On Jan. 11, 2012, the New York State DEC closed its extended comment period to proposed regulations for hydraulic fracking in New York. The DEC now moves into the final decision-making process regarding fracking in New York. For the last few months, the DEC has held state-wide hearings and received a tens of thousands of comments from environmental groups, towns, citizens and the business community.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency’s last-minute submission to the DEC is among the most notable. In it, the EPA proposed over two dozen suggestions and it strongly encouraged the DEC to provide comprehensive regulatory oversight of fracking. Specifically, the EPA suggested an outright ban on fracking near major water supplies. The EPA also suggested that the DEC’s final analysis include a review of radioactive material from fracking waste-product, which has been a reported issue in Pennsylvania. The EPA’s submission also included language that both pro and anti-fracking groups could cite to in the ongoing fracking debate. For example, the EPA’s cover letter to the DEC stated that natural gas will play a “key role in our nation’s clean energy future.”
Also, the City of New York submitted its comments to the DEC asking that all drilling be kept at least seven miles from New York City water conduits. The City’s comments reflect concerns for possible seismic activity on water tunnels. Some have claimed that seismic activity in Arkansas, Ohio and Oklahoma is associated with fracking.
The DEC is expected to issue its final regulations this year.