Instead of caving to pressure from oil and gas industry lobbyists, the State will allow experts the time they need to study health impacts associated with fracking, before new regulations are finalized. Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a controversial technique in which gas drillers blast millions of gallons of water mixed with toxic chemicals into the ground to extract gas from hard-to-reach deposits deep in the earth.
Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joseph Martens issued a statement today announcing that updated regulations governing the practice will be finalized only when outside health experts have concluded their work. Earlier in the process, the state had signaled that updated fracking regulations would have to be finalized later this month—a rushed timetable that would not have allowed the health experts’ findings to be incorporated into the final regulations.
The following is a statement from Earthjustice Managing Attorney Deborah Goldberg:
“We commend the state’s common sense approach. The public health impacts of the fracking-enabled gas drilling rush must be fully studied and understood before the State decides whether to move forward. The stakes are too high and the consequences are too serious, as our neighbors in Pennsylvania know only too well. Today, our leaders in New York were faced with a choice: They could rush to meet an arbitrary technical deadline or allow medical experts the time they need to better protect public health from fracking. They chose wisely.
“That being said, Commissioner Martens signaled today that some fracking permits could still be issued on a case-by-case basis under the 40-year-old regulations still on the books. Needless to say, the state would be on extremely shaky legal ground should it choose that course.”