December 15, 2012

Albany Hearing Jan 10

The announcement just published by Sen. Bob Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst) Chairman of the Assembly Committee on Environmental Conservation, is a light in the tunnel for New Yorkers.  Full transparency on the health affects of the fracking process require our utmost attention.  Any potential chemical hazard could have effects in our environment for years beyond our lifetime.  These are not situations that are solved by regulation after the fact.  A spill is a spill.  Such hazards are not worth the short term economic benefit some would receive and must be avoided completely by instituting a ban on fracking.

Assembly to Hold Fracking Hearing

Assemblyman Bob Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst), Chairman of the Assembly Committee on Environmental Conservation, announced that the Committee, in conjunction with Richard N. Gottfried, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Health and Charles D. Lavine, Assembly Chair of the Administrative Regulations Review Commission, will be holding a hearing to receive comment on the High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing regulations proposed by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

The decision to hold the hearing results from DEC’s release of revised High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing regulations. The hearing is scheduled as follows:

Albany - Legislative Office Building, 2nd Floor
Hamilton Hearing Room B Thursday, January 10, 2013, 9:30 a.m.

The Committees and Commission recently issued a letter to the DEC Commissioner stressing the need to address concerns about potential health impacts. “As we have indicated repeatedly, protection of human health and the environment remain our top priority.” The letter also requested the withdrawal of the regulations until a meaningful health impact assessment, complete with public involvement, was conducted. “We continue to believe that the regulations should not be issued until after a thorough, professional health impact assessment is completed.”

In addition, the letter requested additional information and a comment period of at least 60 days. “The current comment period – the mere minimum required by law – is insufficient, given the sheer size of the regulations, the numerous revisions and the complexity of the issues.”

The complexity of the review process is compounded by the absence of the originally-proposed regulations on the website. “In order to provide meaningful comments about what changes were made to the regulations you have to know what was originally proposed. The Department has removed the original proposal from the website, making a comparison impossible unless the document was previously saved or printed.”

The revised regulations are also different in formatting style from the original, with new text no longer underlined in certain cases, making a line by line comparison time consuming and difficult. “Unfortunately even those who printed or saved the regulations will still have to deal with the change in editing format.”

“The bottom line is that none of these factors encourage public involvement or lead to an open, transparent process. New Yorkers deserve better.”
This would be a great time to write to Assemblyman Sweeney to thank him for his prudent action. 

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