Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Administration wants to begin N.Y. shale-gas drilling while awaiting results of impact study

The Obama administration supports a study of the effects of natural-gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale in upstate New York but doesn't want to wait for the results of the investigation to begin drilling in the area. "Gen. Peter 'Duke' DeLuca of the Army Corps of Engineers outlined the position in a letter written to Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.) and released today," Mike Soraghan of Greenwire reports for The New York Times. "The letter offers the first indication of the administration's position on gas drilling in the Northeast since the day after the Nov. 2 midterm election when President Obama highlighted gas drilling as a potential area of common ground with Republicans."

The drilling would take place in the watershed that supplies drinking water to New York City and Philadelphia. "DeLuca, the Army Corps' North Atlantic division engineer, is the federal representative on the Delaware River Basin Commission, which is developing regulations for gas drilling in eastern Pennsylvania and upstate New York," Soraghan writes. Hinchey and local environmentalists want the commission to maintain a drilling moratorium until results of the study are available, a process that could take years.

"The administration's position is to continue fully supporting the need for a cumulative impact study," DeLuca wrote. "Simultaneously, all these agencies support the DRBC's decision to develop and release draft natural gas regulations." DRBC last week issued "its proposed regulations, which would allow drilling to resume once they are finalized," Soraghan writes. "The commission is planning to hold several hearings during a 90-day comment period. DRBC, which we previously reported on here, is controlled by governors of Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware and New Jersey along with DeLuca. (Read more)

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