A Rational Path Forward for Shale Gas Development in New York?

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There is new hope for the long-stalled development of New York’s Marcellus and Utica Shale resources.  A story published last week by the New York Times reports on a Cuomo administration strategy to break the log-jam that has bogged down the opening of New York’s shale gas resources to hydraulic fracturing.  According to an unnamed senior official with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), the new strategy would limit drilling to the deepest areas of the Marcellus Shale, where the top of the formation is a minimum of 2,000 feet deep.  The proposal for limited drilling would be in place at least for the next few years, in an effort to reduce the risk of groundwater contamination.  The target areas would be primarily Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Steuben and Tioga Counties.  Drilling would only occur in municipalities that agree to it, sidestepping contentious and unresolved local bans that are currently being litigated.  And, it would be contingent on NYSDEC completing its ongoing environmental review process.  The strategy has reportedly been in the works over the last several months and is still under deliberation within the administration.

The Cuomo proposal presents, an incremental, near-term opportunity for hydraulic fracturing to move forward in New York, allowing the practice to establish its own environmental record based on the stringent NYSDEC regulatory program, in areas where its legality is not in dispute, and where its projected economic boost has been long-anticipated.

The New York Times Article by Danny Hakim is available here.