NY DEC Chief Martens Says Fracking Can be Done Safely

Finally, one thing that Joe Martens has said publicly that MDN fully agrees with. Martens, for those new to the drilling debate in New York, is the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation—the organization that is tasked with regulating oil and gas drilling in the state. Martens is also the former long-time president of the Open Spaces Institute, an organization dedicated to stopping development of land. Strange choice by Andy Cuomo to run the organization tasked with developing the state’s land. But whatever.

Here’s what Martens said at a conference yesterday in New York City:

“I don’t think there’s going to be a flood of drillers coming into New York,” Martens said at a conference at Columbia Law School in New York City. “The reality is, with the price of natural gas so low, that if we put out the regulations and move forward with the process in New York it will start slowly.”*

MDN concurs. Drilling will happen, but it’s not going to be a rush of drilling. It will be slow—too slow.

And once again, Martens is dragging his feet. He’s using the excuse that some 66,000+ public comments filed on the latest version of the proposed new drilling regulations (the vast majority of them form letter comments) are just taking so darned long to read, it will still be “months” before they’re done. He’s been saying it will take months—for  months.

Martens said nothing submitted in public comments on the proposed rule suggests fracking should be banned. Draft guidelines released in July proposed buffer zones between wells and water sources such as the aquifer that supplies New York City.

“The conclusion at the end of the draft was that we could do this safely in New York, and I haven’t seen anything yet to change that conclusion,” Martens said.

The review will take months to complete, Martens said.*

Perhaps the one glimmer of hope is that he is publicly saying he thinks fracking can be safely done—although his actions speak much more loudly than his words.

*Bloomberg (May 23, 2012) – Fracking Boom Seen Slow to Develop in New York, Regulator Says