Local regulations in New York state will continue to play a
part in the issuance of permits for the controversial drilling
practice known as high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Joe
Martens said a township's stance on the natural gas drilling
technique will be considered before the department starts issuing
drilling permits in the state, the Ithaca Journal reported.
The state's DEC is reviewing proposed regulations and public
comments on the matter, and it is likely to start issuing the
first drilling permits by year's end.
Natural gas drilling remains a contentious issue as
communities weigh the pros and cons of the practice.
Albany, the state capital, became on April 17 the 95th
municipality in the state to impose a ban on hydraulic
fracturing, according to New Yorkers Against Fracking, a regional
group opposed to the drilling technique.
New York state, as of April 11, had 70 pending permits for
natural gas drilling, the vast majority of them from Chesapeake
The state sits atop part of the Marcellus Shale formation,
which is said to hold as much as 84 trillion cubic feet of
natural gas, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
The same formation in Pennsylvania has fueled a natural gas
rush, and industry proponents have been knocking on New York's
door, hoping to expand their drilling activities.
The industry's interest in fracking in New York state has
prompted some townships to react and enact local zoning rules
that prohibit the industrial drilling process for natural
In February 2012, the town of Dryden, south of Syracuse, won a
case against Anschutz Exploration, a Denver-based driller. The
town allowed its zoning laws to prohibit the company from
That court ruling was the first of its kind. While NY state
laws do regulate the oil and natural gas industry, the ruling in
February confirmed that state laws do not replace municipal
Fracking is not new in New York State, but high-volume
horizontal hydraulic fracturing is. The process involves the
pumping of water and drilling chemicals and sand deep
underground, and then over several thousand feet horizontally, at
increasing pressures, to fracture rock formations and extract
The drilling technique has led to fears of water
contamination, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has
not been able to definitively prove that natural gas drilling
Speaking to reporters Thursday, Martens, the NYS DEC
commissioner, said it will be easier to issue a permit in a town
that wants drilling.
"I think logically where there is less resistance and less
opposition and there is not a local land-use plan in place, I
think those will be easier to permit than in other places,"
Martens said, the Journal reported. "That's not to say that we're
going to prohibit them in other places, but it's a consideration
we have to carefully view."