Local Leaders Ask for More Time to View New Fracking Rules

By Matt Porter

January 7, 2013 Updated Jan 8, 2013 at 12:32 AM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) A group of mayors and other elected officials from the Southern Tier gathered in Binghamton to ask Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) and environmental regulators at the Department of Environmental Conservation for more time.

The group, Elected Officials to Protect New York, represents more than 560 elected officials in all of New York's 62 counties.

Binghamton Democrat Mayor Matt Ryan held a press conference at his office with fellow democrats Elmira Mayor Sue Skidmore, Tompkins County Legislative Char Martha Robertson, and Caroline Deputy Town Supervisor Dominic Frongillo.

They said the 30-day comment period that began on December 11, 2012 and ends on January 11, 2013 is not enough time to evaluate the revised regulations on hydraulic fracturing drawn up by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation.

Ryan admitted that critics are right in his wishes to try and stall the process.

"We want this stalled for a long time, not just for 90 days," said Ryan, "There's no question that that there has not been enough oversight of the health impacts of this industry."

Robertson said keeping to the 30-day period without an extension is a move that can only aid gas industry interests.

"The signal is this is the minimum we have to do to meet the law," said Robertson, "And we don't actually care what the public or our local governments have to say about these regulations."

Part of the problem is that the comment period has overlapped with two national holidays, Christmas and New Years, and has not given elected bodies enough time to digest the proposed rules.

The proposed regulations are part of a document released last month detailing how New York might regulate hydraulic fracturing.

Skidmore said the document is too technical to be reviewed by the public in just 30 days. She said that the DEC should not experiment with people in the Southern Tier.

"They're talking about opening fracking to the Southern Tier.," said Skidmore, "We're the guinea pigs, I don't want to be a guinea pig. I want to have something proven, if we're going to do this, we're going to do it right."

In the Town of Conklin, Republican town supervisor Jim Finch offered an alternative view and said his town's been waiting almost five years for some sort of regulations so gas drilling could begin.

He said the opposition is driven by people outside of the Southern Tier.

"A lot of the people that are against the drilling, that are putting the comments in aren't even being affected," said Finch, "We need that here in this area to save our residents and everything else."

Finch said after losing 130 homes and about $10 million dollars in taxable real estate from both floods, continuing to delay on gas drilling could be disastrous for the Town of Conklin.

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