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As the review of shale gas drilling in New York is being wrapped up by state environmental regulators, opponents of hydraulic fracturing, a drilling method that is becoming increasingly popular among drillers, are taking a local approach. They do this by supporting, and sometimes lobbying, for the enactment of planning and zoning laws that prohibit the practice.
This home rule strategy will be the focal point of environmental groups in the new legislative session which will begin on Wednesday with Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivering a state-of-the-state address in Albany.
A measure that would give veto power to local governments over natural gas drilling projects through zoning authority is being planned. Sen. James Seward, a Republican from Oneonta, who is co-sponsoring the proposed measure, also called on Commissioner Joe Martens of the Department of Environmental Conservation, to address the necessity for a home rule authority within regulations that the agency of Martens is proposing.
The core of the issue is hydraulic fracturing, which is also known as fracking, which opponents say could contaminate water supplies. The natural-gas industry, on the other hand, is saying that the method has been used safely for many decades now.
The Department of Environmental Conservation is receiving until January 11 public comments on its environmental impact review and proposed rules for gas drilling that use high-volume hydraulic fracturing.