The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has reportedly filed a notice of continuation with the Department of State requesting a 90-day extension of the rulemaking process to account for the potential effects of high-volume hydraulic fracturing. According to a statement from Commissioner Joseph Martens, the extension was needed to give state Commissioner of Health Nirav Shah time to complete his review of the draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS).

Apparently, Martens had requested, and Shah agreed to provide, an additional review, in consultation with outside experts, of whether DEC has adequately addressed potential impacts to public health. Evidently, the state had previously extended the process of regulatory development by re-filing the proposed regulations, along with responses to comments that had been received. Re-filing the rules extended for 90 days the statutory deadline to complete rulemaking, and when the extended deadline passed on February 27, 2013, the proposed rules reportedly “expired.”

According to Martens, Shah expects his review to be completed within a few weeks. “The previously proposed high-volume hydraulic fracturing regulations cannot be finalized until the SGEIS is complete. However, this does not mean that the issuance of permits for high-volume hydraulic fracturing would be delayed. If the DOH [Department of Health] Public Health Review finds that the SGEIS has adequately addressed health concerns, and I adopt the SGEIS on that basis, DEC can accept and process high-volume hydraulic fracturing permit applications 10 days after issuance of the SGEIS. The regulations simply codify the program requirements,” said Martens.