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DEC study: NY fracking could boost economy

ALBANY -- Natural gas production in New York's part of the Marcellus Shale could bring nearly 25,000 full-time drilling-related jobs and more than 29,000 jobs in other parts of the economy, according to an environmental and economic impact study released yesterday by the Department of Environmental Conservation.

In announcing the study, DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said the agency will propose regulations for high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," of gas wells early next month. Environmental groups have urged the agency to enact regulations, rather than permitting guidelines, to give the rules the force of law.

The study proposes guidelines to protect the environment, human health and communities from potential harm related to gas production using fracking, which injects wells with millions of gallons of chemically treated water and sand a mile underground to fracture the shale and release trapped gas.

Martens said the state's priority is to protect drinking water and the environment while allowing natural gas development to proceed.

"This will enable New York's economy to benefit from this resource and the job opportunities that development is expected to bring," Martens said.

Permitting for new gas wells in the lucrative Marcellus Shale region, which extends from southern New York through parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia, has been on hold in New York since the environmental study was begun in 2008. Martens said no permits would be issued until the study is finalized, likely early next year.

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