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The state’s environmental agency will know by Thursday whether it will miss a key deadline and delay approval of hydrofracking in New York once again. As Karen DeWitt reports, anti-fracking forces see an opportunity in the likely new delay, while those waiting to benefit economically from the gas drilling process are feeling frustrated.
Governor Andrew Cuomo says he expects the State’s Department of Environmental Conservation will fail to meet a November 29th deadline to propose new rules for the gas drilling process known as hydro fracking.
“We are not going to be able to,” Cuomo said. “The state wont finish the review by November 29th.”
Speaking in Rochester, Cuomo says the environmental agency will have to apply for an extension , which could delay the process for up to another six months.
The Health and Environmental Departments have agreed that a health review needs to be finished before new fracking rules can be finalized. The State Health Commissioner, Dr. Nirav Shah, just a few days before Thanksgiving, contracted with three nationally known health experts to help him examine the material.
Groups who oppose fracking say they’ll use the new delay as an opportunity to try to prevent the drilling from ever happening in New York . Walter Hang with Toxics Targeting, says his group will be writing letters to the three health experts to urge a thorough health review.
“I'm going to do everything I can to make sure that Dr. Shah and the three outside experts are fully aware of all of the pollution problems that have been reported in New York's oil and gas regions for decades and decades. We’re going to call upon them to make sure that they address all of those concerns,” Hang said.
Hang says there have been reports of past drinking water contamination, and failure to clean up past pollution from drilling. But he worries that the review will be narrowly focused, and not address opponents’ concerns, and he says he’s frustrated that the details of the review have not been made public.
“What are they supposed to do? That has never been disclosed,” said Hang. “We don’t know what the scope of their review is.”