New York Begins Hearings on Gas Drilling Bans

New York Begins Hearings on Gas Drilling Bans

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will hold the first of four public hearings on Wednesday, November 16 in the Finger Lakes Village of Dansville. The state, which has not issued a permit for the hydraulic process known as hydrofracking or “fracking,” will begin hearings on the regulations which govern the process. Opponents of the drilling fear that the water supplies will be contaminated with either leaked methane or chemicals added to the fracking water, which is used to free the natural gas from the shale rock.

The issue of natural gas drilling has brought forth passionate responses from both groups for and against the fracking process. Industry groups fear that the regulations would be so restrictive that drillers would avoid the state of New York, while environmentalist groups fear the rules would be too lax to protect both the environment and public health. While drilling in Pennsylvania has been steady since 2008, followed by West Virginia and Ohio, New York landowners have yet to make money from their gas leases and have expressed their frustration towards the delay in developing regulations in the state of New York.
The DEC Commissioner Joe Martens has stated that fracking is the most important environmental issue in New York and that permits will not be issued until the agency has the resources in place to enforce safe rules. A state advisory panel is also working to determine the costs for state and local governments to oversee the development of thousands of wells, in addition to raising those funds. The final rules are expected to be released next year and permit applications will then be taken and reviewed.

The first of the hearings, scheduled for November 16, is set to begin at 1:00pm. Additional hearings are set for November 29, 2011 in Sullivan County, New York and November 30, 2011 in New York City. A rally is planned for 12:00pm for the November 16 hearing outside of the Dansville Middle School in Finger Lakes, which is where the hearing is set to take place.

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