YNN: Public Comment Period on Hydrofracking Ends

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

By Nick Reisman
YNN Capital Tonight

The public comment period for proposed regulations for high-volume hydrofracking is now closed. Now a battle over whether the controversial natural gas extraction process should be allowed will intensify.

“We know that we are in danger out of the exact same things happening in New York State if we go forward. The science and facts are clear that we must in this point in history ban hydrofracking,” said Senator Liz Krueger.

The Department of Environmental Conservation collected thousands of comments on the process, which involves a mixture of sand, chemicals and water to access underground natural gas reserves.

State officials in Albany, including Governor Andrew Cuomo, have stressed that high-volume fracking won’t be allowed unless proper safeguards are in place. That doesn’t mollify critics in the legislature.

“The so-called positive aspects of hydrofracking are simply not worth the risk of contaminating our water supply,” said Senator Tony Avella.

While some environmental advocates are opposed, business groups point to the economic boon hydrofracking can bring to the jobs-starved Southern Tier region.

The Independent Oil and Gas Association released a statement calling the draft regulations as they are written now far too restrictive. Among other issues, the industry singles out regulations that will curtail the selection of land use and limit the economic viability.

“If I’m a landowner or if I’m one of the thousands of landowners in the Southern Tier who are tiny got cash in on their mineral rights and lease to a company the answer is I probably won’t be able to get that opportunity for quite some time,” said tom West of the Independent Oil and Gas Association.

DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said in statement that the end of the comment period was only an incremental step in the process. He said, If high-volume hydraulic fracturing moves forward in New York, it will move forward with the strictest standards in the nation to ensure New York’s drinking water and other natural resources are thoroughly protected. Public input is an important part of establishing responsible conditions for high-volume hydraulic fracturing as well as determining whether it can be done safely. “

But industry officials say a balance can be struck.

West said, “We’re confident the industry will be able to drill safely in a manner that is protective of the environment.”