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Thousands Petition Gov. To Scrap Nat. Gas Regulations


ITHACA -- Thousands of New Yorkers signed a petition asking Gov. David Paterson to scrap natural gas drilling regulations, and start from scratch.

Environmentalists, landowners -- even politicians -- are voicing concerns over the DEC's draft environmental impact statement on horizontal gas drilling.

Ithaca environmentalist Walter Hang found hundreds of spills not properly cleaned up after they were drilled using the traditional vertical method. He says if that could happen, horizontal drilling could also be problematic.

"The proposed Marcellus Shale regulations are totally inadequate. You have to go back to the drawing board, and we want this proposal withdrawn," said Hang.

Hang, and 6,000 other people who signed a letter to the governor, say DEC documents prove hydraulic fracturing has its problems. And before horizontal drilling begins, everything should be on the table -- including the original gas drilling regulations, published in 1992.

Hang says the DEC needs reform.

"You're looking at an agency that has terrific leadership -- unsurpassed in the country. But they've suffered brutal cuts in the last decade," said Hang.

But Chris Tucker of Energy In Depth, an organization that represents independent gas drillers, said, "This was a culmination of a three year process. This wasn't just done overnight."

Tucker says the DEC has done its due diligence with the horizontal regulations, and its time the state reaps the economic benefits.

"What they produced was essentially one of the most comprehensive and aggressive regulatory program as it relates to natural gas exploration in the entire country," said Tucker.

Hang says there is a safe way to drill for natural gas, but...

"You have to have an adequate regulatory bureaucracy literally to stand there and watch the drilling occur," said Hang.

Public comment on the draft supplemental environmental impact statement is open through the end of the month.