrofracking (which has not been done for “60 years …”) does irreversible harm to water, air, health, and climate.

    That said, I also agree with expediting plans to produce more of our own energy, and create more jobs / income by doing so. This *can be done* via energy sources that are *not finite and highly destructive*. NY State has been given a blueprint to obtain energy – *for all purposes* – from wind, water, and sunlight. This is the direction state officials should be going in. The direction of progress. Progress that includes business, innovation, job creation, and also includes sanity and respect for the health of future – and current – generations.

  3. Many, many, many New Yorkers including residents of the southern tier do not want fracking at all, ever. There are so many awful community impacts including lower property values, inability to get mortgages, industrialized neighborhoods. There are other impacts too: risks to health, contaminated water, bad air. No to fracking is just common sense.

  4. I am another New Yorker, speaking for literally almost every other New Yorker that I know, vehemently opposed to fracking, on every level. I am intelligent enough to read and understand the many dangers associated with fracking, from the contamination of water (YES, it HAS been documented, many times) and air, to the sicknesses and even cancers suffered by people living near frack sites, to the destruction of the roads and other infrastructures in communities where fracking is going on, to the issues with hospitals being forced to treat- at their own expense, which is destroying their bottom line- frack workers , most of whom have no health insurance… and what about the property value losses, anywhere near fracking operations…? People can’t even sell to get away from the destruction because no one wants to buy a house near fracking- with good reason! BAN FRACKING NOW!!!

  5. New York can rise to the top of this country’s dirty energy by creating an alternative infrastructure for renewable and sustainable energies. We can be the beacon for the rest of the nation…….. if only we are given a chance and not submit to the shackles of the oil/gas industry, who’s bottom line is the stock holders and their pocketbooks.

  6. The science is becoming clearer and clearer as research continues: the negative impacts of HVHF are real and far-ranging, including water, air, soils, geology, atmosphere, and health. This memo: http://docs.nrdc.org/energy/files/ene_13110101b.pdf summarizes science from fall of 2012 through fall of 2013 with copious citations for follow-up. There are also negative economic impacts to consider, some of which are also covered in this memo.

    I have lived for over 30 years on the NY side of the NY/PA border. We have seen the negative impacts on our PA neighbors and do not want to experience them full-force here. It is bad enough that some of the traffic, noise, light pollution, air impacts, smells, infrastructure and waste disposal problems are already impacting my town/county. I’m happy that we are probably protected from HVHF in NY for the next fiscal year, but won’t feel safe about living here in the future until HVHF is permanently banned.

  7. Explain why 30+ other states are drilling and not since the Gulf spill have we seen any news at all about this devestatiopn of yours. WHY???? Is not all this destruction you claim even news worthy? Or could it simply be all BS.