The Times Union has a fascinating story, highlighting how the cozy relationship between natural gas fracking companies and the government works at the state level. In this case, it's New York, but we'd argue it could happen anywhere.
Emails obtained from the state Department of Environmental Conservation by an environmental group show state officials gave details of a proposed permit and regulations for natural gas hydraulic fracturing to industry representatives before making them public.
The Environmental Working Group, which obtained the emails under the state Freedom of Information Act, said the exchange suggests an overly cozy relationship between DEC and the natural gas industry, which is pushing to open up the state's gas-rich Marcellus Shale region to the drilling technique
"These emails raise serious questions," said Thomas Cluderay, assistant general counsel with the Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Working Group, which made its [FOIA] request in March and supplied the results to the Times Union. The group wants a moratorium on the technique until all possible health and safety concerns are addressed to the environmental community's satisfaction.
"It looks as though the gas industry got three laps around the track when everyone else was still at the starting gate," Cluderay said. "We believe the people of New York need assurance that they are not being subjected to a dog-and-pony show."
Perhaps the most disturbing part of this story is that, as pointed out by Michael Livermore, executive director of the Institute for Policy Integrity at New York University School of Law, there is apparently nothing illegal about any of it. Still, Livermore points out, "this is a bad thing for a couple of reasons." And, he asks, "Why did the DEC only talk to industry and not environmental groups and the impacted communities?" It's a great question, and one that we suspect could be asked equally of the relationship between the federal government and the fossil fuel industries it's supposed to be regulating.