Tuesday, October 11, 2011

NYDEC defends fracking rules before panel and skeptics

NYDEC Commissioner Joe Martens. Dan McDonough phot
[Related NY Times story added at 3:57 p.m.]

Environmentalists and others opposed to New York's revised draft fracking SEIS (Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement) got another bite at the document on Thursday at a legislative hearing in Albany.

Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee Chairman Robert Sweeney, D-Babylon, was joined by ten other committee members and by Steven Englebright, D-Setauket, in questioning state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens, DEC General Counsel Steve Russo, Executive Deputy Commissioner Marc Gerstman, and Deputy Commissioner Eugene Leff.

Environmentalists and public health advocates who dominated the audience were skeptical about a number of the DEC officials' claims.

Audience members "expressed hostility towards the DEC representatives at times, going so far as to hiss at Martens," The Legislative Gazette reported.

Martens defended his agency's work.

"We have held 10 hearings to date on the scope of the study and on the 2009 draft of the SGEIS, received more than 13,000 comments and consulted with numerous states on issues they have confronted involving high-volume hydraulic fracturing,  he said.

"We have used the time since the 2009 draft SGEIS was published to learn from the experiences in other states and identify measures that will protect our drinking water, our streams, our air and our land." 

Public comment will be accepted until Dec. 12 on the SEIS document which outlines proposed rules governing a method that combines hydraulic fracturing with horizontal drilling.  

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