New York Governor Looks to Limit Fracking to Five Counties

New York Governor Looks to Limit Fracking to Five CountiesNew York appears set to allow limited hydraulic fracturing (fracking) activity along its Pennsylvania border.

According to a Bloomberg report this week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo will likely encounter both rejoice and criticism over the proposed decision to grant permits to natural gas and drilling companies looking to open new wells to search for energy reserves hidden in the massive Marcellus shale formation underlying much of the southern part of the state.

And while some see the move – which has not been finalized – as a way for the state of New York to recover from an economic downturn, especially in its more rural areas, many believe Cuomo is catering to the pressure from industry lobbyists and ignoring environmental safety data which suggests fracking drilling in the state could lead to the contamination of clean water that’s used by millions of people in several states.

The report indicates that no final decision has been made but there were widespread reports earlier this week from various sources indicating that Cuomo would likely soon allow fracking drilling in certain areas of the state. Bloomberg News reports that five counties bordering Pennsylvania’s Northern Tier will be picked for localized drilling activity. Fracking would not be allowed in areas where local municipalities have enacted bans on it. The governor’s proposal would allow drilling in Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Steuben, and Tioga counties. The local county governments would have to agree to allow drilling before permits are issued, Bloomberg adds, citing a New York Times report on the same story.

The Cuomo administration’s proposed granting of fracking permits in the state essentially puts an end to the moratorium on it in place since 2010 when it was passed by then-Gov. David Patterson. Cuomo said he would wait until state agencies conducted a full safety review of fracking’s impact on the state’s natural resources, environment, and economy before allowing the drilling to commence. Those reports are believed to be finalized soon and Cuomo has vowed to wait until they’re released before allowing any proposed drilling practices.

Fracking in neighboring Pennsylvania has led to a multitude of problems and New York has slowed any progress in allowing drilling in part because of the technology’s failures there and in other areas of the country. Proponents and critics of fracking have waged strong battles for their arguments.

New York sits atop the massive Marcellus shale formation, once thought to contain trillions of dollars in natural gas reserves. Fracking can release those deposits hidden in the rock but the process is believed to have a direct negative impact on the environment, blamed for polluting nearby water wells, underground aquifers, groundwater, and the air around wells. People living nearest to active wells believe fracking has caused methane gas and other toxic and carcinogenic agents to accumulate in their water wells, poisoning it beyond use.

Natural gas and drilling companies have used loopholes in lax federal regulations governing the process to create a boom in drilling activity in the last half of the last decade, opening thousands of wells nationwide, many in the Mid Atlantic region, atop the Marcellus shale.

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