Last week, New York State Department of Health (DOH) Commissioner Nirav Shah sent a letter to Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joseph Martens requesting more time to address the health issues associated with hydraulic fracturing (fracking).
This delay forced DEC to miss a regulatory deadline. While there has been no immediate decision on when (or if) fracking will move forward in New York, Commissioner Shah mentioned three studies pivotal to assessing fracking-related health risks that are nowhere near finished, suggesting no decision will be made soon, and Governor Andrew Cuomo and his commissioners should be commended for now letting science drive the process, not arbitrary deadlines.
In his response to Commissioner Shah, however, Commissioner Martens proposed that NY could potentially move forward with fracking without regulations in place. “The Sierra Club cautions that moving forward with permitting, after the SGEIS [Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement] has been completed and before a new regulatory review has been finalized, will be met with fierce opposition,” said Roger Downs, Atlantic Chapter Conservation Director. “We trust that the DEC will indeed take this opportunity to reevaluate the legality of using an environmental review process as a de facto regulatory program.”