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Source: Rochester City Newspaper

Cuomo's deadline not high on list of fracking concerns


Posted: June 6, 2011
Originally Published: June 6, 2011

Last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo told the state Department of Environmental Conservation that he wants its Marcellus Shale environmental review in his hands by July 1.

Some environmentalists are unhappy about that deadline. But the environmental community, for the most part, remains focused on the issues that have defined the Marcellus Shale drilling controversy in New York.

Sarah Eckel, legislative and policy director for Citizens Campaign for the Environment, says the deadline matters less than what happens after the draft is released. Once it's released, there will be a minimum of 30 days for public comment. Eckel's organization, however, wants a 180-day comment period, to give citizens more time to read the document and ask thoughtful questions.

The previous 800-page environmental review had obvious holes, such as the omission of any sort of cumulative environmental impact, Eckel says. Her organization also wants the state to develop comprehensive rules for oil and gas drilling.

Frank Regan, a member of the local Sierra Club, says that the DEC isn't being left enough time to finish a thorough review. But he expects that the state will ultimately allow a combination of horizontal wells and hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus and Utica Shales.

Because of the complexity of underground rock structures, "It's way beyond our ability to prove the safety of hydrofracking," Regan says, "and so it becomes a political and economic debate."

Regan also says that the real problem is climate change, and that the state should focus on renewable energy instead of gas drilling.