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Future of Fracking Remains Uncertain in NY


Opponents and supporters of gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing are stuck in limbo, both sides believing a "final decision" is long overdue, Some local governments have taken matters into their own hands, not waiting for the state to take action. Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports on some of the most recent developments.

As activists continue sounding the alarm over fracking - and political observers try to decipher signals sent from the Cuomo Administration about it - The Westchester Board of Legislators voted unanimously on Monday to ban fracking fluids from the suburban New York county. Westchester joins the list of community governments that have imposed laws impacting gas drilling and hydrofracking, in anticipation the state may give fracking the green light.

In Westchester, no fracking fluids will be allowed in any sewer plants within its lines, the fluid will be banned from sale in the county as well its application on any roads as an ice and snow melt solution.

Legislator Katherine Borgia has taken the issue a step further by asking state lawmakers to introduce legislation.

Lenape Resources' owner John Holko is all-too familiar with local legislation - the town of Avon, where he is based, has issued a moratorium under which he cannot drill new gas wells - he says state law supersedes local law - he would like to see that law enforced, lifting the patchwork of local bans.

It has been suggested that Governor Andrew Cuomo will restrict fracking to the Southern Tier - "not a good idea" says Walter Hang - he is the President of Toxics Targeting, an environmental data base firm based in Ithaca.

"If it's not safe for all New Yorkers it can't possibly be safe for just the residents of the Southern Tier. The Governor has a really long row to hoe. It's fine that there's opposition in Westchester County toward the fracking wastewater, but there's never been any fracking wastewater dumped in Westchester County or anywhere downstate. It's all being dumped in Central New York, in the Finger Lakes, in the Southern Tier," Hang said.

In a related development, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has dealt a crippling blow to those opposed to a planned $43 million natural-gas compression station, denying a request to re-hear arguments against building the Millennium Pipeline project.

And while the fracking issue remains complex and controversial - John Holko says there is really no cause for alarm.

On Monday, chairmen of three Assembly committees sent a letter to DEC Commissioner Joe Martens, urging him to withdraw the latest proposals until the health review is completed. The DEC has not yet returned calls for comment.

Governor Cuomo is caught in the middle of the controversy - Walter Hang promises activists will be in Albany next month and make their presence known at the State of the State address.

A new round of comments on the DEC’s revised set of proposed fracking regulations will be accepted between December 12th and January 11th. The new deadline to finalize the rules is February 27th.

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