By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO Pending approval by the full Legislature this Thursday, Sullivan County will formally ask the NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to double the length of a comment period on natural gas drilling rules.
Last week, the DEC released the final portion of its draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS), listing the impacts of and proposed regulations to deal with the advent of high-volume horizontal fracking in the state.
A number of agencies and individuals have called for the DEC to extend the comment period. Initially set for 60 days, it was extended to 90, but there are now calls for 180 days, especially since the document is over 1,000 pages long.
This past Thursday, members of the Legislature’s Planning, Environmental Management and Real Property Committee approved sending such an extension request to the state.
Legislator Frank Armstrong was the sole dissenting vote, arguing that both sides have already drawn their lines in the sand and that doubling the comment period is needlessly dragging it out.
“I don’t think we need more time to have that conversation,” he said after the meeting. “... Let’s get to it.”
As it stands now, written comments will be accepted through December 12, though if the DEC chooses to extend that period to 180 days, it will end on March 5, 2012.
More info including the SGEIS itself and ways to comment can be found at www.dec.ny.gov/energy/75370.html.
Elsewhere during this past Thursday’s legislative committee meetings, Public Works Commissioner Bob Meyer presented a slideshow of the damage to county routes from hurricanes Irene and Lee.
He noted that Irene had impacted more of eastern Sullivan County, while Lee left its mark on the western side.
Damage estimates were still being tallied, though the cost to repair County Route 55 near Mountaindale is about $300,000, Meyer remarked.
County employees were praised for their rapid response to the damage, as all county roads were reopened within a day or two after each storm.