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Preliminary decision on propane fracking proposal could be made soon


BARTON - Progress is slowly being made on a "propane fracking" proposal that was made public last July, according to the attorney representing the five family group behind the effort.

Adam Schultz, who represents Tioga Energy Partners LLC, said that the group is in the process with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) of answering technical questions about the propane fracking proposal.

"We're hoping for a near-term result on a preliminary decision," he said. "It's not a final decision - we're still early in the process. Hopefully, we'll have that preliminary result within the month."

Last summer, the families spearheading the process applied for two permits for the alternative fracking process weeks after New York officially banned high-volume hydraulic fracturing (HVHF), which is the practice of injecting millions of gallons of a solution, primarily made of water and sand with a relatively small amount of chemical additives, to fracture shale rock and release natural gas.

According to Schultz, propane fracking is a different method altogether and is not subject to the ban since it replaces the water with a propane gel and uses significantly less resources.

"This is different than HVHF - it is its own project," he said. "This method has been pretty successful in places like Texas, Oklahoma and Canada and has even shown to be more efficient than HVHF. It takes care of the water issues since there's essentially no water used in this process, which also significantly reduces the trucking typically required in fracking."

Less than a week after it was announced that the permits were submitted, the Barton Town Board unanimously supported the project, which will take place on one well pad approximately three-and-a-half acres large.

When asked for comment on the status of the applications, the DEC provided the following statement:

"We have received the applications. As required by law, we will review the permit. DEC will follow the mandates in the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA), which could include requiring an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). There is no firm timeline for a decision."