New York State Approach to Permitting

December 22, 2011

New York State’s approach to hydraulic fracturing permitting appears to differ from the approach other states have taken.  As of this date, we are well aware of the reported incidents involving natural gas exploration using hydraulic fracturing in other states such as Pennsylvania,Texas and Colorado, as well as others.  Hydraulic fracturing combined with horizontal drilling as a technique is new, but these other states issue permits based upon the knowledge base and experience accumulated from vertical well drilling. New York State, however, has the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR), which required a full analysis of the horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing of the deep, low permeability shale found in the Marcellus and Utica Shale formations.  This review of the science and current knowledge base related to horizontal drilling prior to issuing drilling permits gives New York State an opportunity to prevent accidental spills, evaluate risks and propose mitigations to minimizing risks before issuing permits.