Saturday, July 13, 2013
DEC Stuck in Neutral
Way back in December people - lots of people from all walks of life and all sides of the fracking issue - sent comments to NY Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) regarding proposed fracking regulations. They had one month to comment on 100-plus pages of proposed regulations, and then, commencing January 12th, DEC would read through the comments and continue the rule-making process.
On January 11, environmental groups presented DEC with 200,000 comments. Landowner groups and drilling advocates also responded with thousands of comments.
And what did DEC do with those boxes and boxes of comments? Nobody knows. What they didn't do was complete the rule-making process by the March deadline. Now, half-a-year after receiving the comments, people are wondering: did DEC even read them? Did they file them? Did they toss them in the recycling bin unread?
According to Jon Campbell, of Gannett's Albany Bureau, DEC has ignored the newspaper's inquiries regarding the fate of the hundreds of thousands of comments. This, from an administration that promised transparency in the whole process, from proposed environmental impact statements to proposed rules to proposed health review...
About that health review ... apparently it's on summer vacation, because it still hasn't been completed. So now NY has no fracking regulations and, apparently, no energy to respond to the comments that citizens submitted to their government. They also don't have the health review - and no timeline for when to expect one. Originally a health review was expected sometime last January or February.
No progress. No transparency. And no comment from Cuomo. Assemblyman Robert Sweeney, who chairs the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee, told the press that transparency of the review process has been "insufficient." He thinks DEC has an obligation to respond to the comments.