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DEC extends public comment period on fracking

Zack Seward
The DEC is allowing more time for public comments on its draft hydrofracking regulations. Anti-fracking advocates, like those who attended the fracking public hearing in Dansville earlier this month, have long pushed for a longer comment period.

Bowing to pressure from environmental groups and the public, the state's Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is extending the public comment period on its draft hydrofracking regulations.

The agency announced the move at this afternoon's public hearing in New York City.

"Many individuals and organizations requested additional time to prepare comments," DEC spokeswoman Emily DeSantis said in an email to the Innovation Trail. "We have decided to extend the comment period by 30 days to Jan. 11, [2012]."

DeSantis says the extended deadline for comments won't set back the agency as it prepares its SGEIS on hydrofracking in New York State.

In another email, DeSantis says the agency still plans on "releasing final docs sometime in 2012."

UPDATE (5:24 p.m.)

"Frankly, we're thrilled," says Katherine Nadeau of Environmental Advocates of New York (EANY).

Nadeau says the draft regulations are still "inadequate" - but that the extension of the public comment period is definitely a good thing.

"This is a critical step for the state," says Nadeau. "[It will] allow New Yorkers to really get into this more and weigh in in a very substantive way."

Nadeau was reached at the public hearing in New York City. She says it's similar to the hearings earlier this month in Dansville and Binghamton - but with more star power. Anti-fracking advocates Josh Fox and Mark Ruffalo both spoke at Wednesday's hearing, according to Nadeau.

DEC spokeswoman DeSantis says about 1,000 people attended the afternoon hearing. She says 51 made public comments in the first session.

The second session is scheduled to run from 6 to 9 p.m.

WXXI/Finger Lakes reporter for the Innovation Trail.
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