The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) says it has received more than 800 responses so far on proposed rules governing high-volume hydraulic fracturing (HVHF), as the final 11 days of a 30-day public comment period tick away.

Meanwhile, 37 elected officials added their signatures to a letter written by an anti-fracking group to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, urging him to unilaterally extend the public comment period at least another 60 days, for a total of at least 90 days.

DEC spokeswoman Lisa King told NGI’s Shale Daily on Monday that the agency has so far received 837 comments. Of those, 447 were submitted by mail and 390 were received online. But that total is well short of the record 20,800 responses the agency received during the last public comment period for HVHF, which began in September 2011 and ended in January 2012 (see Shale Daily, Jan. 12, 2012; Sept. 29, 2011).

The current 30-day public comment period began Dec. 12 and is scheduled to conclude at 5 p.m. EST on Jan. 11 (see Shale Daily, Dec. 12, 2012). It started shortly after the DEC released 90 pages of documents outlining its proposals, which include a ban on drilling with HVHF within the New York City and Syracuse watersheds, an adjacent 4,000-foot buffer zone, and within 500 feet of private drinking water wells (see Shale Daily, Dec. 3, 2012).

In a Dec. 21 letter to Cuomo, the group Elected Officials to Protect New York (EOPNY) argued that a 30-day public comment period was insufficient.

“While these revised rules are designed in part to protect local governments from the impacts of fracking…most local governments will be unable to respond at all to these critical regulations,” EOPNY said. “Many municipalities do not even meet between now and Jan. 11. Such a short comment period, especially during a period of major religious and national holidays, is inadequate for any reasonable public review of such extensive regulations.”

Last month, three key lawmakers — New York State Assemblymen Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan), Robert Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst) and Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove) — made a similar appeal to DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens, but they asked for the public comment period to be extended to 60 days total. The three had not signed the most recent EOPNY letter.

A series of delays in the environmental review has kept a moratorium on HVHF in place since 2008 (see Daily GPI, July 28, 2008).