DEC chief: Fracking blueprint progressing

When New York state environmental officials released their revised regulatory blueprint for natural gas drilling last week, the tome was 1,095 pages long and covered everything from protecting bird habitats to getting rid of drilling mud.

But even as the state moves toward a day when thousands of new gas wells dot the landscape, key decisions are yet to be made — including when the first well might be drilled under the new rules.

The Department of Environmental Conservation still must flesh out the regulatory blueprint, solicit public comments and wade through the responses, DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said.

"Everyone's been asking when that will be complete. It depends on how many comments we get," Martens said at a meeting Tuesday with the editorial board of the Democrat and Chronicle. "Conceivably we could have this ... finalized early next year. That's my best guess."

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