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New York officials seek delay on fracking decision

The New York Department of Conservation wants an extension for releasing a new set of rules that would regulate the controversial natural gas extraction method called “hydraulic fracturing” or “fracking.”

The department originally had a Nov. 29 deadline to release the new regulations. But state officials announced their intention to file for a 90-day extension, which the Albany Times Union says could ultimately push back the final release by as much as six months.

Drillers who use fracking pump large volumes of water underground to break up rock formations and release natural gas. The fracking water contains toxic chemicals, including the carcinogen benzene, and activists are worried that it might contaminate the ground water in areas where the drilling occurs.

New York contains a portion of the Marcellus Shale, which is a gas-rich underground rock formation that also extends into Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. Some New York property owners along the Marcellus Shale have been calling on state government to ease restrictions on fracking, so they can make money off drilling operations like their counterparts in other states.

But opponents such as the Concerned Health Professionals of New York have raised concerns about everything from contaminated drinking water to increased truck traffic around drilling sites.

The Times Union reports that the most recent delay was prompted by DEC Commissioner Joe Martens’ decision in September to have the state Department of Health review the health impact component of the new regulations. Environmental activists have been pushing for that component of the regulations to be authored or at least reviewed by an independent entity.

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 attorneyfor a free evaluation.

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