|drilling near Troy, PA|
“It’s putting drillers currently working in the state at risk,” Jim Smith said in a phone interview. Smith, who works with the NY Independent Oil and Gas Association of NY (IOGA-NY), explained that the moratorium could halt all natural gas development that uses hydraulic fracturing – not just drilling proposed for the Marcellus Shale.
“And that means vertical wells, too,” Smith said. In a press release IOGA claims that the bill, as written, could affect the vast majority of current (non-Marcellus) oil and gas exploration and development in New York State. It would bar the kind of existing safe drilling that has been in practice for many years in New York. It could also result in the potential loss of 5,000 industry jobs, threaten the future of more than 300 businesses and temporarily eliminate the $1 million in annual revenue the state collects from traditional drilling permit fees. (italics mine)
“Did they even read the bill before they voted?” Smith asked, referring to the 93 assembly members who voted aye.
The more pertinent question is whether the good folks at IOGA-NY read the bill – it takes but a minute, maybe two if you read real slow, and is very clear about what the moratorium is.
The moratorium, explains Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton, will allow the state more time to obtain a complete picture of environmental impacts from the technology. She would rather see the state wait until after the EPA completes their study before issuing new permits… but this is what ended up on the table – er, floor of the Assembly Monday night.
It wasn’t a shoo-in, either. Assembly members engaged in lengthy discussion, bringing numerous questions to the chair.
Did they know that vertical drilling would be affected? Most assuredly, Lifton said. The bill does not specify horizontal fracturing because the concern is protecting water and the environment from the numerous toxic chemicals used in the hydro-fracking process – regardless of how the well is drilled.
Lifton set the record straight: “The moratorium does not interfere with current drilling projects or permits that are in effect.” Indeed, anyone reading the actual text of the bill would notice that the first sentence clearly states the act establishes a “suspension of the issuance of new permits”.
Moreover, the end of the section just as clearly states that the act “shall not apply to permits issued prior to the effective date of this act which utilize hydraulic fracturing that are subject to renewal.”
So what about those scary claims by industry? Nonsense, says Lifton. “Drillers who already have permits may continue their operations and may renew their permits. This moratorium,” she emphasized, “will have very little impact on current drilling activity.”
As for those fear-mongering claims that farmers won’t be able to use hydro-fracking to drill water wells – the bill clearly states that the moratorium will affect “hydraulic fracturing for the purpose of stimulating natural gas or oil in low permeability natural gas reservoirs”. Nothing in there about going after water for the cows…
Please take a minute and read the bill here.