November 21, 2017

New York May Restart Review of Gas-Drilling Rules

New York State appears to be further slowing its effort to produce rules governing fracking, shorthand for the suite of drilling methods used to extract natural gas from deep shale deposits.
By Andrew C. Revkin, The New York Times, Sept. 28, 2012

New York State appears to be further slowing its effort to produce rules governing fracking, shorthand for the suite of drilling methods used to extract natural gas from deep shale deposits. The pressure to drill has fallen sharply along with gas prices, and in the face of inevitable litigation. [Sept. 30, 11:13 p.m. | Updated | Danny Hakim describes the reaction of drilling supporters and foes to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s latest move on fracking.]

The news is on Politics on the Hudson and Shale Gas Review, the blog of Tom Wilber, author of “Under the Surface: Fracking, Fortunes, and the Fate of the Marcellus Shale.” Here’s an excerpt and link to the rest:

New York officials crafting policy to regulate shale gas drilling amid unanswered health concerns will likely re-open the process to public hearings, essentially guaranteeing more momentum for the movement that has effectively stalled the industry’s advancement into the Empire State for more than four years.

Emily DeSantis, a spokeswoman for the Department of Environmental Conservation, said late this afternoon that agency officials expect to begin a new rulemaking process rather than try to meet a Nov. 29 deadline to complete a regulatory overhaul. The news comes a week after DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens announced that the agency will turn part of the review over to the Department of Health Commissioner Nirav Shah to address persistent questions about how shale gas development and high volume hydraulic fracturing will affect public health in communities where it is allowed.

“Given that DEC has said no regulations or final decision will be issued until the completion of Dr. Shah’s review, should high-volume hydraulic fracturing move forward, it is expected that a new rulemaking process would be undertaken,” DEC spokeswoman Emily DeSantis said. That process would include at least one public hearing although DeSantis said no timeframes had been made. [Read the rest.]

The rush to develop gas deposits in other parts of the Marcellus Shale, the vast area of ancient seabed underlying communities from Ohio through upstate New York, has deeply divided communities over balancing economic benefits and environmental and economic impacts. I spoke on energy and climate at Cornell University last Monday to an audience for whom the threat from drilling clearly dominated. In the presentation, sponsored by the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, I showed this short video to make the point that gas country over the border in Pennsylvania offers ammunition for almost any argument:

You can watch the talk and a long, and sometimes heated, question period here:

The divisions, and intensity, will never go away over gas drilling, to my mind, because the potency of the fears of direct impacts will always trump any argument involving broader tradeoffs, like the merits of moving more electricity production from coal to gas.