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Friday Deadline Looms for New York Fracking Report

With time running out, New York officials say the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is "working full-time" to complete its supplemental generic environmental impact statement (SGEIS) on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) by a Friday deadline.

"We're still working on it, so stay tuned," DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens told reporters in Albany on Tuesday. "Hopefully we can be done by the deadline. We'll tell you later in the week whether we're going to meet the deadline or not."

But Martens added that he was "not promising" that the SGEIS would be done by Friday.

"We're going great guns right now," Martens said. "We're working on it full-time. [Friday] is what we're aiming for right now."

Cherie Messore, spokeswoman for the Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York (IOGA), declined to predict whether the DEC would make the deadline or not.

"We are anxious to see what the results of the SGEIS will be," Messore told NGI's Shale Daily on Wednesday. "We're looking forward to review it. We're always a fan of tough but fair regulatory structure."

Katherine Nadeau of Environmental Advocates of New York told NGI's Shale Daily that the group was "eagerly anticipating what comes out on Friday," but said Martens and other press outlets were indicating that the entire report would not be finished in time.

"We are looking forward to seeing what the department issues and we'll get into the substance of that right away," Nadeau said Wednesday. "We're looking for [Gov. Andrew Cuomo] to really be a leader on this issue, to make sure that DEC's proposed guidelines are as strong and as strict as possible.

"He was a great leader on gay marriage in New York, now is his opportunity to be a great leader on drilling to make sure that all of our waterways are protected before any [drilling] is allowed to begin."

On June 6 the New York Assembly passed a bill that would have limited fracking, but it was referred to the state Senate Environmental Conservation Committee and was not taken up for a vote before the legislative session ended last Friday. The bill, A7400, would have prohibited fracking until June 1, 2012 (see Shale Daily, June 8).

Last December former Gov. David Paterson vetoed a bill similar to A7400, which would have codified into law a moratorium on fracking through May 15 (see Shale Daily, Dec. 14, 2010). At the same time he extended the deadline for the DEC to complete the SGEIS until July 1.

In late May state officials made another push for the study to be completed by the deadline, and also ordered regulators to visit the site of a Chesapeake Energy Corp. well blowout, which occurred in April in northeast Pennsylvania (see Shale Daily, June 1; April 25).

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