Five years and hundreds of thousands of public comments later, what has amounted to a moratorium on shale-gas drilling in New York remains in place.
Tuesday marks the five-year anniversary of the state’s official move to put large-scale hydrofracking permit applications on hold, a period of time opponents of the technique say speaks to their strength and advocates say points to a display of political indecision.
The Joint Landowners Coalition of New York, a statewide group of pro-drilling landowners, is hosting a news conference in Binghamton to mark the anniversary. A five-year delay is “ridiculous” and landowners are “fed up,” the group wrote in a memo to local organizations.
Many environmental and anti-fracking groups, citing the potential for damage to water supplies and community character, have called on the state to either ban shale-gas drilling or implement a lengthier moratorium.
Then Gov. David Paterson officially put high-volume fracking on pause in New York on July 23, 2008, when he ordered the Department of Environmental Conservation to conduct an in-depth environmental review of the technique and craft permitting guidelines.
“Natural gas exploration has the potential to increase domestic supplies of natural gas, create jobs, expand the tax base and benefit the upstate economy,” Paterson said in a statement at the time. “My administration is committed to working with the public and local governments to ensure that if the drilling goes forward, it takes place in the most environmentally responsible way possible.”
The review, known as the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement, has continued ever since, with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration inheriting it when he took office in 2011. Last year, Health Commissioner Nirav Shah was asked to review the DEC’s work before a final fracking decision is made; Despite saying in January his work would be completed in “a few weeks,” Shah’s review remains incomplete.
(AP File Photo)