Gas Drillers Called Polluters In New York, PA

Jim Brown
 
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The Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York has urged Governor Patterson to stand behind his draft of the State Energy Plan, which supports the expansion of gas exploration in the Marcellus Shale. This is in response to multiple efforts to halt the drilling as dangerous and polluting.

The IOGA believes that New York should not bow to the environmental activists attempting to stop the drilling. The state has been involved in a two-year process to produce an environmental impact statement on gas exploration and production in the state.

The new draft regulations propose stringent new regulatory standards to monitor drilling in the Marcellus Shale. The state claims the new rules will assure the public the drilling is conducted safely and without polluting the ground water. By continuing to allow the drilling the state also receives millions in fees for its budget. You think maybe there was a conflict of interest there in letting the fox guard the henhouse?

You may remember there is a growing movement underway in New York to ban drilling in the Marcellus shale for fear of polluting the fresh water supply for nine million New Yorkers.

Governor Patterson tried to placate protestors by extending the public comment period but I seriously doubt anyone actually expected the state committee to cut its budgetary throat by banning drilling.

New York City is asking New York State to ban drilling in the watershed.

If the drilling can be done safely it would be a boon to New Yorkers because the close proximity to natural gas supply would mean that heating and air conditioning costs would be cheaper and cleaner not having to depend on heating oil and coal.

Nearby in Lackawanna County Pennsylvania Exco Resources has been ordered to cease operations and halt drilling in the shale. The county gave Exco a permit last summer to drill near the Skyline Public Golf Course. When Exco began drilling the township of Greenfield ordered them to stop saying it was not legal to drill in their township.

Exco won the rights to drill in the area by working a deal with the state for $2,100 an acre and an 18% production royalty. It would appear on the surface that environmental protestors were causing the shutdown but the real cause may be because Greenfield is not getting the benefit of any of the fees.

A clean water advocate said, "Our elected official are going to have to make a decision, are they going to protect the public health or are they going to put profits ahead of the health of the citizens?" Duh, that is a hard one. I bet I know how that is going to end.

The Exco CEO said they would continue "working" with the township and will ensure they are in full compliance with "all governing jurisdictions." Insert the word payment in place of compliance and I am sure that rig will be humming again soon.

Jim Brown

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