Governor Andrew Cuomo's administration has floated a plan to allow high-volume hydraulic fracturing in the deepest parts of the Marcellus Shale. And critics are speaking out.
The New York Times reported on the plan last week, crediting anonymous senior Department of Environmental Conservation officials as sources.
The plan would allow high-volume hydraulic fracturing in portions of the Marcellus Shale deeper than 2,000 feet, which would effectively limit fracking to the Southern Tier. The plan is meant to limit the risks of groundwater contamination while allowing some natural gas development, the Times said.
The plan would ban fracking in state parks, the Catskill Park, aquifers, and national historic districts. It would permit fracking only in communities that approve of the technique; quite a few communities have passed moratoriums or bans. Many critics are concerned about the effects fracking could have on water bodies and supplies, and whether it could harm air quality.
Nedra Harvey, co-founder of the local anti-fracking group R-CAUSE, criticizes the proposal. A few people shouldn't be allowed to decide "the water situation for the entire state," she says.
Penfield resident Joyce Herman says she has compassion for the Southern Tier's struggling small businesses and small farms. But she worries that fracking could cause problems of its own, especially given the growth in popularity of organic and local food and wine.
"It doesn't seem like a rational solution to a real problem," Herman says.
Brighton has passed a one-year moratorium on fracking and related activities. During that time, the town will review zoning laws and enact permanent protections, says Supervisor Bill Moehle.
Brighton's long-term comprehensive plan does not call for heavy industry, he says.
Moehle says his concern with the plan reported by the Times is that once fracking gets a foothold in the state, it'll be increasingly difficult to prevent its spread.
"You never know what a trial balloon really means," Moehle says.