A new panel made up of natural gas drillers, environmentalists and government officials has begun to advise New York's Department of Environmental Conservation about the controversial natural gas drilling technique known as fracking.
Health department officials said during a recent meeting of the 17-member advisory panel that it's important to collect data and information on the effects of fracking on drinking water before drilling begins.
"We are going to have an active process where we do evaluations before drilling occurs, not on public health, per se, but on the quality of drinking water," said DEC commissioner Joe Martens.
The impact on drinking water is one of the most common concerns among fracking opponents.
Martens said that both private and public drinking water supplies near potential well sites will be tested before drilling permits are issued.
The DEC recently released the final draft of its fracking regulations. The department will accept public comments on the proposed rules until December 12.