Back to the drawing board? DEC to miss November deadline for fracking regulations

Oct 1, 2012

Good Morning and welcome to the Monday Trail Mix from the Innovation Trail.

The major story for the start of the week is confirmation late in the day last Friday by the DEC that it is likely to miss the  the November 29th deadline it was required to meet for the handing down of regulations to govern hydrofracking in New York state.

The November deadline is linked to a NY state law that attaches a one-year clock for imposing regulations set by the last day of public hearings held on the issue; in this case November 30th, 2011.

The missed November deadline does not effect the status of the broader environmental impact study (dSGEIS) that the DEC is still pulling together complete with thousands of pages of fracking guidelines. Jon Campbell has more detail here from his Politics on the Hudson blog.

Environmental journalist Tom Wilber says it is likely that there will be a reopening of the public hearing process around regulation. 

The DEC can also request a three-month extension to bring down regulation, but given that it is on the record as saying that no regulation would be set until the completion of the in-house health impact study, this would seem an unlikely option. 

Here are a few other references:

DEC spokesperson Emily De Santis is quoted from an email sent on Friday to journalist Tom Wilber, author of the Shale Gas Review blog:

"Given that DEC has said no regulations or final decision will be issued until the completion of (Health Commissioner Nirav Shah's) review, should high-volume hydraulic fracturing move forward, it is expected that a new rule-making process would be undertaken." 

An article in the New York Times over the weekend suggested that the delay also signaled a shift in the thinking of Governor Cuomo on the issue. The article also puts forward that the governor has:

"...been influenced by the unshakeable opposition from a corps of environmentalists and celebrity activists who are concerned about the safety of the water supply."

The NYTimes report also cited the close political connection between the governor and environmental advocate/lawyer (and ex-brother-in-law) Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Here's Mr Kennedy quoted in the New York Times.

“I’m surprised how long he’s withstood the tide,” Mr. Kennedy said of the governor. “I’m proud that he’s done that. There’s no other governor who’s just said ‘let’s hold off.’ And he’s under, I can tell you, tremendous pressure by the industry and by others.” 

More followup on this by WXXI Capitol bureau correspondent Karen DeWitt later today.