The state Senate unanimously confirmed Joe Martens as the new commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation Tuesday.
Martens, who had been DEC's acting commissioner since late January, is the former head of the Open Space Institute and the chairman of the state Olympic Region Development Authority's board of directors.
While Martens has stepped down from his full-time position at the Open Space Institute, he has remained on the ORDA board.
(Enterprise file photo)
The ORDA board's vice chairman, Serge Lussi said it has not been determined if Martens will remain on the board.
"That's up to the governor, not us," Lussi said. "We hope he will."
Martens takes over as the agency works to complete an environmental review of hydraulic fracturing to release natural gas from deep shale wells. The study is expected to be finished in June.
Republican Sen. Thomas Libous of Binghamton said he was pleased with Martens' confirmation on Tuesday. He says he would support increasing the conservation agency's funding and staffing to ensure safety and a timely permitting process for gas drilling.
In the Adirondacks, Martens has received praise from environmentalists and elected officials since his nomination was announced in January by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
"The governor has made a great choice in selecting Joe Martens as DEC Commissioner," Sen. Betty Little, R-Queensbury, said in a written release Tuesday. "Commissioner Martens will do well for all of New York, but I'm very happy we have someone in this position so familiar with the North Country and the Adirondacks."
The Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages also praised Martens' confirmation.
"Over the years, Joe Martens has proven that he has the experience, the good judgment and the knowledge of the issues that are important to the elected officials of the 103 Adirondack towns and villages that we represent and more importantly to the people that call the Adirondacks their home," AATV President Brian Towers said in a written statement. "Commissioner Martens has been a friend to many of us and understands the importance of striking a balance between Environmental Conservation, stewardship of New York's public lands and the economic vitality of the region."
Environmental Advocates of New York, a green group based in Albany, lauded Martens and Rose Harvey, who was also confirmed Tuesday as commissioner of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
"New York is facing significant environmental challenges and the decisions we make today will have lasting consequences for the health of our air, land and water," Executive Director Robert Moore said in a written release.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Contact Mike Lynch at 518-891-2600 ext. 28 or firstname.lastname@example.org.