It appears the State of New York is likely to miss a deadline to establish hydraulic fracturing regulations, and if so, this will significantly delay a determination of whether or not the controversial fuel-extraction process will be allowed in the state.
According to several media reports, it appears New York State will probably miss the Nov. 29 deadline to decide whether or not hydraulic fracturing, also known as "fracking", will become legal. If this occurs, the process goes back to square one with a need to draft new rules and reopen the timeframe for public comment, reported Bloomberg.
The reason for the delay is related to additional studies being conducted, and it is uncertain how long this will take.
“We are working with the Department of Health right now on questions like the scope of the health review, and we haven’t made any decisions on whether or not we’ll meet the deadline for the regulations,” Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joseph Martens said earlier this week, reported Bloomberg. “If we complete the process, we’ll finalize the regulations. It really depends on the timetable for the health review.”
Meanwhile, the fracking debaters continue to clash in New York State, but there is one thing both sides may perhaps agree on, and that is a decision. At this point, both opponents and advocates of fracking appear to feel the state is sitting on the fence where fracking is concerned.
Environmentalists have been fighting to have the process banned, while leaseholders want the decision to move forward so they can start profiting from their investments.
Some say Gov. Andrew Cuomo is delaying for political purposes while others, such as this piece in the New York Post, suggest he never intended to legalize the fracking process in the first place.
Protestors arrived on Capitol Hill in summer 2012. Many came from New York and aimed their messages at Gov. Cuomo who has to make the decision of whether or not to allow fracking in N.Y.
At this point, environmentalists are said to be "cautiously optimistic". According to North County Public Radio, the governor said the health review is in response to environmentalists opposing fracking who requested an outside survey. Gov. Cuomo said these studies will mitigate legal obstacles down the road.
“It will be a stronger review to withstand a legal challenge,” Cuomo explained.
Reportedly, the governor also said in regards to fracking, “There is no step back."
If the November deadline is missed, this will delay fracking for approximately another year or two.
Over the summer, Digital Journal reported thousands of protestors traveled to Capitol Hill to attend the "Stop the Frack Attack" rally and march. There were several groups at the protests carrying signs aimed at Gov. Cuomo with messages such as "Don't frack N.Y." and "Governor Cuomo, We'll remember in 2014. No fracking".
The governor is up for re-election in 2014, and there have also been speculations he may be positioning himself for a 2016 presidential run.
How New York handles the fracking issue remains to be seen.