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Thursday, July 2, 2015

With New York Fracking Ban Official, DEC Commissioner Heads Back to Work for Anti-Drilling Organization

From Capitol Confidential:
One day after codifying the state’s fracking ban – the signature issue of his tenure at the helm of the DEC – the agency’s commissioner, Joe Martens, has informed his senior staffers that he plans to depart in July. 
In an email being sent to all agency employees, Martens says it has been an “honor, an education and a gift” to head the DEC since 2011 – the first year Gov. Andrew Cuomo took office. He also informs staffers that his executive deputy, Marc Gerstman, will serve as acting commissioner “to ensure a seamless transition and continuation of the many initiatives we have in the works.” 
An administrative source familiar with Martens’ plans says he will be returning to the Open Space Institute, of which he was president from 1998 to 2011, as a senior advisor.
Meanwhile, activists are hoping that the New York ban will put some wind in the sails of efforts to block shale development in other areas.  From NCPR News:
Sources in Albany said the Commissioner of New York State’s Environmental Agency, Joe Martens, is leaving. Martens made the announcement just two days after he issued the final environmental impact statement that bans hydraulic fracking in New York. The final report on fracking is a signal for others to move on as well. Anti-fracking groups said they are using New York’s stance to help convince other states and countries to ban the gas drilling process. 
Julia Walsh, who led the group Frack Action through years of protests, hearing testimony, and other actions, helped deliver a thank-you petition to Governor Cuomo the day the fracking ban was formalized. “Today is a great day to be a New Yorker,” Walsh said, when the statement was finalized on June 29. Walsh said when New York began the process to ban fracking last December, it helped influence other groups in the United States and around the world. “In Maryland, they passed a two year moratorium after New York,” Walsh said. “We also saw moratoriums in Scotland and Wales.” A local government in Lancashire, England rejected a fracking application by a gas company in late June.

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