The state Legislature’s joint budget hearings keep rolling along Monday—and this one is expected to draw a crowd.
State Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joseph Martens is scheduled to testify in front of a panel of lawmakers beginning at 9:30 a.m., with a large contingent of opponents to hydraulic fracturing expected to be on hand. Later, the protesters will head to the state Capitol and hold a rally.
Martens’ appearance is supposed to focus on the state budget, which does not include and regulatory funding or revenues from high-volume hydrofracking—a technique that has been on hold in New York since the Department of Environmental Conservation launched a review in 2008. But Martens is expected to be questioned on the topic by lawmakers, just as he was last year and Health Commissioner Nirav Shah was last week.
Martens’ appearance Monday comes at a critical time for his agency. The DEC faces a Nov. 27 deadline to finalize a set of proposed regulations for fracking. But in order to meet that deadline, its lengthy environmental review may have to be released by Feb. 13.
You can watch the environmental conservation budget hearing below, beginning at 9:30 a.m.: