NY DEC Commissioner Signals Drilling May Not Begin in 2012

In what is surely a blow to landowners in New York, the Commissioner of the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Joe Martens, signaled yesterday that drilling permits may not be issued in 2012 as previously hoped. The delay this time comes from the Hydraulic Fracturing Advisory Panel appointed by Martens and stacked with anti-drilling members who supposedly are there to advise Martens on implementing new regulations to allow shale gas drilling (see this MDN story for background on the panel).

It looks like Martens’ strategy of stacking the panel with anti-drillers has paid off and will now delay shale gas drilling beyond 2012. Martens clearly does not want shale gas drilling to proceed in New York. Will this be the final tipping point before landowners take the state to court to demand their property rights stop being violated?

State Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens raised doubts Tuesday that the state will be ready to issue permits next year for the controversial natural gas drilling technique known as hydrofracking.

Emerging from a meeting of the governor’s advisory panel — assembled to advise the state on how to organize staff and resources needed to oversee a likely drilling boom in the gas-rich Marcellus Shale — Martens said the group will miss its planned Nov. 1 deadline for a report, likely by months.

Hydrofracking opponents on the panel welcomed the news as a sign the state is slowing efforts to have drilling commence next year, while an industry group said it remained optimistic.

Martens said the High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing Advisory Panel still has no estimates on what resources will be needed by four major state agencies: Health, Transportation, Agriculture & Markets, and Public Service.

Without that information, as well as further details on how local governments might be impacted by gas drilling, the panel won’t be able to meet the report deadline set by Gov. Andrew Cuomo when he appointed the group in July.

"The panel will make its report sometime next year, but there is no firm timeline. … Eventually the agencies will submit their information, but I can’t tell you when," Martens said after the panel met behind closed doors for more than three hours at DEC headquarters in Albany.

Asked if a 2012 start to drilling is realistic, Martens said, "That is really hard to predict. There is lot of work left to do."*

*Albany Times Union (Oct 25, 2011) – Drill date ‘hard to predict’

  • Anonymous

    It is just about time for landowners to file suit if this article is remotely true. Joe Martens has been scheming with the anti’s to ban drilling in N.Y. even before the ” SGIES” report, his first delay. Then extending the comment period time for no reason. Now that all the rules, regulations are in place he must come out and just be the radical Joe Martens. Meeting for three hours behind closed doors with every anti-group in NY just resonates disaster for landowners and Drilling companies wanting to secure their land and future here. When has Martens met with  landowners for three hours? Behind closed doors? His job is to be fair with all parties, regardless of his  personal opinions . He has stated  in numerous articles and interviews saying that we must explore and extract this resource in a safe manner. Well its crunch time Mr. Martens, landowners have been patient. Stop wasting time and money( lawsuits). Drilling must proceed safely so the economy can begin to pull out of this mess we have been in for last 5 years.

  • Anonymous

    There is no required timetable for completion of the SEQR process. No laws have been violated by DEC for taking longer than some parties want to complete the SGEIS. Given the depth and scope of the review required (the whole reason for having a generic EIS), it will take substantially longer than a standard, site-specific EIS.

  • Safe drilling is a fallacy. Do you people really trust the oil and gas industry to look out for your well being. Come on down to my neighborhood and have a look around. Everything they say to us is a lie !

  • Where is your neighborhood Rick? I’d like to know, specifically, what drillers have done to damage it. Please share specifics.

  • Anonymous

    As I read it, the principle delay is from the lack of information from Health, DOT, Ag&Market, and Public Service.  Martens in commissioner of none of those departments.

    DEC has fouled-up the permitting of HVHF wells from the beginning, long before Martens became DEC commish.  If DEC had written a comprehensive SGEIS before the statute that set spacing units for shales, then drilling could have begun back in summer of 2008.

    Back than, industry lobbied to proceed in Albany without an SGEIS, rushing the legislation through in June at the end of session.  Environmental groups went balistic when they relized the implications.  They pressed for an SGEIS and an informal moratorium on HVHF, and the new Gov. Paterson agreed. 

    Now the chickens have come home to roost.

  • Anonymous

    I agree. New York State doesn’t need to re-invent the wheel here. There are several states that are doing this now and reaping huge benefits. Look at what’s being done there now and pick the best practices for use in NYS. This is nothing more than politcs as usual and most people are fed up with it. STOP dragging your feet DEC!!

  • Bob_Rosen

    “Will this be the final tipping point before landowners take the state to court to demand their property rights stop being violated?”
    If you think the DEC has violated some law giving a few property owners some inalienable right to turn their entire communities into industrial zones, then go for it! File a lawsuit and see where it gets you.

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  • If I were a betting man Bob, I would bet you will see lawsuits filed in the not too distant future. While you characterize it as “the end of the world” for communities who allow drilling, PA, WV, OH, TX, WY, ND and lots of other states prove you wrong.

  • Anonymous


    Does this sound familiar Mr. Tamburo: …(from Gasland Facebook page)Rick Tamburo:  “This is just the beginning. When does the civil unrest begin. This
    issue needs a Vietnam War style march . I rather get oil from a bunch of
    terrorist on the other side of the earth that give my money to these
    homegrown terrorist !!! I’ll bet they’re not fracking in Tom Corbetts

    This is all in response to the fact you and others did not agree with EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson’s comment concerning the relative safety of hydraulic fracturing.  In fact you appear to be among a group of people who every time things don’t go the way you want, you actually believe people have been bought off.Get real!  Just because you don’t like the outcome of the results, doesn’t mean they were rigged or fixed!!!

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