Tuesday, August 10, 2010

That relocated EPA fracking hearing, scratch it!

Earlier today, we reported on the Environmental Protection Agency's decision to change the location of Thursday's public hearing on the controversial gas drilling technique called hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracturing, or just plain fracking.

Call it what you will, it's off.  The hearing, that is, scratched until sometime next month.  
The day-long public meeting (the last in a series of four) originally was scheduled to be held at Binghamton University. The EPA expected it to attract a crowd of up to 1200 persons. 

crowd attending EPA hearing on fracking in Canonsburg Pa in July 2010 
                                           Jeff Swensen for The New York Times
Crowd attending fracking hearing in Canonsburg, Pa in July

When university officials began hearing reports that up to 8,000 impassioned supporters and opponents of the controversial drilling method might descend upon their tranquil campus, they hiked EPA's bill more than five times over the original agreed amount.

They said it was to pay for the added security.

Maybe it was. Or maybe it was to get the EPA to take their hearing and all those impassioned folks somewhere else.

Whatever their motives, it worked. EPA quickly negotiated a new venue--the OnCenter Complex in Syracuse.  It was 65 miles north of Binghamton,  but it was available on the original hearing date, Thursday, August 12.  

The EPA's Region 2 Administrator Judith Enck sounded a little peeved in a press release announcing the need to change the location. Little did she know that, hours later, she'd be issuing a meeting cancellation notice.

What happened in between the news releases?

After EPA received initial agreement on switching the hearing to Syracuse, Onondaga County officials had time to think things over.  They decided they didn’t have sufficient time to arrange for the security that might be necessary to handle protests and rallies outside the meeting itself.

So, the EPA’s meeting planners are back to the drawing board.

A bit embarrassed by all the fuss, perhaps, the agency remains undaunted. Its latest statement notes that residents of Fort Worth, Texas, Denver, Colorado and Canonsburg, Pennsylvania were all afforded a chance to express their views.

Should the EPA adopt new environmental regulations to insure the safety of  shale gas drilling?  

It’s Upstate New Yorkers turn to weigh in on the fracking issue. 
Some day. Some place.  Next month. 

8,000 People? E.P.A. Defers Hearing on Fracking

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