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Source: Legislative Gazette

Timely delivery to gov's office

Public wants 180 days for fracking comments

BY JORDAN LIPSCHIK

Posted: October 11, 2011
Originally Published: October 11, 2011

Representatives from the Environmental Advocates of New York and Citizens Campaign for the Environment delivered 180 clocks to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office in the Executive Chamber of the state Capitol last Tuesday as a way to ask the governor for more time to review and comment on the DEC's draft environmental impact statement and proposed rules on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, that have recently been made public.

"Governor Cuomo isn't listening to New Yorkers' concerns about fracking. We've held dozens of press conferences, made hundreds of telephone calls and sent thousands of e-mails. We've also posted hundreds of messages to the governor's Facebook page and exercised our organizing muscles on Twitter, but he isn't getting the message," said Katherine Nadeau, the water and natural resources program director for Environmental Advocates of New York.

"New Yorkers deserve 180 days to review the state's 1,500-plus page fracking proposal and that's why our members are sending the governor these clocks today. We want to buy time the old fashioned way."

Environmental groups and anti-fracking activists are angry that the DEC implemented a 90-day public comment period for three documents that would regulate high-volume hydraulic fracturing in New York. They wanted at least six months to comment on the draft regulations.

The 180 water-powered clocks were purchased by members of Environmental Advocates of New York and Citizens Campaign for the Environment, across the state in an attempt to voice their protests over the issue of fracking.

"We can't be industrializing all of upstate New York without having serious consequences," said Nadeau, critiquing the DEC. She said the agency did not include studies on the long-term effects of fracking in the environmental impact statement.

The DEC released its supplemental generic environmental statement on September 7, in order to allow the public to comment on potential fracking impacts on the environment. On September 28, the state released proposals on how fracking would be regulated, as well as a fracking Clean Water Act draft permit to review. The public has until December 12 of this year to comment on all of the proposed legislation dealing with fracking.

"Not only is the public being forced to review a 1,500-plus page document by December 12," Nadeau continued, "they are also being asked to look at draft regulations that are unfortunately based upon a flawed document as well and having to go back and double-comment on these two [proposals]."

Legislative and Policy Director for Citizens Campaign for the Environment Sarah Eckel said, "There is no rush to drill. New Yorkers need time to provide thoughtful and meaningful feedback on the proposed environmental impact statement and regulations … Hydro-fracking for gas leads to industrial sprawl that could result in devastation to New York's air, land, water and people. Denying the public adequate time to review these extensive proposals is like shutting them out of the process."