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Oneida County Legislature Urges Cuomo, DEC To Extend Fracking Comment Period

Bosc d’Anjou, flickr

Utica, NY (WIBX) – The Oneida County Legislature is urging the Governor to extend the 30-day public comment period regarding the controversial topic of high volume hydraulic fracturing, or as it’s commonly referred to as “hydrofracking.”

On December 12th, Governor Andrew Cuomo and Department of Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens opened a 30-day public comment period on the topic. But, several key pieces of information, including health and economic impact assessments, have yet to be released.

Chad Davis is a Democrat serving the Village of Clinton. He and Republican legislator, Brian Miller, co-sponsored a petition to ask for a 60-day extension to the period, so they can fairly review and discuss their options.

“It seems like whether you’re for or against hydrofracking, it seems that having it properly mitigated, if it’s to go forward, should be conducted,” Davis said. “It’s the right thing to have at least the thing studied properly and the comments go forward properly. Then when the DEC makes its decision at least everybody will have a fair shake in terms of opining it and giving their comment on this technology.”

The comment period is set to end Friday at 5 p.m. But, on Wednesday, the Legislature voted unanimously to ask for another 60 days. Davis says the comment period fell during an awkward period, when people weren’t entirely focused.

“This last 30 day period… happened during Christmas and New Year’s and there was a lot going on in people’s lives, to get around this comment period and actually address things from the DEC.”

Davis also says that the two most important pieces to the puzzle – the health and economic impact assessments – have not been fully released yet, casting an even larger pall on the situation.

He says in its place were 338 pages of revised regulatory framework, but that offers little assistance to a county where many towns use public water sources, including the Village of Clinton.

“The State seems to listen to the whims of the gas companies, some of which are not based here in New York, and there’s a gas glut on the market,” Davis said. “To go forward right now without a full, complete study would be not right. There are a lot of issues still outstanding. There’s no need to rush the drill. The EPA will come out with a study in 2014 on the impacts of hydrofracking on water sources, and I think at a minimum, we should wait for the EPA study to be completed.”

Currently, there is a state moratorium on all fracking throughout the state.

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