Pennsylvania

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Will New York’s Fracking Decision Matter to PA?

Mladen Antonov / AFP/Getty Images

A drill rig outside Waynesburg, PA.

New York’s decision on fracking may not have much of an effect on the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania for quite some time.

New York Public Radio reports the state’s Democratically controlled Assembly passed legislation today that would continue the current moratorium until 2015. Meanwhile, a similar ban is stalled in the state Senate.

But acccording to the Associated Press a critical bloc of New York senators appears to be aligning in favor of waiting to see results from a large-scale study by the Danville-based Geisinger Health System, which won’t be ready for several years:

 The Independent Democratic Conference, which shares control of the Senate with Republicans, said the Geisinger study and two other reviews on drinking water must be completed before Gov. Andrew Cuomo settles the five-year-old debate.

“We have to put science first. We have to put the health of New Yorkers first,” said Sen. David Carlucci, an IDC member representing Rockland and Westchester counties.

“We cannot afford to make a mistake,” said Sen. Diane Savino of Staten Island, another IDC member. “We are going to do this the right way, or we are not going to do it at all.”

Whatever New York decides, it won’t have much of an effect on gas drilling operations in Pennsylvania, at least in the near future, says industry spokesman Travis Windle, of the Marcellus Shale Coalition.

“If Albany decided today to move forward with natural gas development, would rigs leave Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, North Dakota? Not likely.”

Another factor is that most of the reserves in New York are dry gas, which has become less economically attractive.

“And we’ve seen a slowdown of drilling because of that,” says Windle.

However, he says Albany’s “hurry up and wait” approach to gas drilling sends the wrong message to the market and hurts landowners.

The idea that other states would poach business from Pennsylvania or that a severance tax would scare away the industry have been repeatedly raised as concerns by the Corbett administration.

 

 

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