A day after enacting a promised ban on fracking, New York Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joseph Martens has announced that he'll step down this month, the Associated Press reports.
The Open Space Institute, a Manhattan-based non-profit land preservation group, said Wednesday that Martens will join the group this summer as a consultant focusing on national climate change policy. Martens headed the group before he was appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to head the DEC in 2011.
Martens said in an email to DEC staff that his executive deputy, Marc Gerstman, will serve as acting commissioner until Governor Cuomo appoints a successor.
Fracking ban now official
On Monday, Martens finalized the state's ban on high-volume hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, a decision he had announced in December. The ban, culminating seven years of environmental and health impact reviews, makes New York the only state with significant shale gas resources to prohibit the technology.
The state has had a moratorium on fracking since the environmental review began in 2008, before Cuomo took office. The technology has produced new jobs, created economic growth and reduced energy prices but has triggered concern that it could pollute air and water, cause earthquakes and pose long-term health effects that aren't yet known.
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