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Local News

December 12, 2012

New rules on drilling raise ire, skepticism

(Continued)

Parker said he was concerned the Cuomo administration is bowing to “ideologues” locked into opposing gas drilling, despite what Parker claims are the enormous economic benefits of allowing shale gas extraction.

Gas industry lawyer Thomas West of Albany, involved in an effort to overturn the town of Middlefield’s ban on hydrofracking, said the revised regulations will ultimately discourage drilling.

“We’re taking the highest environmental bar in the world and making it even higher,” West told The Daily Star on Tuesday. “Although industry welcomes a high bar, it has to be an attainable bar. It’s going to be more expensive to drill in New York than it will be in other states. That will slow down the rate of return of industry to New York state.”

West said he expects gas drilling permits will be issued by the state agency by mid-2013. However, he cautioned that it is probable those permits will likely face court challenges from anti-drilling groups.

“I don’t know of too many companies who will want to come in and invest in the permit only to find out the Department (of Environmental Conservation) can’t issue it,” West said.

Robert Nied, the director of the Schoharie County-based Center for Sustainable Rural Communities, an organization that opposes hydrofracking, said the issuance of revised regulations before the health assessment has been completed “gives you the impression that we’re on the track to issue permits.”

“There seems to be some momentum to start issuing permits at some point,” Nied said. As for Cuomo, he noted, “We have seen no indication that he is not going to permit” hydrofracking.

Cobleskill Village Mayor Mark Galasso, who backs the natural gas industry in its quest to drill in New York, said he believes the Department of Environmental Conservation should be applauded for being what he called “the most thorough environmental protection agency in the world.”

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