The Albany Times Union reports that emails from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation have raised questions about the ties between the state agency and the drilling industry.

The emails is question were obtained by the Environmental Working Group under a  state Freedom of Information request.

The emails showed state officials gave details of a proposed permit and regulations for natural gas hydraulic fracturing or fracking to industry representatives before making them public.

The eco-group said the exchange suggests an overly cozy relationship between DEC and the natural gas industry, which is pushing to open up the state's Marcellus Shale region to drilling in the wake of a four-year moratorium.

DEC defended the private release, which excluded eco-groups that have raised safety concerns about drilling.

The agency called the communication consistent with state law meant to ensure regulations are not overly burdensome.