More Delay Tactics, Elected Officials in NY Actively Oppose Drilling in the Marcellus Shale

New York State’s future with drilling in the Marcellus Shale continues to be cloudy at best. While MDN believes drilling should start—now—hoping and wishing will not make it happen and New York landowners have to face the cold, hard reality it may not happen until summer 2011 at the very earliest (if indeed it ever happens). Now that the NY Department of Environmental Conservation is proposing two sets of rules for drilling—one for the New York City and Syracuse watershed areas, the other for everyone else—anti-drillers are using it as a wedge issue.

Must be fun being an anti-drilling person in NY. First, you say over and over and over again that drilling in the Marcellus in the watershed may contaminate New York City’s water supply. And so, when finally the DEC throws up its hands and says, “OK, we’ll take drilling in the watershed off the table,” the new argument becomes, “See! See! If it’s not safe for the watershed, it’s not safe anywhere!” Gotta love that twisted logic. Point of fact: Hydraulic fracturing is safe everywhere, including the watersheds.

Here’s some of the latest opposition to drilling from New York’s elected leaders:

Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, D-Kingston, chairman of the Assembly’s Energy Committee, and Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton, D-Ithaca, are preparing legislation that will require the same drilling regulations for all state watersheds, including the Delaware.

Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, D-Forestburgh, recently co-sponsored a bill calling for a moratorium on drilling at least until a federal study on the impact of “fracking” on drinking water is complete — in about two years.

And on Friday, Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-Hurley, called on the Delaware Basin Commission, which approves withdrawals of Delaware River water used for “fracking,” to conduct an environmental impact study on the cumulative effects of those withdrawals before it considers any applications.*

So, let’s recite the playbook: Claim it’s not safe. Claim it pollutes water supplies. And when all else fails, call for “let’s go slow and do more studies” and try to delay drilling for at least 2-3 more years to give the anti-drilling forces time to solidify opposition and completely kill it forever.

And lest PA thinks they’re clear of all this, you’re not. The Delaware River Basic Commission has effectively blocked drilling in the Delaware River watershed for now. And your own U.S. Senator, Bob Casey, is asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to get involved in the situation in Dimock, PA.

*Middletown Times Herald-Record (May 2) – Legislators want drilling rules fairly crafted