Friday, September 17, 2010

After delay, hearing on fracking goes off smoothly

Journal photo by William Moyer
The last of four nationwide Environmental Protection Agency public hearings about its hydraulic fracturing study went off without a hitch in Broome County, N.Y., despite a postponement and venue changes resulting from security concerns. "Speaker after speaker stepped up over 16 hours to sound off to an EPA panel of researchers on how they think the agency should proceed with its hydraulic fracturing study, or to vent -- sometimes loudly -- about where they stand on the drilling technique," Jonathan Campbell reports for the Ithaca Journal. The meeting had bene set for Aug. 12 at Binghamton University but was moved and postponed following a contract dispute centering on security and rental costs.

Around 1,350 people attended, far below the 8,000 predicted for the original Binghamton date, meaning EPA spent about $17 per person on security. "Rallies and protests outside the venue were also light," Campbell writes. "A few hundred stood before the Monday sessions in separate barricaded areas wielding signs and chanting their support or disdain for the drilling process." Despite repeated reminders from the meeting's facilitators that the meeting was not a policy debate, many speakers took their allotted time to comment on whether EPA should take over regulation of fracking from the states
"We need the EPA to step in with federal regulations to protect all water resources," State Democratic Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton said. "Federal oversight is integral to management of interstate water sources, as well." Several speakers said the study should be expanded to include air, noise and other types of pollution, while others said it should stick to fracking's effects on groundwater, as Congress mandated. "We believe Congress asked you to answer a simple question," Jerry Simmons, executive director of the National Association of Royalty Owners, said. "So cut to the chase, don't spend any more money than you have to, and answer the question." (Read more)

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