Thursday, June 17, 2010

Lawmakers in NY and PA weigh a gas-drilling moratorium

Calls for a time-out on natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale that runs through both New York and Pennsylvania has gone from talk to legislation in both states.

In Pennsylvania, where natural gas drilling is moving at an aggressive pace despite a fracking well blowout at one site and reports of poisoned wells at others, a new bill proposes a one-year ban on drilling on state forest lands and private property while a commission considers the ramifications.

Joe Sestak, the Democratic congressman who is running for the U.S. Senate, also has endorsed the concept of a moratorium.

On Tuesday, Sestak also praised the Delaware River Basin Commission for extending its moratorium on permits for natural gas production wells to also include natural gas exploratory wells in the watershed area over which it holds regulatory jurisdiction.

In New York, where drilling already is frozen while the state prepares its own set of regulations, the state Legislature is considering two bills that would make that defacto moratorium explicit for the most intense drilling technologies upstate. One would extend the current moratorium until 120 days after the release of a federal study of the industry’s impact on water quality, while another would impose a one-year moratorium.

The bill that imposing a one-year moratorium has received the backing of key lawmakers in the Senate and Assembly and was released by the Senate Environmental Conservation committee on Monday. If enacted, the measure would suspend hydraulic fracturing drilling until June 1, 2011.  The legislation has heightened the public divide between anti-drilling advocates and property owners who are hoping for substantial returns from property leases with drilling companies.

The Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York, a moratorium opponent, issued a statement on the legislation, asserting: "What New York needs now is leadership toward a new energy economy for our state, rather than another bill rife with inaccuracies and false assumption." 

Smart Moves on Drilling in New York
Fracking the Marcellus Shale: Disaster ahead?

Out-of-control well spews--in Pennsylvania

DEP attorney to watch over gas drilling in PA

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