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The Empire

Hydrofracking review on 'no firm timetable': DEC Commish Martens

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By Karen DeWitt, New York Public Radio Capital Bureau Chief

The state’s environmental agency is putting the brakes on the process to approve hydrofracking on some private lands in New York, now that a key advisory panel will miss a November 1 deadline to issue a report.

The State’s Environmental Commissioner Joe Martens said the report from the advisory committee—made up of industry, environmental and community representatives—will not be issued next month, partly because data on costs from hydrofracking to other state agencies, like the departments of health and transportation, aren’t ready yet.

Martens said “there’s been a little bit of a change in plans” and that the panel will be meeting through January of 2012 to try to issue a report that will also contain costs to local governments , as well as state costs.

“There’s no firm timetable,” Martens said.

Martens says the data on the potential costs of hydrofracking to the state is “unlikely” to be ready in time for the governor’s budget proposal in January, and he says he “can’t predict” whether hydrofracking permits will be issued in 2012.

Commissioner Martens also said just the review of the thousands of comments that have been received during an ongoing public comment period will take months.