The state will not release the final draft gas drilling regulations to the public on Friday — even though Gov. Andrew Cuomo asked for the proposed rules by then. The document he gets won’t be the one that goes out for review.
Regardless of when the document is released, after three years of work, forces on both sides of the contentious issue have already drawn lines in the Marcellus shale, which sits beneath the Southern Tier.
Anti-drillers want fracking banned. They say it will pollute the pristine water of rural places like Sullivan, even though some experts say the gas beneath much of the county isn’t worth drilling.
“Anything short of a prohibition in the Catskills, including the Delaware watershed, is inadequate,” says Ramsay Adams, executive director of Catskill Mountainkeeper.
Opponents like Adams are bolstered by recent New York Times stories claiming the gas industry overestimated the quantity and profitability of shale gas.
The stories — which Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon calls “misleading at best” — prompted calls for investigations by lawmakers like Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-Hurley.
Drilling advocates say they’ve waited long enough for the economic benefits that drilling can bring to poor places like Sullivan. They point to decades of gas-drilling safety in New York state under strict regulations.
“New York’s natural gas industry has an extraordinary safety record and a proven record of environmental protection,” says Deborah Fasser, spokeswoman for the Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York.
She points out that the Times stories focus on other parts of the country besides New York, such as Louisiana and Texas.
“What has occurred in other states has not happened here,” she said.
“It is not necessarily the final draft form that will be presented for comment,” DEC spokesman Michael Bopp recently said of the document, the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement, that will ultimately regulate the controversial horizontal drilling method of “fracking.”
“We will meet the directive Friday,” added DEC spokeswoman Emily De Santis. “The details of the public release are still being worked out.”