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DEC commissioner says hydrofracking can be safe

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New York's conservation chief says a controversial method of drilling for natural gas can be done safely with proper precautions and he's named an advisory panel including top environmentalists.

Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens' comments Friday come a day after his agency outlined recommendations to permit hydraulic fracturing in most of the state's Marcellus Shale formation. He says no permits will be issued until after public comments, further review and final regulations, probably in late fall or early winter.

The DEC would prohibit "hydrofracking" in the New York City and Syracuse watersheds. The technology extracts natural gas from shale by pumping water, chemicals and sand into the ground to create fissures in the rock and release the gas.

The advisory panel includes lawyers from the Natural Resources Defense Council and Waterkeeper Alliance President Robert Kennedy Jr.

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