ALBANY — A long-awaited state report on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas will have to wait a little bit longer because of Tropical Storm Irene, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation.
The 1,000-plus page draft report on the controversial technique won’t be released until next week because the department is responding to flooding and damage caused by Irene earlier this week, spokeswoman Emily DeSantis said today.
Before the storm, DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens said on Friday that the study, called the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, would be released today, with a public comment period to follow. Martens visited the site of an oil spill in Schoharie on Tuesday and is scheduled to be on the road today, as well.
“DEC continues to be focused on hurricane response and recovery,” DeSantis said in a statement today. “Therefore, we will release the revised draft SGEIS next week.”
The report will provide the framework for the DEC to permit high-volume hydrofracking, which hasn’t been permitted in New York since the review was started in July 2008. The technique is used with gas drilling to send a high-pressure mix of water, sand and chemicals deep underground to break up shale formations — like the Marcellus Shale — and release natural gas.
Most of the DEC’s latest draft was released in July, but the department said it would install a new chapter on the socioeconomic and community impacts of gas drilling before officially releasing it for public comment. The department had originally set the comment period at 60 days, but said a final decision on the length as well as whether to host public hearings would be announced when the document is released.
Following the public comment period, the department will have to make another round of revisions before a final version is released and high-volume hydrofracking permits can be issued, which is expected to come at some point in 2012.