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Drilling rig in the Marcellus Shale region. Photo: Laurie Barr
Drilling rig in the Marcellus Shale region. Photo: Laurie Barr

NYS DEC cuts complicate fracking picture

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Proponents and opponents of hydrofracking in New York state read Gov. Andrew Cuomo's budget closely for clues about fracking's future in the state.

They didn't see much. A decision on whether fracking will be allowed is expected after a health study is complete in February.

The agency overseeing the review, and in charge of permitting should fracking get the go-ahead, is New York's Department of Environmental Conservation. And it's in for a cut of five and a half percent in Cuomo's new budget.

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Reported by

Matt Richmond
Reporter, The Innovation Trail

During an interview last week with public radio's Susan Arbetter, Governor Cuomo said money for additional staff at the DEC, before fracking is approved, isn't necessary.

"If we do it," he said, "we're going to have the money to pay the staff to do it right."

 The proposed cuts released with the budget Tuesday amount to $53 million less for the department. This comes after years of trimming at the DEC.

According to Department of Environmental Conservation spokesperson Emily DeSantis, the DEC's operations budget would remain flat, the cuts would be to the part of the budget that pays for capital works projects, things like coastal erosion prevention and flood mitigation, that are contracted out by the department.

Even without adding in the loss of staff this year, the DEC has 23 percent fewer employees than it had six years ago and will be stretched thin no matter what decision is made on fracking, according to Riverkeeper's Kate Hudson.

"The agency is still incapable of moving forward with anything that would be so draining as bringing hydrofracking into New York."

Hudson was watching the budget for signs that fracking will be permitted in New York. There are none. That decision is expected in February, when the final environmental impact statement is due to be completed.


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