Outlook bleak for immediate future of gas drilling here, county committee says

NORWICH – With a worldwide glut of natural gas on the marketplace, prices just above $2.30 per MMBtu and accumulating investigations of environmental contamination caused by hydraulic fracturing, the future of Marcellus Shale drilling in New York State appears bleak.

Whether the Department of Environmental Conservation Agency lays out the ground rules for developing the state’s abundant supply of shale gas this year, next year or sometime after that is anyone’s guess.

Thus was the sentiment expressed at the first meeting of the Chenango County Natural Gas Committee for 2012. And, after four years of gathering monthly to prepare citizens for large scale Marcellus Shale drilling here, the decision was made to meet less often.

“Although there are hundreds of thousands of acres leased, I don’t think we’re going to see any drilling in New York State in the short term,” said committee President Peter C. Flanagan, D-Preston, on Tuesday. “The political will or courage to make a law is not going to happen.”

Chenango County Natural Gas Consultant Steven Palmatier, who has hired to develop business and job opportunities within the industry, was also reluctant to estimate a time for the state’s DEC to complete its permitting regulations, called SGEIS. The agency is currently sifting through more than 40,000 comments received on 1,500 pages of the draft plan, and awaiting a report from a panel charged with identifying the costs of shale drilling on agencies and local governments.

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