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Fracking foes hope for EPA support


Ithaca -- For anti-hydraulic fracturing activists like Ithaca environmentalist Walter Hang, Tuesday was D-Day.

On the last day to submit comments on the state Department of Environmental Conservation's draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement, those who oppose the use of the natural gas drilling method in New York gathered at rallies in major cities across the state.

Hang has spent more than two months collecting nearly 22,000 signatures for a coalition letter urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to withdraw a revised version of the draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement. He said he expects the rallies and letter, in combination with comments expected from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, to pack a punch that would delay forward motion on hydrofracking in the state. Hang said he expected the EPA's statement to be "blistering."

A 2009 letter from the EPA listed several concerns with proposed regulations, none of which, Hang said, were adequately addressed in the state's revised regulations.

"Maybe as early as today, this letter will come out, and I think it will be extremely hard for the governor to say these proposed safeguards are based on good science," he said.

Hang's letter claims there are 17 "major flaws" in the draft impact statement, uppermost the DEC's lack of regulation.

At anti-fracking rallies in Albany during the governor's State of the State address, Hang said activists made an impression.

"They had to walk right by these giant, screaming, chanting hordes of anti-frackers," he said. "There wasn't a pro-fracker in sight."