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Hydraulic fracturing report nearing completion

ALBANY – The state’s environmental conservation commissioner said today he is uncertain if he can meet the July 1 deadline ordered by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to issue a comprehensive report on hydraulic fracturing drilling for natural gas in New York state.

The much-awaited report will make recommendations whether the state should proceed with the controversial drilling process in the Marcellus Shale region of the state, according to Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joseph Martens.

“We’re working on it, so stayed tuned. We’ll tell you later in the week whether we’re going to meet the deadline or not. We’re working on it very actively,’’ Martens said after emerging from a meeting at the Capitol between Cuomo and his cabinet members.

Martens said the report to be released will be a draft open for subsequent public comments. “Hopefully we can meet a Friday deadline,’’ Martens said.

The report, no matter what it says, is certain to provide a spark in the increasingly bitter debate between environmental and business interests – as well as private landowners sitting atop natural gas sites – over the fracking process, which involves large volumes of water, mixed with chemicals and other material, to break apart rock formations to extract the natural gas.

“I’m not promising,’’ Martens said of being able to meet the Friday deadline.

-- Tom Precious

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