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October 30, 2013

Shale Development in New York – A Regulatory Update and Comparison with Neighboring States

The recent boom in gas production from shale plays across the county has helped lift natural gas supplies to a record level in the United States, bringing energy independence closer to reality and providing urgently needed economic growth and prosperity.  While this has brought cheers from certain communities, the exploration and development of shale also has sparked significant controversy focused on a myriad of issues, including potential impacts to water resources, the constituents of hydraulic fracturing fluid, waste water disposal, economics, air impacts, community character, habitat fragmentation, and truck traffic.  States with shale resources have grappled with these issues in distinct ways.  New York halted development in July 2008 to study the potential impacts associated with shale development, specifically, the environmental issues associated with high-volume hydraulic fracturing – the technology necessary to successfully develop shale.  Other states similarly blessed with shale resources, took a different approach, allowing development to proceed while the only other states to halt or place a moratorium on development are those with little or no likelihood of commercial development.

I recently presented on this topic at the Association for Environmental Health and Sciences Foundation's 29th Annual International Conference on Soils, Sediments, Water, and Energy in Amherst, Massachusetts.  My talk covered the ongoing timeline relative to the New York regulatory process as well as where the courts are relative to local regulation of the industry in New York.  It also included a comparison of New York’s approach to shale development to that of other states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois and California.  The contrast is interesting and begs the question – if these other states have allowed hydraulic fracturing to proceed, why hasn’t New York despite over 5 years of study, analysis and public input?  

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