New York Water Rangers Slams Governor, DEC for Putting Fracking Regulations on Fast Track

A coalition of environmental groups has criticized New York Governor Mario Cuomo and state environmental regulators over the way they’ve purportedly “fast-tracked” regulations that, if adopted, would bring high-volume <"">hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to most of the state’s Marcellus shale region. New York Water Rangers says both the governor’s and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) rush to adopt the regulations have obscured the true costs of fracking to infrastructure, public health, and the environment.

New York’s moratorium on natural gas drilling via high-volume, horizontal fracking officially expired on July 1. The same day the ban expired, the DEC issued a report recommending that fracking be allowed on most private lands in the state, with the exception of the environmentally sensitive watersheds that supply New York City and Syracuse with drinking water. Just this past Wednesday, the DEC issued a revised draft of its proposed fracking regulations. If the DEC’s recommendations are adopted, 85 percent of the Marcellus Shale in New York would be accessible to natural gas extraction via fracking.

The DEC has scheduled public hearings on the proposed fracking regulations for November 16 in Dansville, November 17 in Binghamton, November 29 in Sheldrake and November 30 in Manhattan.

The New York Water Rangers, a coalition consisting of Catskill Mountainkeeper, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Earthjustice, Earthworks Oil & Gas Accountability Project, Environmental Advocates of New York, Natural Resources Defense Council, New York Public Interest Research Group and Riverkeeper, Inc., have been highly critical of the proposed regulations. In new press release issued yesterday, Robert Moore, executive director of Environmental Advocates of New York said Governor Cuomo was fast-tracking the state’s fracking plans by releasing the regulations while the state’s environmental review is incomplete.

“The Governor is determined to begin drilling without the benefit of the science and without thoroughly understanding the costs of drilling.”

In its statement, Water Rangers expressed concern that the DEC won’t allow the members of the state’s fracking advisory panel to question the firm hired to examine fracking’s costs to public health, the environment and communities.

“Riverkeeper remains concerned that DEC is rushing the regulatory review process. DEC is proposing only 75 days for a 40-year update of its regulations, which have never addressed high-volume hydraulic fracturing, and asking the public at the same time to comment on its fracking environmental impact statement. By issuing regulations before the environmental review process is complete, DEC is depriving New Yorkers of the opportunity for their comments to be considered in the development of those draft regulations,” said Kate Hudson, Riverkeeper Watershed Program Director.

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