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Revised 'fracking' regulations released in NY

ALBANY -- A revised set of proposed regulations for hydraulic fracturing natural gas has been released by New York environmental officials, who will begin taking public comment on them next month.

The voluminous technical document was made public by the Department of Environmental Conservation on its website Wednesday, a day before the deadline for adopting rules for the controversial drilling known as "fracking" or making changes and allowing more comment. It has been a year since the last public hearings on the original proposal. New York has not yet approved the technology, which drillers want to use to tap gas in the Marcellus Shale formation.

The first round of hearings on regulations proposed in 2011 generated 80,000 comments, which DEC officials said slowed their review and revision of the proposal. It said the latest changes include a number responding to the original comments. The agency said Thursday the changes allow it to extend the review process and take into account a pending analysis by the state Health Department.

Calls by opponents for an independent study of potential health threats from the drilling were rejected by the Cuomo administration, which instead asked state Health Commissioner Nirav Shah to oversee an assessment of health issues.

"DEC will not take any final action until after Dr. Shah's health review is completed," agency spokeswoman Emily DeSantis said. The DEC said it will take written comments on the latest revisions from Dec. 12 until Jan. 11.

Hydraulic fracturing has divided environmental and business interests at odds over potential harm to water and other resources and the potential for tapping an abundant supply of gas and creating jobs.

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