Martens Blames Other State Agencies for Delay in NY Drilling

finger pointingNow that New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens has let the cat out of the bag that Marcellus and Utica Shale drilling permits will likely not be issued in 2012, the mainstream media has come along to prop him up with excuse stories for why New York will continue to delay drilling—to give Martens political cover for the coming firestorm. The simple fact is, the longer drilling is delayed,  the more likely it will never happen—and anti-drillers know it. MDN believes these delays are by design, not an “aw shucks, things are jest turnin’ out this way” as Mr. Martens wants us to believe.

And so Gannett comes out with a story that blames other state agencies for the delay, because Martens’ hand-picked Hydraulic Fracturing Advisory Panel, stacked with anti-drillers, wants other agencies to do its work:

An initial set of state-level proposals had originally been expected next month so it could be included in the state budget process that starts in January, but Martens said the panel would be given "all the time it needs."

The move was welcomed by most of the panel, in part because they’re still looking for critical information about what kind of resources state agencies will need to properly oversee the gas industry if high-volume hydrofracking is green-lighted in New York.

"The panel is asking a lot of very important questions," said Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, D-Endwell, who sits on the committee. "One whole set of issues has to do with state resources and what agencies besides DEC are going to need to provide additional staffing and equipment, and those numbers haven’t come back to us yet."

The state Public Service Commission and Health, Transportation and Agriculture departments have all submitted less-detailed reports, which were distributed to panelists and obtained in recent weeks by Gannett’s Albany Bureau.

But while the reports gave a broad overview of the new work each agency would have to do, committee members said they need more meticulous estimates — including the number of positions needed and how much it will cost — before they can issue recommendations on how the state can pay for it.

Martens said Tuesday the agencies would be making those figures available to the panel at some point.

"Eventually, they will," Martens told reporters. "I can’t say when."

A spokesman for the state Department of Health said in an e-mail Wednesday that he "cannot provide a time" for when the agency’s estimates will be submitted.*

Perhaps most distressing is the response from one of only two drilling industry representatives that sit on the 13-member advisory panel:

Mark Boling, executive vice president of Houston-based Southwestern Energy and one of two industry representatives on the panel, said Wednesday he welcomed the DEC’s decision to slow the committee’s work down.

He said he’s not concerned about its potential to delay the state’s hydrofracking approval process.

"That’s not a concern for me at all because I think that (the DEC’s decision) is the right thing to do to make sure it gets done right," Boling said. "If we start moving on in the process and we find out that a lot of folks feel like it was not done properly because it was rushed, that doesn’t help industry or the public."*

With friends like these…

*Elmira Star-Gazette (Oct 26, 2011) – Hydrofracking panel stalled over unanswered questions