Does more gas really mean more jobs?

NORWICH – A spokesperson for New York’s environmental protection agency would not confirm that discussions for more staffing in the mineral resources division are underway, but local natural gas industry followers say more people in the field will be necessary once Marcellus Shale permitting is given the green light.

“Staffing levels are funded through the state budget and are a negotiation between the Governor’s office and the legislature. I’m not going to characterize whether there have been discussions (about staffing) or not,” said New York Department of Environmental Conservation’s press representative Yancey Roy.

Regulators last fall halted permitting for horizontal drilling in wells targeting the Marcellus and other shale formations because of the technique used, called hydro fracturing. At the direction of Governor David Paterson, the NYSDEC has been compiling a report on how waste water from the practice will be handled and treated, along with other environmental concerns associated with drilling.

The completed Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS), which Roy predicted would be released in early summer, is expected to unleash a rash of Marcellus Shale permits.

Norse Energy, which has substantial acreage leased in the Marcellus in Madison, Chenango and Broome counties, continues to be approached by an increasing number of individual landowners and coalitions seeking input in taking leases. This, in spite of a fall in natural gas prices from about $8 last October to about $4 today.

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