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State must move faster

November 25, 2012
The Leader Herald

If New York state wants to be "Open for Business," it needs to cut down on the time it takes to get regulations in place.

As an example, Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently said a health impact review of shale gas drilling by national experts will make it impossible to meet an upcoming deadline for new high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, regulations. That could push a long-delayed decision of the contentious issue into 2013.

Fracking could be a tremendous boon, or burden, for state residents. Fracking stimulates a well's production by injecting huge volumes of chemical-laced water to crack gas-rich shale deposits. The money the gas brings in would help property owners and gas companies. Increasing the supply of natural gas would allow consumers to benefit from lower prices.

However, opponents of fracking are concerned the process could lead to dangerous chemicals getting into drinking water.

The Department of Environmental Conservation has been doing an environmental impact study and drafting new regulations for fracking since 2008. Drilling has been on hold since then amid concerns surrounding fracking.

The deadline for finalizing regulations is Thursday under the state Administrative Procedures Act, which says a proposed rule expires 365 days after the last public hearing unless it's officially adopted by then. If the regulation isn't finalized by the deadline, the agency has 90 days to submit a new notice of rulemaking, and another 90 days to complete the job. That could potentially delay a final decision for six months. The public would have the opportunity to comment during that time.

A panel of three nationally recognized public health experts was named last week to review the state's health impact study of fracking.

We are not qualified to determine how safe fracking is or what effect it will have on the environment.

The DEC has been looking at fracking since 2008. How long does it take to determine how the state can best regulate something which is already allowed in other states?

While this is an egregious example of the state taking its time to do business, the state has never been known for moving quickly.

That needs to change. Taxpayers deserve a state government that not only does due diligence when looking into an issue, but does so in a timely manner.



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