I am really puzzled by this announcement from Mr Martens countering NYS law concerning home rule. The nature of gas exploration is such that it crosses municipal lines regularly and by necessity. WE as a state cannot ever reach our full potential with little pockets of silliness declaring anti gas sentiments. Under this scenario a small group of people can and will control the majority of peoples rights to use of their land. Whats next ? the anti hunters will declare areas of the state as non hunting, or non fishing, or non chicken, whatever is silly will come to the surface.JLCpulse
By Jon Campbell in Press Connects 4/26/2012
ALBANY -- The head of the state Department of Environmental Conservation signaled Thursday that a community's support or opposition to hydraulic fracturing will be considered if the gas-extraction process is ultimately allowed.
DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said local land-use rules will "continue to be a consideration" in the permitting process for gas drilling. So far, 95 municipalities in New York have issued a ban or moratorium on hydrofracking, according to New Yorkers Against Fracking.
Conversely, it would be "easier" to issue a permit in a community that's supportive of gas drilling, Martens said following a news conference.
"I think logically where there is less resistance and less opposition and there is not a local land-use plan in place, I think those will be easier to permit than in other places," Martens said. "That's not to say that we're going to prohibit them in other places, but it's a consideration we have to carefully view."
The DEC is in the midst of a nearly four-year review of high-volume hydrofracking, a controversial technique that involves the underground injection of water, sand and chemicals to unlock gas from shale rock. Permits for the process have been on hold until the review is completed, which is expected later this year.
With natural-gas prices at a 10-year low and the DEC dealing with low staffing levels, many expect permitting to begin slowly if the agency moves to allow the technique. Some lawmakers and lobbyists, including Senate Deputy Majority Leader Tom Libous, R-Binghamton, have suggested first allowing hydrofracking in regions of the state that support the technique.
Other groups have pushed for an all-out ban of hydrofracking. New Yorkers Against Fracking, a coalition, has more than 80 groups that want a ban, spokesman John Armstrong said.
"I think that most New Yorkers think the idea of essentially having sacrifice zones in the state is not a good one," Armstrong said. "A lot of these communities actually have a majority of people who don't want fracking. Just because they haven't gotten bans passed by their town boards ... doesn't mean that they want fracking."
Meanwhile, Martens said the DEC continues to work on reviewing and responding to comments that came in during a public-response period last year. The agency received more than 66,000 comments on a 2011 draft of its review, along with 13,000 on a 2009 draft.
"We are busy working on reviewing the comments and responding to them," he said. "They've been logged; they've been categorized and distributed to the appropriate staff."