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Tioga County landowners look towards propane fracking


A moratorium on hydraulic fracturing is still in place in New York State. But now a group of Tioga County landowners are exploring an alternative to the controversial drilling technique. Our Melissa Kakareka has more.

TIOGA COUNTY, N.Y. -- A group of Tioga County landowners are hoping to bring an alternative form of natural gas drilling to the region.

"It's extremely environmental and it's one we think that can be applied here with great results," said Tioga County Landowners Group Chairman Nick Schoonover.

It's called propane fracking. The Tioga County Landowners Group entered into an agreement with Ecorp and Gasfrac Energy to bring the technique to Tioga County this week.

The process uses gelled liquid petroleum gas instead of water to break up rock and release natural gas in the earth.

"The LPG as a gelled agent goes into the earth transporting the sand, fracturing out into the shale and the LPG then at a point returns to a liquid state and then a gaseous state. So when it returns to the surface of the earth, it returns in a gaseous state with some methane," explained Schoonover.

The method would open up about 135,000 acres of land for drilling in Tioga County. Supporters say it is better for the environment than regular hydrofracking and also requires less truck traffic. But some opponents disagree and are hoping to see a more thorough environmental impact study by the DEC.

"It is not a silver bullet in any sense that there is no pollution problems. It doesn't eliminate what I believe is most significant problem with fracking, which is the brine or produced water," said President of Toxics Targeting Walter Hang.

"The idea is to see how it's accepted by everyone. I think it's a good sound solution and one that I hope we can get with all the environmental community on and go ahead with, because I think it has tremendous merit," said Schoonover.

The DEC says they will follow the guidelines set up for the technique in 1992. They may also conduct additional environmental impact surveys as landowners begin applying for permits.