The DEC is ready to close a chapter in the debate on high-volume hydraulic fracturing today with the expiration of the public comment period. It is estimated that more than 18,000 comments from both sides of the debate have been submitted, with that number likely higher, given the final surge of comments submitted between yesterday and today.

I fully appreciate the efforts made by DEC Commissioner Martens and his staff to understand the science of hydraulic fracturing and the potential impact drilling will have on our natural environment. This is certainly not an enviable job.  I remain confident that New York will provide the model for effective regulations with regard to drilling.

After four years of research, discussion and debate, New York stands at a crossroads and it is incumbent on the DEC to direct the path New York will take. While I recognize that it will take months for sufficient review of the comments, the process must be expedient and the DEC must forge a path for New York in 2012.

In his State of the State, Governor Cuomo spoke of New York as a leader in tourism, economic development and good government. Why not New York as a leader in natural gas production? What role does New York want to play in the bigger energy picture?

The top five U.S. states in total energy production (2009) are: Texas, Wyoming, Louisiana, West Virginia and Kentucky. (Pennsylvania is ranked 6th).  New York is ranked 21st, despite sitting on the nation’s largest gas reserves with the Marcellus and Utica Shale plays.  In natural gas production, New York drops down to 22nd. The question is, where do we see New York in this energy picture?  Among all the rankings, how important is this one?

In 2009, shale gas made up 14% of total U.S. natural gas supply and it is estimated that production will constitute 46% of U.S. gas supply by 2035. Again, where does New York see itself in this scenario? Will we capitalize on or continue to delay this opportunity?

Four years into the discussion and I remain concerned that we are no further along than when we began.  Special interests continue to galvanize the media, while painting the gas industry as the evil empire. I ask you, what other industrial process will be regulated with such scrutiny?  New York can do this right and needs to do it now. How long will we deny the abundance of energy just under our feet?