ALBANY — The state’s much-anticipated report on high-volume hydraulic fracturing has grown to about 4,000 pages, but it’s still not ready for release, New York’s top environmental regulator said Tuesday.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation has already compiled “a couple thousand” pages of responses to issues raised during a pair of public-comment periods on draft reports, Commissioner Joe Martens said in an interview Gannett’s Albany Bureau.
A September draft was 1,537 pages long, including appendices.
“It’s almost hard to comprehend, but when I tell people that we’ve been working non-stop and working really hard, people have been,” Martens said. “But all of that has to be reviewed and reviewed by executive staff who are administering the agency day-to-day, doing all of the other responsibilities they had before hydrofracking even started.”
There is still more work to be done, he said, and there is no firm timetable on when a final report may be released. High-volume hydrofracking is on hold in New York until it is complete.
Martens’ comments come as several environmental groups say they’ve been told in recent weeks by DEC officials of certain aspects of a potential plan to allow hydrofracking, in which a small amount of permits would be issued in Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Steuben and Tioga counties.
When asked about recent reports detailing that plan, Martens said they amounted to “speculation.” Everything is under consideration and nothing is final, he said.
“Virtually all of those things that were written about were ideas that were generated by organizations or individuals that responded to comments,” Martens said. “So are we considering them? We’re considering them because we have to respond to them.”
He continued: “We have to have answers to suggestions and comments that people made through the public-comment period. So we are looking at geographies, we’re looking at the number of applications, what we can handle. We’re trying to come up with a rational plan that works.” Read More Here