Senate Democrats are calling on the Department of Environmental Conservation to clarify the agency's communications with the natural gas industry. The DEC emailed with an attorney for the industry about the draft regulations for hydrofracking, and fracking opponents are upset. YNN's Zack Fink has the latest.
STATEWIDE -- The Cuomo administration has been weighing whether or not to allow the controversial gas extraction method, known as hydrofracking, in New York State. Supporters want the economic benefits, opponents said it could pollute water supplies. Now, Democrats are accusing the administration of consulting the industry before certain regulations were made public last September.
"The environmental groups found out that proposed regulations were given to the oil and natural gas companies prior to being given to the public. That's an absolutely disgrace," said Tony Avella, (D) Senate-Queens.
Democratic Senators sent a letter to the state's Department of Environmental Conservation, asking for an explanation of what exactly was shared with the industry before being made public.
"I don't believe they should be given advance notice, they should be given information that wasn't given to the rest of the public, nor that they should have the ability to comment and potentially change those draft regulations," said Liz Krueger, (D) Senate-Manhattan.
The DEC referred us to a letter they wrote last week which said, "DEC provided industry with a summary, not the text, of the draft regulations...those regulations were not changed as a result of the exchanges DEC had with the industry prior to the publication."
"The industry has not proved they can do this safely in New York State. We know that there is not a shortage of natural gas on the marketplace at this time. And we know that the gas will be down there, underneath the marcellus shale forever," said Krueger.
Republicans, who have been largely supportive of hydrofracking, argue that it will bring jobs. However, the counter-argument to that is that any jobs created would be temporary. The companies would come in, drill, extract their natural gas, than move on. The towns that are in favor of this though, said any economic impact, even a minimal one, would be welcome.