Legislators tackle natural gas concerns

NORWICH – With the new July 1 deadline set for environmental regulators to present permitting regulations for high water volume hydraulic fracturing, New York’s legislators have been busy.

There are now about 50 bills on the docket dealing with everything from water and road use ordinances to stopping all drilling activity in the state completely.

“It seems to be a popular project for the legislators,” wrote Chenango County Planner Rena Doing in an e-mail that attached a list of bills her office was aware of.

Yesterday, the New York Assembly’s Democratic leadership passed legislation for a one-year ban on hydraulic fracturing of oil and natural gas reserves to further study the environmental impact of the deep drilling, especially on drinking water.

The bill (A.7400 Sweeney/S.5592 Carlucci) would effectively shut down an existing industry that the state Department of Environmental Conservation has regulated for decades.

Former Governor David Paterson vetoed the same bill late last year because it went beyond targeting high water volume hydraulic fracturing to encompass a moratorium on all oil and gas well drilling – and perhaps thousands of jobs – in New York.

“The cessation of such activity, even for a limited period, would have substantial negative financial consequences for the state, local governments, landowners and small businesses involved in conventional oil and gas production,” Paterson declared.

The Independent Oil & Gas Association of New York – an organization representing nearly 400 industry employers with 4,500 workers in New York – opposes the Sweeney bill because it targets a technology that has been used safely by oil and gas companies across New York since the middle of the 20th century.

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