Is fracking on hold in NY? Given that Governor Andrew Cuomo steered clear of the topic during his state-of-the-state address last month, it might be. When questioned by the NY Times, the governor’s office declined to answer questions. They did, however, trot out one of Cuomo’s statements from sometime last fall: that a decision about hydrofracking should be based on the facts and science.
Who will review all those “facts and science”? The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), where workers are busy scanning 61,000 comments on the SGEIS (Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement) on high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing. At least that’s the count according to DEC Commissioner Joe Martens - and that means a lot of scanning which, say press reports, has already resulted in shoulder injuries due to the repetitive action.
Scanning is just the first step. Martens told the AP that “considerable work” needs to be done on the regulations, and he’s assigned 50 staff members to review and respond to those comments.
In the meantime it looks like even the most outspoken pro-drilling advocates are advising patience. Take Tom Libous, the second-ranking Republican in the NY State Senate, who represents counties in the Southern Tier. Counties sitting right on top of Marcellus shale and a handful of other gas-rich formations. Counties where landowner groups are sending members to Texas to negotiate lucrative leases.
Libous recently told the NY Times that the state may not rush to approve hydrofracking permits.
“Economically, we need it desperately,” he told the Times. “But at the end of the day, if the scientists and geologists at the DEC say ‘this is not a good thing to do,’ I’m not going to challenge it.”