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What do new fracking regulations mean?

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Albany/HV: What do new fracking regulations mean?
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State officials react to the new proposed regulations on hydrofracking released by the DEC. Our Nick Reisman reports.


NEW YORK -- Advocates for and against the controversial natural gas extraction process called hydrofracking are still reading over the reams of proposed regulations released late Thursday by the Department of Environmental Conservation, regulations that could change yet again based on a health study currently underway.

“It is has potential economic benefits if the state goes forward with fracking, but we want to make sure that it's safe and we want to make sure the people are protected and the environment is protected and that's why we're doing a health assessment,” Governor Cuomo said on Monday.

The latest batch of regulations for high-volume fracking came as the DEC filed to extend the rule-making process on Wednesday. With the health assessment not due to be completed until February, the DEC says it had to release the regulations as well. But environmental groups aren't convinced.

“What they should have done is to let the clock run out on the last of regulations. Give health experts and the environmental review the time it really needs and then incorporate the findings of those studies and then go out with another set of regulations,” said Katherine Nadeau, Water & Natural Resources Program Director, Environmental Advocates.

Katherine Nadeau of the Environmental Advocates of New York says the latest proposals will likely change based on the health study.

“This could be precedent setting. Nobody else has done anything like this and we need to take the time to do it right,” said Nadeau.

Industry groups that back natural gas exploration disagree, saying regulators need to move forward.

“So much effort has already gone into this. So much time has gone into it. There's no reason why whatsoever to just scrap the whole thing,” said Karen Moreau, NYS Petroleum Council Executive Director.

The contentious issue will likely dominate state government in 2013. In addition to the health study, the DEC must still produce what's called a supplemental generic environmental impact statement, called the SGEIS.

“No permit can be issued until it meets all of the requirements established by DEC in the SGEIS,” said Moreau.

If high-volume hydrofracking is allowed, energy companies would look to the state's Southern Tier near Pennsylvania, where natural gas is especially rich.

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