By Patricia Willens, with reporting by Marie Cuskick/WHMT of The Innovation Trail
As New York wrestles with how to regulate gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is bringing together people from both sides of the hydrofracking debate. The new 17-member advisory panel met with the DEC for the first time yesterday. It's made up of gas industry representatives, environmentalists, and local government officials. Five more people were added to the original panel to include more local voices, including a Farm bureau rep and a New York-based gas and oil association member.
They're charged with making sure that state and local governments have enough resources to handle everything that comes along with the controversial drilling technique, from regulations and permits, to roads and infrastructure.
“There are existing revenue sources to the state and local governments from this activity. We want to assess what those are and how those compare to the needs that are likely to be required if high-volume hydraulic fracturing proceeds like we anticipate it will,” DEC Commissioner Joe Martens told reporters after the closed-door meeting.
The panel will convene over the next few months, with recommendations expected by early November.
Robert Moore is the executive director of Environmental Advocates of New York and one of the panel members. He believes it will be a daunting task to make sure drilling is done right.
"The governor has said time and time again if this is done, it will be done safely. He didn't say it will be done cost effectively, he didn't say it will be done as safe as we can afford ... he said it will be done safely. That was the promise made to New Yorkers and I take the governor at his word," says Moore.
The public gets to weigh in and comment on the DEC’s next draft ofits rules that will regulate drilling. That report is due by the end of the month.