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NY commissioner: No plans for fracking permits

By The Associated Press

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - State Environmental Commissioner Joe Martens says his agency has "absolutely no plans" to issue permits for shale gas drilling and fracking in the 2014-15 fiscal year.

Several lawmakers asked Martens at a legislative budget hearing Wednesday if Gov. Andrew Cuomo's $137.2 billion budget allocates any money for regulating high-volume hydraulic fracturing, which has been on hold since an environmental review was launched in 2008. Martens replied, "None whatsoever."

Asked by reporters after the hearing when the environmental review will be finalized, Martens repeated previous statements that there's no timetable and he's waiting for an analysis by Health Commissioner Dr. Nirav Shah.

Cuomo's budget keeps DEC's funding flat at $876 million. It increases the Environmental Protection Fund, which pays for local conservation initiatives, by $4 million, bringing it to $157 million.

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