New York Gets Fracking

Marcellus Acquifers

New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation released recommendations on hydraulic fracturing on July 1, 2011 designed to remove the moratorium on use of the technique for recovering oil and natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica Shales that underlie the state.

Concerns had been raised about the impact of fracking on drinking water in New York, and the recommendations are designed to respond to that concern by prohibiting surface drilling within 2,000 feet of public drinking water supplies; on the state’s 18 primary aquifers and within 500 feet of their boundaries; within 500 feet of private wells, unless waived by landowner; in floodplains; on principal aquifers without site-specific reviews; and within the Syracuse and New York City watersheds.

What’s left after all those limitations, you ask?

According to NYDEC more than 80 percent of the Marcellus Shale where oil and gas drilling is viable would are still accessible under these recommendations with permits that assure drillers meet the recommended guidelines.

NYDEC’s draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement reviewed the experience and regulations in other states and got 13,000 public comments in considering real or imagined impacts.

The NYDEC says its fracking recommendations are ‘the most comprehensive measures in the country to protect not only drinking water but land, air and environmentally sensitive areas’.

Why New York is Lifting its Fracking Moratorium?

The bottom line is simple, while environmental activists may hate hydraulic fracturing for making more fossil fuel available economically, the potential for economic recovery, growth and job creation from the rapidly growing investment in unconventional oil and gas is very real.  New York does not want to miss out of the jobs, tax revenue and economic growth that the resurgence of America’s domestic energy production is producing.

Nothing concentrates the mind of politicians nearly as well as the near term prospect of being left out of a good news story.  Not even the US EPA has found reason to object to hydraulic fracturing.  The practice has been used since the 1980’s with little evidence of adverse impact.

The benefits are, on the other hand, real and tangible and green—as in dollars and jobs and tax revenue!


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