This week will be important for the effort to get shale gas drilling moving in New York State. The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is conducting a series of four public hearings nominally to accept comments on the most recent changes to the draft drilling regulations, also known as the SGEIS (Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement). MDN says “nominally” because each of the four events will be used by both those for and against drilling to try and show their side has the most support.
One of the four hearings, in Binghamton on Thursday of this week, is likely to be the largest hearing outside of the New York City hearing later this month. MDN has received several email notices from landowner groups in favor of drilling, and from one group opposed. Both say similar things: These hearings are vitally important.
Yesterday’s Buffalo News has an excellent analysis for the prospects of shale gas drilling in New York, given New York’s extreme delays and proposed restrictive drilling regulations. MDN is a supporter of drilling in New York and has nothing but best wishes for landowners in our home state. But the stark reality, as we’ve been pointing out, is that “if you build it, they will come” makes for a nice movie, but doesn’t necessarily translate into reality for drilling in NY.
The federal Environmental Protection Agency and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry visited some of the families in Dimock, PA affected by methane migration last Thursday. The were particularly interested in getting copies of water sample results from entities other than the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection or Cabot Oil & Gas.
An issue that will be debated in coming months (and years) is whether or not to export some of the natural gas that America has in abundance now that the miracle of hydraulic fracturing has released it from shale formations. Some say it will help the U.S. achieve a better trade balance with other countries once again. Others say exporting will keep prices for natural gas higher than they otherwise would be for consumers.
The Department of Energy (DOE) has so far received five applications from companies that want to create terminals to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) to overseas markets—one of them has been approved. Just six years ago the natural gas industry was doing all it could to import LNG from foreign countries.
Politics in shale gas drilling is an unfortunate fact because the environment has been politicized. But that’s the reality. Anyone who thinks the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is not a political animal has their head in the sand. From its beginning, MDN has pointed out that the EPA is making a power grab—attempting to regulate oil and gas drilling via the back door by using legislation like the Clean Water Act.
Some on Capitol Hill, like Congressman Bob Latta (R-Ohio) who serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, agree. Rep. Latta posted an editorial on the Politico website last night that says, in part: