Will Governor Paterson Slow Down Natural Gas Drilling?

By WKTV News

(WKTV) - A group of Central New York environmental activists are urging Governor David Paterson to withdraw the DEC's draft of regulations for a new type of natural gas drilling, thus putting the drilling on hold, or at least give citizens more time to comment on the draft. The deadline for public comment is on December 31st.

Vertical drilling has been done in New York State for more than a century, but under the new technology called horizontal fracking, a company would drill down some four thousand feet below the earth, then drill horizontally for another 4000 feet in each direction to frack, or fracture what is called marcellus shale. The fracturing would release the natural gas that is trapped between the pockets of rock.

Even though the regulations are not already in place, hundreds of New York landowners have already signed leases with gas companies to use their land to drill on. The environmental groups say the draft does not address numerous environmental concerns, and fear the final version won't either.

Meanwhile a group of business and economic development groups across the state led by the Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York spoke out today as well, urging the governor to go forward with his energy plan saying, "We believe that new york cannot afford to turn away or postpone the tremendous opportunity for economic resurgence...and a clean energy supply... presented by the marcellus shale. The extremely stringent requirements proposed by the SGEIS draft provide the public with the necessary oversight that natural gas exploration and extraction will be conducted in an environmentally safe manner."

The governor's office released this statement:

"Governor Paterson is fully committed to protecting New York's environment and it's drinking water, and the state continues to have some of the strictest environmental regulations in the nation. Earlier this year, in response to calls for more time to evaluate DEC's Supplement to the Generic Environmental Impact Statement for gas drilling (SGEIS) , the Governor extended the comment period to 90 days. To date, more than 10,000 comments have been filed and DEC will review comments from all stakeholders before a final GEIS is issued."

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