Tonight in Cooperstown: Anti-fracking attorney to host workshop on DEC's new gas regulations

New York State is currently accepting public comments on its latest draft of gas drilling regulations. Helen Slottje, a lawyer who has been prominent in the movement to pass town bans on gas drilling, is hosting a series of public forums this week on the revised regulations in an effort to gather more public comments from fracking opponents. The third and last of these forums will be held in Cooperstown tonight.

On November 30, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation released a revised draft of regulations that, if passed into law, will govern hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. The public comment period on the regulations runs from December 12, 2012 through January  11, 2013.

Helen Slottje, an Ithaca attorney who runs the Community Environmental Defense Council with her husband David Slottje, will speak about the DEC's new regulations on Wednesday, December 19 at 7pm at Templeton Hall in Cooperstown, on 63 Pioneer Street. The Slottjes have been one of the main forces behind the "home rule" movement to restrict gas drilling on a town level: The couple has been working pro bono to help towns around the state draft local laws that impose temporary or permanent bans on gas drilling.

Still not released by the DEC: A long-awaited pair of studies on the health and environmental impacts of the new regulations. Independent journalist and author Tom Wilber, who blogs about gas drilling at Shale Gas Review, writes that the agency's decision to release the regulations before the health and environmental reviews are complete is frustrating to citizens and activists working against the clock to understand what the new regulations mean:

Because changes are not redlined, reviewers have to flip back and forth between existing regulations developed decades ago for conventional gas development, early drafts of proposed amendments for shale gas, and the current documents. Moreover, the changes could not be considered in context of the broader health and environmental reviews that remain unfinished. This has made the process unnecessarily cumbersome for professional and citizen reviewers who face a 30-day deadline to comment.