Appalachian Basin

On, Off, On, Off, On Again: Cuomo Does Natural Gas Dance

NOTE: This post was cross-posted on MDN

New York DEC is now extending its original deadline in a bizarre on-off-on-off-on again natural gas regulation dance.  Trying to understand where the Governor is at any given moment requires a Ouija board or some other tool of the occult arts.  Jim Willis of Marcellus Drilling News had this to say about the whole thing this morning.

It’s official: The New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will file for a 90-day extension on the rulemaking process for hydraulic fracturing. Although it would be better for the DEC to just release the new rules now, before tomorrow (Nov. 29), at least the process is still alive, albeit now delayed. Still, given the current climate in New York, MDN takes it as good news for landowners and a signal that natural gas development may indeed yet come to the Empire State.

Here’s how it all came down yesterday, with Gov. Andrew Cuomo admitting to reporters that the DEC will “have to” file for an extension:

Reporter: “Governor, just very quickly on the fracking issue: Are you going to apply for an extension on the 29th?”

Cuomo: “We are not going to be able to — the state won’t finish the review by the 29th.”

Reporter: “Will you apply for an extension by that deadline?”

Cuomo: “They will have to.”

Shortly after Cuomo’s admission, the DEC, who has refused to answer any questions about an extension for the past two weeks, rushed out a statement saying this:

“DEC will file a notice for a 90-day extension allowed by state law to continue to work as (Health Commissioner Nirav Shah’s) health review of the SGEIS comes to completion.”

Utopian enviro-leftists opposed to all fossil fuels are not happy, as you can imagine. In fact, a group of them had gathered in Albany yesterday to urge Cuomo not to commit to a 90-day extension, just as he was doing so:

On Tuesday, a group of health professionals led by David Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany’s School of Public Health, launched a new initiative on the health risks of shale gas development. They urged Gov. Andrew Cuomo not to commit to a 90-day extension but instead allow the proposed regulations to expire and draft new ones based on a comprehensive health impact assessment.

Kate Sinding of the Natural Resources Defense Council said it would be a “monumental error” for DEC to file for a 90-day extension, which would require it to release revised proposed regulations within a couple of weeks, before any recommendations of the health experts could be incorporated. Instead, she said DEC should allow the regulations to expire and propose new ones after the health review is completed.

The Joint Landowners Coalition of New York issued the following statement upon hearing of Cuomo’s decision to move forward with an extension:

The Joint Landowners Coalition of New York (JLCNY) issued the following statement regarding the Governor’s announcement that the Department of Environmental Conservation will apply for a 90-day extension to promulgate regulations for high-volume hydraulic fracturing.

“The Joint Landowners Coalition of New York and our 77,000 landowners are cautiously optimistic that Governor Cuomo’s recent announcement signals that an end is in sight to the  over four and a half year long regulatory process for high-volume hydraulic fracturing.  We are encouraged that the Governor and DEC have a plan to avoid expiration of the regulatory review process.

“New York landowners, farmers, businesses and taxpayers hope that New York can finally bring an end to this process and begin realizing the environmental and economic opportunities enjoyed by our neighboring Marcellus Shale states.”

Where do things go from here? Some insight on what’s next:

The deadline applies to the state’s proposed regulations for overseeing fracking, the controversial method for extracting natural gas from underground formations such as the Marcellus Shale. Receiving an extension isn’t as simple as asking for one.

In order to extend the date by 90 days, state law requires the DEC to issue an updated set of proposals, as well as an “assessment” of the thousands of comments received on the first draft. In addition, the new set of proposals has to be opened to public comment for at least 30 days.

When asked in an email if the DEC plans to issue those documents before the deadline, DeSantis declined to comment.

So, you’re guess is as good as mine.  Meanwhile, pardon me, but I have to check something…

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Ouija Board

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