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Gas Industry Willing to Pay for Extra DEC Regulation


ITHACA -- As the end of the year approaches, and with it the end of the Department of Environmental Conservation's public comment period on regulations governing expanded natural gas drilling in New York State, some in the gas industry say they're open to more regulation -- and they're willing to pay for it.

The debate over horizontal fracturing in the Marcellus Shale has been fierce.

Proponents argue it will result in huge economic benefits for the state and country; opponents say the risks could outweigh the rewards if the industry isn't properly regulated.

Now the industry admits that extra regulation is necessary.

Chris Tucker works for a Washington D.C.-based lobbying group called Energy in Depth.

"There's 516 trillion cubic feet of gas and potentially a trillion dollars of revenue," he said.

"It's an economic game changer not just for New York but also potentially for the country.

"We know we have to do it right, we know we're going to be watched like hawks. That's something we welcome. These guys wanna be regulated, and they want to be regulated right," he added.

That means the industry has something in common with environmentalists. They believe the current regulations are insufficient as well.

"The benefits of gas are beyond dispute," according to Walter Hang of Ithaca based environmental group Toxics Targeting. "We have to have energy in America."

"The problem is getting Marcellus Gas could have unprecedented pollution problems."

He believes a number of spills and incidents of contamination he has documented prove that the existing DEC regulations are ineffective, especially since the DEC didn't even know about some of the cases.

Hang's group is pushing for the DEC to withdraw the current Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. He believes the current form of the supplemental statement is flawed and remains insufficient.

He has collected over 8,000 signatures petitioning for the document to be re-drafted.