Wednesday, October 26, 2011

New York report on fracking cost impacts to be delayed

The state's environmental agency says a key advisory panel will not be issuing a report on the impacts of hydrofracking by a November 1 deadline, delaying part of the process of allowing the natural gas drilling on some private lands in New York until early next year.

WXXI's Karen DeWitt reports:

The State's Environmental Commissioner Joe Martens, says the report from the advisory committee, will be not be issued next month as originally planned, partly because data on costs of fracking to other state agencies, including the departments of health and transportation, aren't ready yet.

Martens says the panel, made up of industry, environmental and community representatives, will be meeting through January of 2012 to try to issue a report that will now also address costs to local governments , as well as the state costs.

"There's no firm timetable," Martens said.

Martens says the data on the potential costs of hydro fracking to the state is "unlikely" to be ready in time for the governor's budget proposal in January, and he says if it's not completed until February or March, it might be "push it out" beyond the start of the new fiscal year, on April 1st.

The DEC Commissioners was asked, following the three hour meeting, whether he thinks hydrofracking permits will be issued in 2012.

"It is really hard to predict," Martens said. "We have a lot of work left to do".

Commissioner Martens says just the review of the thousands of comments that have been received during an ongoing public comment period will take months. The public comment period is scheduled to end December 12th.

Rob Moore, with Environmental Advocates, and a panel member, says giving the group extra time to complete its work is a "positive development".

"We don't let the budget clock dictate the state's deliberations on this," said Moore. "The gas has been down there one hundred million years, it will be down there forever, we've got plenty of time to get to it."

Eric Goldstein, with the Natural Resources Defense Council, also a panel member, says he's relieved that the process is slowing down a bit.

"The entire fracking train from here on in will be traveling at a more reasonable pace," said Goldstein.
See full story here

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