Common Cause NY Calls DEC Natural Gas Industry Communications on Hydrofracking “outrageous”

For Immediate Release:

Contact: Susan Lerner

June 29, 2012


Common Cause NY Calls DEC/Natural Gas Industry Communications on Hydrofracking “outrageous”

TU report reveals DEC emails with gas industry lobbyists on hydrofracking regs, not environmentalists

In response to a report in yesterday’s Albany Times Union, that the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) communicated directly with the natural gas industry about hydrofracking regulations, and not environmental advocates or other representatives of the general public, before making the information public, Susan Lerner issued the following statement:

“The fact that DEC gave the natural gas industry a leg up over the public and other stakeholders, is an outrageous violation of the ethical standards that must govern a supposedly neutral agency. Today’s report is deeply troubling and raises significant concerns in an already fraught issue. The excuse that such communications are technically legal doesn’t make it right. New Yorkers deserve full disclosure from DEC about any and all communications with the natural gas industry immediately. We hope that the Legislature will conduct hearings to fully reveal what other communications have taken place out of the public’s view.”

In January, Common Cause NY issued a report on the influence of political contributions from the natural gas industry to affect public policy on hydrofracking. The report, Deep Drilling Deep Pockets Part 3, revealed that from January 2007 to October 2011, the Natural Gas industry made 2,349 campaign contributions to state and local politicians and parties. These contributions represent over $1.34 million in natural gas industry campaign contributions.

Lerner continued: “When we released our report, Common Cause NY called on the DEC to extend the public comment period (which they did) because ‘New Yorkers need an adequate amount of time to address doubts about the ability of the DEC to properly regulate the natural gas industry given budget constraints, environmental concerns, as well as the natural gas industry’s alarming degree of financial influence on state lawmakers.’ Today those doubts have been confirmed. The special access which the natural gas industry is being afforded is an impressive return on their investment of millions of dollars in campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures. It is impossible for New Yorkers to have confidence in the objectivity of state government under the circumstances. All communications between DEC and any interested parties should be fully transparent and part of the public record, not conducted through private emails that need to be FOILed.