(Updates throughout with comments from Bloomberg, natural gas
NEW YORK Oct 1 New York State's proposed new
environmental rules allowing drilling for natural gas in the
multi-state Marcellus Shale formation face opposition from
environmental groups and, potentially, from New York City.
The proposed state rules would allow drilling around water
wells but require extra reviews, depending on whether the work
was within 2,000 feet or 1,000 feet of the well.
Some green groups want buffer zones created around upstate
reservoirs to protect the city's water from pollution. Mayor
Michael Bloomberg said he had not yet read the proposed rules,
while executives for energy companies said the regulations
would raise natural gas drilling costs but help calm public
fears of water contamination.
Kevin Cahill, a Democrat who chairs the Assembly's energy
committee, said the concept was controversial although new fuel
supplies could shield consumers from price spikes. New York
gets 95 percent of its natural gas from other regions with less
strict environmental rules, Cahill said in a statement.
"The extraction of natural gas we extract from other states
is not environmentally benign," he said. "New Yorkers simply
cannot leave their environmental concerns at the state line,"
New York City's Council Speaker Christine Quinn said she
was skeptical the state's rules would protect the city's water
system, which carries a billion gallons a day for nearly 9
"We have already heard reports from Pennsylvania about the
negative consequences of gas drilling on water resources in
that state," Quinn, a Democrat, said in a statement issued late
The huge Marcellus Shale formation, which extends across
much of Pennsylvania and parts of West Virginia, Ohio and New
York, is likely the nation's largest shale reservoir.
Shale gas, or gas trapped in sedimentary beds, is seen as
having the potential to provide the United States with
affordable fuel that will help drive economic growth, reduce
dependence on foreign oil and limit emissions for decades.
But concerns are growing that the drilling techniques used
to fracture the gas-bearing rock could contaminate drinking
water. Quinn called for amending the federal Safe Drinking
Water Act to tighten rules for hydraulic fracturing.
In this process, also known as fracking, a mixture of
water, chemicals and other materials like sand are pumped into
the shale formation to split the rock and free the trapped
While the chemicals used may be only a small part of the
mix of fracking fluid, some are considered toxic or are known
causes of cancer, raising concerns about the potential for
ground water contamination.
Bloomberg told reporters the city has bought land in the
watershed to protect the city's drinking water. "Unless we are
satisfied, you can rest assured we will fight that," he said.
Brad Gill, executive director of the Independent Oil and
Gas Association of New York, said the new regulations would
increase costs but would not make gas drilling impossible.
"They certainly will increase the cost of exploring for and
producing our gas," he said. "It's an increased burden but I
think it's doable."
(Reporting by Joan Gralla and Joseph Silha in New York, Jon
Hurdle in Philadelphia; Editing by David Gregorio)