Once again, New York state is opening up the issue of hydrofracking to public debate. But as Susan Arbetter reports, it’s not really clear what that means, and opposite sides of the hydrolic fracturing debate are taking swipes at each other again, even while sitting side by side in her studio interview.
Last year, in November, 2011, the Cuomo administration announced it would issue fracking regulations. That triggered a one-year deadline under SAPA, the State’s Administrative Procedures Act – in other words, November of 2012. On Friday, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced it wouldn’t meet that deadline. The Department of Health is doing a new review.
In practical terms, this means there will be a new 45-day comment period and another public hearing. The energy industry isn’t thrilled with the new delay, but it’s putting a positive spin on the news. According to Tom West, of West Law Firm, “It’ll be a good thing for them to finalize the SGEIS, start processing some permits, get the experience, and then base the rules and regulations on that experience and the final standards on the SGEIS.”
Environmental groups are fully supportive of what West has characterized as nothing more than an agency peer review.
William Cooke, of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said in a studio interview, “This thing is a Pandora’s box and there’s no way to do it safely and I think that’s what the DEC and the Governor’s office are starting to really realize. You can’t do it safely.”
Countering Cooke’s statements while sitting by his side, West said, “I have never heard so many untruths pieced together in response to one question in a media interview in my entire career.”
Cooke retorted, “I have to compliment him on the job he’s doing. He should be writing children’s books.
The DEC fielded 80,000 comments during the last public comment period on the issue. Now that the sides have had more time to perfect their messages, there’s no doubt the agency’s decision will bring in thousands more.