DEC Rushes Draft Fracking Regulations, Skipping Proper Environmental Review Process

fracking ny photo

Image: Marcellus Protest via flickr

The New York Department of Environmental Conservation has announced that draft regulations for industrial gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale through fracking will be issued at the same time as the environmental impact statement—a document that is supposed to inform how the regulations are written in the first place.

Riverkeeper issued a statement today that the move is a violation of a core principle of the state's environmental review statute—and that as recently as July, DEC's official stance was that it would follow the protocol to review first, and then regulate.The deadline for comments on the draft regulations, and for public comments on the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS), is now December 12, and DEC will hold combined hearings for both.

In doing so, said Riverkeeper, "DEC is depriving the public of the right to have their input on the mitigation measures suggested in the SGEIS fully considered before the agency proposes the regulations that would implement them."

According to the watchdog organization, the July 1, 2011 version of the SGEIS said it would:

release regulations after the SGEIS process is complete because it would then "be in a position to rationally determine what additional measures or procedures should become fixed principles that would supplement and improve the Department's existing regulatory framework." This statement is conspicuously absent in the September 1, 2011 version of the SGEIS.

Another problem with DEC's handling of the process? The agency has not committed to wait until regulations are adopted before it begins issuing permits.

Riverkeeper Watershed Program Director Kate Hudson summarizes why rushing the process is so risky: "If DEC gets the regulatory framework for fracking in NY wrong, there will be no second chance. New York must not let arbitrary deadlines rush this critical process."

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More on fracking:
Fracking & Farming Don't Mix - Isn't It Time We Exhibited Some Precaution?
Fracking Wastewater Poisonous To Plants & Trees: US Forest Service
US Fracking Industry Reserves Overstated By At Least 100%: Report
Natural Gas From Fracking Emissions Can Double Those From Coal

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