Ad campaign presses fracking agenda

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ALBANY -- Proponents of shale gas drilling have launched a new ad campaign calling on state officials to bring a four-year environmental review to a close and allow gas development to begin in New York.

The radio and print ads were released Tuesday, in advance of Thursday's deadline for finalizing regulations for gas drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has said it's unlikely the deadline will be met because a health study is yet to be finished.

Shale gas drilling hasn't been allowed in New York since regulators began an environmental study in 2008.

The ads were launched by a group of landowner, farming, business, gas industry and construction organizations. It contrasts economic hardships in upstate New York with financial benefits drilling has brought to Pennsylvania.

On Tuesday, Department of Environmental Conservation spokeswoman Emily DeSantis said regulators want another three months to finalize new gas drilling rules so that a study of health impacts can be completed.

The department Thursday will seek a 90-day extension of the deadline, including a public comment period, DeSantis said.

The extra time would allow Health Commissioner Nirav Shah and three national experts to review the health effects of shale gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing, she said.

Health and environmental groups on Tuesday repeated their call for a comprehensive and independent health impact analysis before fracking is allowed in New York. DEC Commissioner Joe Martens rejected that request in September, saying Shah would review DEC's own health impact assessment with input from outside experts. The DEC's health review has not been made public.

Fracking releases gas from rock by injecting a well with millions of gallons of chemically treated water.

Regulators contend that overall, water and air pollution problems related to fracking are rare, but environmental groups and some scientists say there hasn't been enough research on those issues.

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