NY Dept. of Health Needs Additional Time to Study Fracking, Regulations Deadline Likely to be Missed

New York’s decision whether to lift the moratorium on hydraulic fracturing has, again, been delayed.  On Tuesday, New York State Department of Health Commissioner Nirav Shah sent a letter to DEC Commissioner Joe Martens advising that he will need additional time to complete the DOH Public Health Review.

In September, DEC asked DOH to conduct a Public Health Review of the draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) for High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing.  The SGEIS must be adopted before DEC can release final fracking regulations.

In his letter to DEC, Commissioner Shah cites the complexity of the issues and the recency of three comprehensive studies as the reasons for the need for additional time.  As for a timetable for completion, Shah says only that he anticipates “delivering the completed Public Health Review to [DEC] within a few weeks, along with my recommendations.”

The Public Health Review being delayed means that the SGEIS, which was due to be finalized today, will be late.  This almost certainly means that the DEC will not meet its deadline of February 27 to release fracking regulations.  However, Commissioner Martens has said that the delay does not necessarily mean the issuance of drilling permits will be delayed.  According to Martens, if “the DOH Public Health Review finds that the SGEIS has adequately addressed health concerns, and I adopt the SGEIS on that basis, DEC can accept and process high-volume hydraulic fracturing permit applications 10 days after issuance of the SGEIS. The regulations simply codify the program requirements.”


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