The debate over whether or not to allow hydrofracking in New York State will linger on for at least a few more weeks. The state will miss its deadline at the end of the month to approve gas drilling. Reaction to the latest development is passionate on both sides of the debate. Melissa Kakareka tells us supporters and opponents are both hopeful that a decision will go their way soon.
BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- Landowners in the Southern Tier have been looking toward February 27th as the light at the end of the tunnel. Instead, a familiar story is playing out.
"The Joint Landowners Coalition is extremely disappointed that, once again, after four-and-a-half years, we have missed once again another deadline," said Joint Landowners Coalition of New York President Dan Fitzsimmons.
Department of Health Commissioner Nirav Shah announced Tuesday that he will need more time to complete his drilling health review. The Joint-Landowners Coalition of New York is considering a lawsuit.
"To us, the failure to decide, is to decide. That's what would be the basis for a de facto taking, that the state has taken our rights, our private property rights, under the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution, and under the Constitution, government needs to compensate us for our private property rights," explained JLCNY Attorney Scott Kurkoski.
DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens has indicated that the DEC may issue fracking permits without the final regulations in place, as long as Dr. Shah's review doesn't raise any major issues. Hydrofracking supporters are hopeful that is true.
"We've all been looking at February 27 as the deadline and many of us thought we would be going at this for many more months, six months, a year, if the regulations were not finished by the 27th. So in that respect, we were pleased that the DEC said, ‘No it doesn't have to go that way,’" said Kurkoski.
On the other hand, hydrofracking opponents are encouraged by the delay and continue to voice health concerns about the controversial procedure.
"We're pleased with this delay. It's good that Dr. Shah is calling for more studies. We would really like to see public participation in the process and New York's fantastic medical community brought into process," said Citizen Action Environmental Organizer Isaac Silberman-Gorn.
"This is a case in point where we feel the more science that is brought to bear, it just makes more and more the case that we are not ready to proceed with fracking," said Binghamton Regional Sustainability Coalition Chair Chris Burger.
Dr. Shah's review is expected to be done in a few weeks.