by Jeremy Moule
The state Department of Environmental Conservation shared parts of proposed fracking regulations with an industry attorney they were released to the public, says an article published this morning in the Albany Times Union.
The Times Union article is based on e-mail exchanges between state officials and a law firm working for the gas industry. A Washington, D.C.-based environmental group, Environmental Working Group, obtained the exchanges through state open records laws.
It appears that the stated shared the regulations so the gas industry could develop an estimate of compliance costs. Several legal and open government experts quoted in the article say the state probably didn't break any laws.
The law isn't really the problem here. Rather, it's a fairness issue, real or perceived. As a post on the Environmental Working Group's website puts it: "Having inside information gave drilling industry representatives a unique opportunity to try to influence the state's plan behind closed doors, before others could weigh in."
And that won't sit well with environmentalists and communities that have serious concerns about high-volume hydraulic fracturing.