July 2012 Legislative Status Report
The Marcellus Shale stretches from West Virginia to the Southern Tier of New York and is the largest unconventional gas field in the world. The shale covers 63 million acres over six states with a potential for 500,000 well sites. Drilling the New York portion could lead to a huge economic boost for the state; however, without tight regulations, it could also cause environmental concerns.
Many communities in the Southern Tier of New York State have passed resolutions on drilling the Marcellus Shale in their towns or villages. While many are against, there are some towns that have passed resolutions in support of allowing drilling in their locality.
According to recent news reports, NYS Governor Cuomo is working on a plan that would allow drilling in the Marcellus Shale in five counties in the Southern Tier - Broome, Chenango, Cortland, Chemung and Tioga. Governor Cuomo has also previously stated his support for "home rule" in regards to drilling. New York is a home rule state, with laws at the local level superseding state laws. His expression of support for home rule means that even for counties in which drilling is allowed, it may not happen. If a town has passed a resolution banning drilling, then the State would most likely not issue permits for drilling in the shale in that town. Conversely, if a town has passed a resolution in support of drilling, then permits could be issued for that area.
Drilling of the Marcellus Shale would still be banned in Catskill Park, aquifers and nationally designated historic districts. Any drilling is contingent on final approvals from the State Department of Environmental Conservation, which is expected to come later this summer. It is anticipated that 50 permits will be issued for drilling initially.
The Amherst Chamber of Commerce supports legislation that would allow drilling and exploration of the Marcellus Shale in New York State in conjunction with stringent environmental policies that do not make drilling and exploration unrealistic or unattainable. While it is important to note that no final decisions have been made by the DEC or Governor Cuomo, the Chamber is encouraged by the possibility of limited drilling beginning in the Marcellus Shale.