Comments from NY DEC Joe Martens on Timing of New Drilling Regulations – And an MDN Prediction

Drilling in the Marcellus Shale in New York State has been on hold now for more than two years. Last year, the State Department of Environmental Conservation (“DEC”) issued new draft guidelines for drilling, but fierce opposition arose from some, including powerful people in the state like New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and so the DEC retreated from its plan to move forward. Then-Gov. David Paterson issued an executive order late last year placing a moratorium on drilling until June 1 of this year to give the DEC more time.

Since the Paterson moratorium went into effect, New York has installed a new governor (Andrew Cuomo), and a new head of the DEC (Joe Martens). As MDN has chronicled, Mr. Martens was a loud voice against drilling before he was appointed to head the DEC (see here). He now seems to be singing a different tune and has made noises about moving forward with drilling. A few weeks ago in an interview with National Public Radio, he said that the new Marcellus Shale drilling regulations should  be ready sometime “this summer,” giving new hope to landowners in the state.

We now have a bit more information about just how long this will be dragged out for New Yorkers.

In an executive order before he left office, former Gov. David Paterson directed the DEC to complete a second draft of its drilling guidelines — the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement — "on or about June 1." Martens said Wednesday that wasn’t a hard deadline and the work would likely continue through the summer. Then, there will be a public comment period of at least 30 days.

"We have to figure out just how long we want to make that comment period," said Martens, who believes gas drilling in the Marcellus is the most daunting issue the DEC has faced in its 40-year history. "If our revisions are extensive, and I think they will be, we’ll allow more time for public comment. Then we’ll take time to digest those comments before we put out a final document that will be the basis for the regulatory program."*

Martens also does not rule out throwing out the existing draft and starting over again.

"Some people say we should reopen the process. We’re looking at all of that," Martens said. "We’re trying to solicit and digest all the information we can and put it into a document that addresses all the concerns raised to date. It’s a really formidable task."*

Reading between the lines, MDN expects the new draft regulations to be released around the end of August or beginning of September. Then, a generous 60 days of public comment. Then the DEC has to think some more about it. End result: We’re now looking at 2012 before drilling will begin.

*Elmira Star-Gazette (Mar 31, 2011) – DEC chief: Gas-drilling review likely to run through summer

  • tke65

    NY would be crazy to pass this

  • Dscorp11

    My first, gut reaction is “come on already what the H_ _ _ is wrong with you people; this is the best thing that could happen for NY. However after waiting sooo long, I am thankful that we finally have politicians in Albany that are using their brain…This appears to be the closest thus far to have them approve drilling. My fingers are crossed!

  • GAP725

    Start drilling already. What is wrong with everyone??? This is the best thing that could happen to New York, stop stalling alreadu and start drilling. A geologist just went on record stating he did a study for 3 years and there was no pollution to the water the way everyone is stating. Doesnt everyone want economic growth????

  • Rick Ryan

    Drilling in NYS should never take place.  We do not need to make a small handful of people rich, while the rest of the state suffers.

  • Tom Roughneck

    @ rick- let’s just over turn common law all the way back to the magna carta! Let the mob rule -anarchy for all western democracies. Workers of the world unite – to hell with property owners rights confiscate their land to be FAIR to all leftist bums in NY!

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