A few weeks ago, the NY State Senate passed a bill favoring the gas drilling industry in New York that included a reduction in the setbacks required for wells, broadly permitting ‘horizontal drilling’ and streamline the gas well permit process. That bill has been sitting on Gov. Paterson’s desk, awaiting his signature. Today was the deadline for his signature or veto, and he gave little indication of which way he would go. Well, today he signed the bill into law. BUT, at the same time he also ordered an overhaul of the system to determine the environmental impacts of drilling on an are. (See the report on the PressConnects site) According to the report, “Paterson also directed officials from the state Dept.
of Environmental Conservation to assess drilling’s impact on water
resources, wetlands, air quality, aesthetics, noise, traffic, community
character and cumulative impacts on communities.”
While I supported Paterson vetoing the bill so it could be reconsidered in a more thoughtful fashion next year, the Governor’s recognition that there needs to be more study before opening the floodgates to drilling, is encouraging. Paterson’s move also indicates an understanding that the expansion of gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale is a major event with significant impacts on communities, infrastructure and the environment. We can also take heart that New York state can study projects right into the ground (no pun intended), and its likely that extensive and comprehensive environmental and community impact studies could possibly delay drilling for years if they’re undertaken with New York’s “fast track efficiency.”