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Robert Kennedy, Jr. Accepts Post on DEC Fracking Panel


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Will advocate for rigorous environmental protections

On Friday, July 1, 2011, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation announced its new recommendations regarding limits to be placed on high-volume hydraulic fracturing in New York State, including a ban on hydrofracking in the New York City and Syracuse watersheds, over primary aquifers and on state lands. In addition, DEC Commissioner Joe Martens announced the formation of an Hydraulic Fracturing Advisory Panel charged with developing recommendations to ensure proper oversight and enforcement with respect to hydraulic fracturing activities and mitigation of impacts to local governments and communities.

Commissioner Martens asked Robert Kennedy, Jr., as the President of Waterkeeper Alliance, to be a member of the panel, along with several industry representatives, as well as representatives from other environmental organizations including NRDC and the Environmental Defense Fund. Governor Cuomo has assured Kennedy that his goal is to have DEC put in place the most rigorous regulations in the 50 states governing shale gas extraction activities in New York. In addition, the Governor and Commissioner Martens want to make certain that oversight and enforcement is adequately funded by the industry itself.

Having been invited to play an inside role in guiding the State’s efforts to put adequate protections in place to ensure that hydraulic fracturing will be done safely and responsibly in New York, Kennedy decided that he would be in the strongest position to negotiate on behalf of protecting the environment as a member of the panel. “I felt that it would be counter-productive and chicken-hearted for the Waterkeeper Alliance to sit on the sidelines and allow an industry-dominated panel attempt to influence the development of a less than fully protective regulatory framework, and then lob bombs at the final work product.” Kennedy is committed to playing an active and forceful role on the panel to make certain that voices speaking for the environment and in particular, for our precious water resources, are heard, and to ensure that the best possible regulations and financial assurances are part of the regulatory protocols.

This role is consistent with the position on the natural gas industry that Kennedy has taken since this spring, when he re-examined his support for natural gas as a reasonable substitute for the destructive practice of mountain top coal mining. “Because of the reckless conduct of the industry over the past several years, as well as my growing concerns about the greenhouse gas impacts associated with shale gas extraction and about the potential for the investment and infrastructure required by aggressive natural gas exploitation to divert resources away from the development of alternative fuels, I have changed my thinking and have asked members of the industry to stop using any statements I may have made in the past in support of natural gas. My position now is that I oppose moving forward with permitting of all new horizontal hydrofracking activities until more responsible leadership emerges within the industry, best practices are required by law, and state and federal regulatory agencies have the staff and resources to provide reliable oversight.”

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