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Local officials challenge latest fracking deadline

A group called Elected Officials to Protect New York is pressing Gov. Andrew Cuomo to extend a 30-day public comment period that ends Friday. The comment period is for revised hydrofracking regulations released by the Department of Environmental Conservation in November.

Among the group's members are Martha Robertson, chair of the Tompkins County Legislature, Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan and Elmira Mayor Sue Skidmore.

According to Robertson, 565 officials are signed on, at least one from each county, and the 30-day comment period has shut them out of this stage in the process

“We are the governments that are going to have to implement this industry, we’re going to have to deal with the industry, with the impact on roads and housing and crime and property values and mortgages and all the rest of it,” says Robertson.

She says local governments were not given time for a full review.

"So we start with the staff looking at it, legislators look at the document, then the committee talks about it, we develop a draft, then we have public comment on it, then it goes to the full legislature. That takes time."

The group is calling for 90-days of comment to give local governments time to respond to the regulations.

The new, 30-day public comment period on revised regulations began in December because state procedure includes a one year deadline for proposed regulations to become final. Proposed hydrofracking regulations were originally released in late 2011. The one-year deadline passed at the end of November, 2012, and the Department of Environmental Conservation released revised regulations to secure a 90-day extension of the deadline.

The DEC seems unlikely to extend the commenting deadline. In an e-mailed response to the extension request, agency spokesperson Emily DeSantis said:

New York's review of high-volume hydraulic fracturing has provided extensive and ample opportunity for the public to review and comment. The 90-day extension includes a second, 30-day comment period on the draft regulations to allow DEC adequate time to review, consider and prepare responses to all comments received.

Editor: The Joint Landowners Coalition of New York Inc. issued a press release Monday afternoon saying that it was time to 'end the delay tactics' and move forward with HVHF in the state.

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