POLITICS

N.Y. fracking supporters fear delay after missed deadline

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Michal Conger

New York missed its deadline this week on releasing an environmental impact report on fracking that will give regulators guidelines for drilling rules, and fracking supporters worry it will mean further delays before they can start drilling.

The report will be held until the state’s Department of Health releases its review on the public health impacts of fracking in several weeks, the Department of Evironmental Conservation announced on Tuesday.

DEC said fracking permits will not be delayed if the state decides to approve the controversial drilling practice, but pro-fracking suporters say this is only the latest hitch for fracking in what has been a long “hurry up and wait” process.

“Families, consumers, and workers across the nation are realizing the economic, environmental, and energy security benefits of safe and responsible natural gas development,” said Steve Forde, spokesman for pro-fracking group Marcellus Shale Coalition, said in a statement to The Washington Examiner. 

“Leaders in Albany have had a clear choice for some time now: move forward with common sense regulations that will create more jobs, higher revenues, and cleaner, more affordable energy, or prolong a hurry-up-and-wait process that places the state further on the sidelines at a time when its residents can afford it least,” he said.

Some worry the delay could last much longer than a few weeks.

“I don’t think we’ll see a drill bit in the ground until early 2014,” said Tom West, an attorney at the West Firm, which represents oil and gas companies in the state, according to Reuters. “The outcome remains uncertain, as it has done for the last four and a half years, and we are very disappointed.”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he will not rush the health review to satisfy the drilling industry.

“I don’t think that’s prudent and I don’t think that’s right and I won’t do it,” he told reporters on Wednesday, according to the Star Gazette.

Fracking has been on hold in New York since 2008, over fears that the drilling practice may be harmful to water quality. Fracking involves flushing water and chemicals down deep wells to reach natural gas trapped in shale rock formations.

Supporters say fracking is safe with proper regulation, and point to the economic benefits of accessing gas reserves in the Marcellus Shale formation, one of the nation’s largest sources of natural gas. Among those supporters is New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

“The production of shale gas through fracking is the most significant development in the U.S. energy sector in generations, and it affords four major benefits that people on both sides of the debate should welcome,” Bloomberg wrote in an August 2012 op-ed.

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