NY DEC Joe Martens – Another Week, Another Delay in Fracking

go slowNew York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens continues the delay and stall tactics he’s become known for on the issue of shale gas drilling in the state. The latest Martens delay came this week when he asked an outside consulting firm—Ecology & Environment—to take a closer look at costs fracking would create for local communities.

E&E previously did a full-blown economic analysis for the DEC, which was included in proposed new drilling regulations. But the anti-drillers Martens has surrounded himself with on a fracking advisory committee (like members of the Natural Resources Defense Council) say the original analysis was too long on economic benefits (of which there are many!), and too short on the costs local communities will bear when and if fracking is allowed in the state.

Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens said the agency has directed an outside firm to look at the impact the gas industry would have on things like the housing market and emergency services if high-volume hydraulic fracturing is given the go-ahead in New York.

The move came after some members of the DEC’s hydrofracking advisory panel had questioned why a September report by the firm — Buffalo-based Ecology & Environment — went to lengths to highlight the economic benefits of drilling and hydrofracking, but did little to quantify potential costs.

"We provided (Ecology & Environment) with feedback on areas that we’d like them to look at, and I think universally it was felt that some of the specific socioeconomic impacts should be expanded upon," Martens said Tuesday after the panel met behind closed doors.

Eric Goldstein, a senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council and one of 18 members of the DEC’s hydrofracking panel, said the expanded review of the socioeconomic impacts is welcomed news.*

*Elmira Star-Gazette (Dec 20, 2011) – DEC takes closer look at community hydrofracking costs