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Advocates say that the state of New York stands to lose any chance of reaping the economic benefits offered by the shale-gas boom if its local governments will be permitted to disallow drilling through zoning ordinances.
According to Terry Engelder, a professor of geosciences at Pennsylvania State University, New York sits on the northern rim of the Marcellus Shale, which may contain enough natural gas which can meet U.S. consumer demands for two decades.
Last year, New York iposed a moratorium on the drilling process called hydraulic fracturing in order to give time for state regulators to develop rules. Legislators are considering a bill which would allow municipalities to disallow the practice, a right which several say they already have.
During a a telephone interview, Tom West, an Albany attorney who represents the Denver-based Anschutz Exploration Corp. and many other drilling companies, said, “Giving local governments the power to regulate would be the kiss of death for natural-gas development in New York State.”
Several states, from Wyoming to West Virginia, sitting atop shale formations are already cashing in on the so-called fracking method. This is despite the fact that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is still conducting studies, with an eye on possible regulations, on the effects of the practice on drinking water.
Earthquakes that hit Youngstown area in Ohio last year are being studied by state officials to see if they are related to fracking. The practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, involves forcing millions of gallons of chemically treated water and sand beneath the earth’s surface to free trapped gas.