Friday September 7, 2012

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- Town officials and landowners eager for shale gas drilling to begin in southern New York are pressing Gov. Andrew Cuomo to approve an environmental review that’s been four years in the making.

"This issue has been going on for four years," Town of Binghamton Supervisor Tim Whitesell said Thursday. "We understand the politics involved. But at the same time we are in a position where our residents are looking for this. It’s very frustrating that we see this economic boom just south of us in Pennsylvania and we’re not able to take part in it."

The Department of Environmental Con servation is completing work on an environmental impact review and new regulations for shale gas development using horizontal drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking." Opponents, citing possible adverse health, environmental and community impacts, have been holding rallies and running ads pressuring Cuomo to ban fracking in New York.

Whitesell and 21 other town supervisors in the gas-rich Marcellus Shale region sent a letter to Cuomo on Wednesday urging him "to direct the DEC to move forward as soon as possible with rules and regulations governing the process and to begin permitting."

The letter says more than 40 towns have passed resolutions in favor of drilling and hydraulic fracturing. More than 130 communities have enacted bans or moratoriums on shale gas development.

Matt Ryan, mayor of the city of Binghamton, took issue with the assertion that 40 towns have passed resolutions supporting drilling. Ryan, a fracking opponent whose city has banned gas drilling, said the resolutions only say that the decision is up to the DEC.

"They continue to perpetrate the myth that all these towns are for it," he said.

Cuomo has given no definite deadline for the DEC’s review to be finalized. The administration has met with industry leaders and environmental groups in recent weeks to discuss issues such as monitoring health impacts.

"The administration has not made a final decision on hydraulic fracturing, and any decision will be based on the science and the facts," Cuomo spokesman Matt Wing said Thursday.