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DEC head: No 'timetable' on NY fracking decision

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 4, 2013 at 3:21 pm •  Published: February 4, 2013

While acknowledging that DEC staffing was at the lowest level in a decade, Martens said there were no plans to close any state facilities such as parks, campgrounds, fish hatcheries, or the pheasant-breeding farm in central New York. He said the agency has a "lean coordinator" who is reviewing all departments to find ways to operate more efficiently.

Hundreds of gas-drilling opponents packed the hearing room and repeatedly interrupted the hearing with applause, groans, or hissing. Many held small signs with slogans such as "No shale gas," although security guards made them leave larger placards outside.

Before the hearing began, Sandra Steingraber, a leader of New Yorkers Against Fracking, confronted Martens and demanded the environmental review and regulations be put on hold and a comprehensive health impact analysis be done by an independent investigator. She went to a seat after guards threatened to arrest her.

At the end of Martens' testimony, the protesters stood and chanted "Not one well!" before heading to the Capitol for a rally. Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, joined the protesters to sign a "pledge of resistance" to fracking and discuss utilizing civil disobedience if shale gas development is permitted.

Cuomo's proposed budget for the fiscal year that starts April 1 makes no mention of fracking. Martens said it would be premature to allocate money to regulate something that hasn't even been approved to occur in the state. Cuomo has said the decision on whether to allow fracking will depend on whether the science shows it can be done safely.