Department of Environmental Conservation

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A landowners group says it intends to file a lawsuit before the end of the year against what it says are the Cuomo administration’s unreasonable delays on hydrofracking.

Johannes Gilger / Flickr

On Tuesday when you go to vote, you’ll find two issues on your ballot that deal with New York’s Adirondack Park.

Both involve small land swaps that have been in the works for years. But because they impact the park’s forest preserve, which is protected by the state constitution, they require a vote of the people to move forward. Although one of the land swaps enjoys wide support, the other has sparked controversy and a fierce debate among environmentalists.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Anti-fracking activists are also fighting New York’s efforts to lift a ban on small natural gas storage and fueling facilities. A public information session on the matter held in Syracuse on Wednesday became about the larger natural gas industry.

New York is the only state to ban small-scale natural gas storage. That came after a 1970s facility accident in New York City. Now, under efforts from the state Department of Environmental Conservation, new fueling stations for trucks could be built as early as next year.

An environmental group says budget cuts at the state’s environmental agency has meant up to 75 percent fewer inspections of polluters like power plants and hazardous waste sites.

David Gahl, with Environmental Advocates, says years of budget cuts at the state Department of Environmental Conservation, known as the DEC, has led to a one-third reduction of staff, and an even greater decrease in the number of inspections of potential polluters.

“DEC is looking less and finding less,” Gahl said.

The leaders of the environmental committee in the New York state legislature have proposed a $5 billion environmental bond act, to be voted on in November 2014. But at an Assembly hearing on the state’s environmental budget, advocates say a bigger concern is dwindling staff at the Department of Environmental Conservation.

Assembly Environmental Committee Chair Robert Sweeney is sponsoring a bill to create a $5 billion environmental bond act to promote clean water, clean air and to preserve public land.

Kabsik Park/flickr

A coalition of New York state environmental groups filed a lawsuit against the state’s environmental regulators in July. The groups claim that the Department of Environmental Conservation violated environmental law when it loosened the regulation of dairy farms. The result is that the state’s very public support of the yogurt industry may have hit a roadblock.

During a highly publicized Yogurt Summit last year in Albany, Gov. Andrew Cuomo praised the spirit behind the industry in New York.

“When you see an opportunity, grab it and get it done,” Cuomo said.

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Gas and Oil producer Lenape Resources has filed a note of appeal as part of an attempt to overturn a court decision made in March that allowed the town of Avon to maintain its moratorium on fracking. This is the third case of this kind in upstate New York.

Opponents of hydrofracking are charging there’s a potential conflict of interest with a consultant to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s environmental agency. They are asking that the years-long review of fracking in New York state be restarted. The controversy caused the consultant in question to sever all ties with a gas industry lobby group.

A number of protestors were arrested for blockading the entrance to a natural gas storage facility in the Finger Lakes region early Monday.

Sidsel Overgaard/WRVO

Opponents of a proposed underground gas storage facility near Seneca Lake are ramping up for a legal fight as a decision on the project nears.

DEC may miss deadline for fracking regulations

Feb 4, 2013
Matt Ryan/WMHT

New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens suggested Monday that the state may miss a February 27 deadline to complete its proposed fracking regulations. And that could stall a decision on gas drilling for months.

Marie Cusick/Innovation Trail

In Gov. Andrew Cuomo's 2013-2014 budget, the Department of Environmental Conservation is looking at a budget cut of 5.5 percent. What will this mean for the department if hydrofracking comes to New York?

Matt Richmond / WSKG

Public commenting on the state’s revised hydrofracking regulations closed on Friday. Final regulations are due to be released at the end of February. The Democratic-controlled state assembly held a public hearing on Thursday that included some heated exchanges.

A group called Elected Officials to Protect New York is pressing Gov. Andrew Cuomo to extend a 30-day public comment period that ends Friday. The comment period is for revised hydrofracking regulations released by the Department of Environmental Conservation in November.

Matt Richmond / WSKG

A document from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration assessing the health impacts of hydrofracking, written less than a year ago, says the gas drilling process is likely safe if proper precautions are taken by the governor’s environmental agency, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). 

Reintroducing Atlantic salmon to the Salmon River

Jan 1, 2013
David Chanatry/New York State Reporting Project

In recent years both the federal and New York state governments have been studying how best to re-introduce – salmon -- to New York’s Salmon River.  That might come as a surprise to anyone who’s ever fished the river, known for its salmon of eye-popping size. 

Matt Richmond / WSKG

Helen Slottje is an Ithaca-based lawyer who helped develop town bans against drilling. She spoke to a friendly crowd on Monday night at the Unitarian Church of Ithaca.

Matt Richmond / WSKG

For those on the pro-fracking side, the newest regulations are both a good sign and a troubling one. On the one hand, they're a light at the end of the tunnel, proof that permits for hydrofracking aren’t far off. But, on the other hand, fracking supporters say that the Department of Environmental Conservation has only answered the concerns of the anti-fracking lobby.

The Cuomo Administration could be headed toward approval of hydrofracking in New York by the end of February, when a 90-day extension on a rule making process ends.

Credit NASA Earth Observatory

The Department of Environmental Conservation recently released regulations on water withdrawals that would cover the natural gas industry in New York.

The Cuomo Administration says it will not be ruling on whether to allow hydrofracking in New York until an on-going health review is finished.  The delays have resulted in the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation having to open another public comment period, which begins December 12.

A legal expert says that the Cuomo administration’s move to delay for another 90 days the decision on whether to allow hydrofracking in New York makes sense. Meanwhile, some health care professionals say a review underway on the health effects of fracking is a sham.

The state’s environmental agency confirms it will miss a key deadline and delay approval of hydrofracking in New York once again. Anti-fracking forces see an opportunity in the new delay, while those waiting to benefit economically from the gas drilling process are feeling frustrated.

Joanna Richards / WRVO

At a packed public meeting November 7 in Watertown, state environmental and health officials began a dialogue with members of the public concerned about pollution on the city's north side, with the New York Air Brake plant at the center of concern. Now, Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) officials talk about what they'll do with the new information from the meeting, and what might come next.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says a health study of hydrofracking will make it impossible to meet a looming deadline for regulations on the drilling process, which would pushing a much-delayed decision on the contentious issue into 2013.

Hydrofracking could once again be delayed in New York, unless the state Health Commissioner is able to complete requirements to contract with outside health experts and conduct a health review by November 29.

The New York Air Brake industrial site in Watertown has been the subject of resurgent concerns among residents of the city's north side neighborhood. Some have come forward about illnesses they say are linked to pollution at the site. The state departments of Health and Environmental Conservation are holding a community meeting Wednesday, November 7 in Watertown to hear those concerns.

A group of public health experts are questioning whether Governor Andrew Cuomo’s health officials can do a credible job reviewing a health study on hydrofracking, saying independent reviewers would be a better choice.

The Cuomo administration has announced two developments that could delay the start of hydrofracking in New York, and is leaving supporters and opponents with many unanswered questions.

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s environmental commissioner is rejecting calls by environmentalists for an independent health impact study on hydrofracking. But  Environmental Commissioner Joe Martens, says the state’s health commissioner has agreed to conduct a review.

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