In an interesting development, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has sent along marching orders to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to complete the next version of the draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (dSGEIS)—the new guidelines to be used in drilling in the Marcellus Shale in New York—by July 1st. The previous deadline was a soft deadline issued by former Gov. David Paterson of “on or about June 1st.” The new deadline issued by Cuomo is July 1st—no waffling. Cuomo has also instructed the DEC to visit a well blowout site in Bradford County, PA to see what can be learned and incorporated into the final document from that accident.
In the memo sent Friday to Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joseph Martens, Director of State Operations Howard Glaser ordered the department to complete an on-site inspection of the Bradford County, Pa. gas well, and to include any information from the site in the DEC’s environmental review of hydrofracking.
Glaser also asked for a second draft of that review, called the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement, to be "completed for issuance by July 1, 2011," marking the first hard deadline placed on the DEC’s hydrofracking study since it was launched in July 2008.*
Newly appointed Commissioner Martens previously said the new draft guidelines would be completed “by the end of summer,” but it seems Cuomo was not happy with that squishy deadline and has decided to give the DEC a metaphorical kick in the rear. No one really knows where Cuomo comes down on the issue of drilling, but this is certainly a good omen for those who support drilling in the state.
Cuomo’s actions don’t sit well with those who oppose drilling and whose primary tactic is to delay the start of it for as long as possible in hopes they can muster support for an outright ban:
"We’re pleased that Governor Cuomo recognizes the potential dangers of dirty gas drilling by means of hydraulic fracturing … and the lessons to be learned from Pennsylvania’s abysmal track record," said David Gahl, policy director of Environmental Advocates of New York. "However, (we think) the DEC should take all the time the agency needs to study and address fracking’s health and environmental risks and not be bound to an arbitrary deadline to release the revised draft" of the review.*
*Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin (May 29, 2011) – Cuomo’s office expands fracking review, sets July 1 end date