The shale fuel meant to heat up factories and homes is energizing debate from New York down to West Virginia, the states sitting over the massive Marcellus Shale.
New York state regulators Friday posted online a report it prepared for Gov. Andrew Cuomo the previous week that opened the way for drilling in the Marcellus shale. The Natural Resources Defense Council is among those arguing that the New York’s Department of Environmental Conversation (DEC) has not gone far enough in distancing drilling activity from water sources.
The DEC recommended that hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, be permitted in areas more than 500 feet away from aquifers that supply drinking water to New York City; its report also puts wildlife conservation areas off limits to drilling. The recommendations, if accepted by Cuomo, open up vast tracts of lands in upper New York state that sit atop the Marcellus Shale.
Meanwhile, Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission is scheduled to vote this Friday on recommendations about the development of the energy source in the pro-development state. A grab-bag of issues is under consideration, including an impact fee on drillers and whether to keep drilling sites 1,000 feet away from aquifers, which is twice the distance recommended by New York’s DEC.
Lawmakers in West Virginia held hearings Monday on how shale development might bring the state thousands of construction jobs related to storage of ethane, a byproduct of shale drilling. Some 100 environmental activists rallied outside the state capitol to protest the potential for pollution of air and water they say would follow if drilling were allowed. New Jersey’s legislature passed an outright ban on fracking, though the state does not have an abundance of shale deposits anyway.
A recent report by the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Agency sifts through recent data showing natural gas production is at an all time high, and singles out the Haynesville and Marcellus shales for the biggest gains; the Marcellus shale a large part of which is in Pennsylvania and New York, but only Pennsylvania has profited from the shale deposit while New York has enforced a moratorium on drilling over environmental concerns.