The state Department of Environmental Conservation officially submitted a set of eight documents yesterday, clearing the way for a revised set of hydrofracking proposals to be made public Dec. 12.
The papers — which include a broad review of some of the 66,000 comments submitted on the DEC’s first set of proposed regulations — were filed yesterday with the Department of State, buying the DEC an extra 90 days to finalize their rules but requiring them to be open to public comment for 30 days.
The documents were obtained this morning by Gannett’s Albany Bureau.
At first glance, it’s not entirely clear what new information is included. The DEC submitted a summary of both the newly revised regulation proposals as well as an “assessment” of the thousands of public comments received so far on the review, but they are often written without specifics.
Here’s a sample from the response to public comments, defending the DEC’s proposals for “setbacks” — the required distance between a gas well and homes, schools, water supplies and the like:
“Setbacks were developed as an effective risk management tool to protect water resources in the event of a spill. In this regard, each setback reflects the magnitude of the potential risk or harm. In developing the setbacks, the Department considered the designated use of the resource, such as drinking water supply (and in such cases, population served).”
A quick refresher: The DEC had faced a deadline of today to act on its proposed regulations for large-scale hydrofracking, the controversial method used with natural-gas drilling. The agency announced this week that it would seek a 90-day extension to that deadline, which requires it to put out an updated, revised set of proposals for public comment.
Those revised proposals are expected to be made public by Dec. 12, when the 30-day comment period is expected to be triggered.
Here’s the DEC’s assessment of public comments, as submitted to the Department of State: