ALBANY — New York Department of Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens is refuting charges his agency has abandoned its scientific integrity when considering allowing gas drilling — including hydraulic fracturing — in the Empire State. “We will shortly determine whether natural gas drilling can proceed while protecting public health and the environmental values New Yorkers embrace,” Martens wrote in a letter to the Albany Times-Union Tuesday.
The DEC has been criticized by opponents of fracking as listening more to those wanting gas drilling in New York. Recent reports suggest the agency will take a lead role in allowing limited drilling with a decision announced perhaps as soon as September. Noting the DEC’s latest draft environmental impact statement takes “a cautious, measured approach,” Martens added “thanks to extensive public input, DEC is making further revisions to the statement.” The DEC’s review of fracking in New York has grown to 4,000 pages, according to Politics on the Hudson.
Martens also responded to environmental activist Bill McKibben’s comments asking “Is the DEC up to a fracking review?” The DEC head agreed any decision on allowing fracking must be based on science. ”That is exactly what the state Department of Environmental Conservation has been doing.”