The battle over allowing hydrofracking in New York has become an increasingly embittered one, as the state Department of Environmental Conservation's missteps in managing the regulatory review of fracking. Its seeming disregard of the mass of substantive comments filed on DEC's proposals has convinced most opponents that state government is pro-fracking and is unwilling to seriously address the reality of their powerful arguments for a ban.
Then, for a moment this autumn, reality seemed to have a chance. For more than a year, health experts had pummeled state government over its refusal to do a health assessment of fracking prior to authorizing it.
Unexpectedly, the governor's office announced the health issues would be addressed. Combined with the governor's earlier commitment that, unlike pro-fracking state governments, New York would not try to block local home rule anti-fracking regulations, it seemed to anti-frackers that the state might finally be ready to address their concerns.
These hopes have now been upended. DEC has announced that, without waiting for the results of the health impacts review, it will try to proceed to finalize its fracking regulations. The state, instead of using standard health impact assessment protocols for carrying out its health impact review, has improvised a process to validate the truncated health analysis DEC had already undertaken, shifting the issue from health consequences of fracking to bureaucratic