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Missed deadline could jeopardize N.Y. fracking approval

The approval of a controversial method of natural gas extraction may be delayed in New York, as the state Department of Environmental Conservation tries to come up with new rules governing the process.

A story in the Albany Times Union reports that state regulators have a Nov. 29 deadline to come up with draft rules for hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as “fracking.” But a DEC decision last month to add a review by the state Department of Health may delay the process to a point where the regulators miss that deadline.

Fracking is a drilling technique that involves injecting a high-pressure mix of chemicals, sand and water deep underground to break up gas-bearing rocks.

Drillers in New York are eager to exploit the Marcellus Shale – a gas-rich underground formation that extends into New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. But a vocal coalition of opponents in New York, like their counterparts in other states, warn that the procedure can harm air, water and public health.

Fracking water contains toxic chemicals including the carcinogen benzene, and heath and environmental activists worry that it will contaminate the region’s drinking water supply.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is awaiting the results of a DEC review that began in 2008 before deciding whether to allow high-volume fracking in New York. According to the Times Union, a missed deadline may require the state to begin the process over again.

The Times Union quotes Rob Moore, director of Environmental Advocates of New York, a group opposed to fracking, as saying that a health study rushed to meet the deadline would not be credible.

“I don’t see how all of that can get done in eight weeks, unless DOH is just going to rubber-stamp what DEC has already done,” Moore said.

Lopez McHugh is investigating injuries related to natural gas extraction in the Marcellus Shale natural gas reserve. If you have significant injuries, contact a Lopez McHugh attorney for a free evaluation.

See the story here:

http://online.wsj.com/article/AP9338b890dda8431887aa0daf6ff1b191.html