Gas driller sues NY, town over local moratorium

Published on NewsOK Modified: November 29, 2012 at 7:16 pm •  Published: November 29, 2012
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The DEC has had a moratorium on gas wells using horizontal drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing since it began an environmental impact review in 2008. The technology frees gas by injecting a well with millions of gallons of chemically treated water at high pressure to crack rock deep underground. Environmental groups say it could contaminate air and drinking water supplies or cause other harm, but drillers and the DEC say state regulations and standard industry safeguards protect against harm from drilling and fracking.

A deadline for finalizing new regulations expired on Thursday, but the DEC sought a 90-day extension to allow a health impact study to be completed and issued revised regulations that will be open for public comment from Dec. 12 to Jan. 11.

Lenape's wells, drilled in sandstone deposits, aren't subject to the state's moratorium because they're vertically drilled and use low-volume fracking rather than the newer technologies necessary for shale gas development.

A Pittsburgh lawyer representing Lenape, Michael Joy, said papers filed with the lawsuit demonstrate that Avon officials weren't acting to prevent a problem caused by gas drilling but were bowing to political pressure from anti-drilling groups.

Local control over gas drilling has also been an issue in other states in the Marcellus Shale region, which includes southern New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. The gas industry says local laws create a patchwork of regulation that thwarts development.

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