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The New York Department of Environmental Conservation posted its 700-plus-page blueprint for hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, in the lucrative Marcellus Shale region on its website Friday, allowing industry and environmental groups to start dissecting the proposed plan to allow gas drilling in an area where it’s been on hold since 2008.  The proposal to places large areas off-limits to gas drilling, which industry representatives belive is overly restrictive, while environmentalists believe the proposed watershed protections do not go far enough.

The proposed New York rules include a section describing several gas-drilling operation accidents in Pennsylvania and outlining New York’s measures designed to mitigate such incidents. A coalition of 47 health and environmental groups has called for a statewide ban on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, saying it poses unacceptable risks.  The Center New York has established Criteria For Evaluating Hydraulic Fracturing Projects.

Chesapeake Bay Watershed
In the proposal, the watersheds and state lands where gas-drilling would be prohibited amount to about 15 percent of the land in New York’s part of the Marcellus Shale, the nation’s largest-known natural gas reservoir. The formation underlies southern New York, much of Pennsylvania, and parts of Ohio, West Virginia and Western Maryland.

Some believe the proposal to place the watersheds off-limits to drilling doesn’t go far enough because it doesn’t include a sufficient buffer around the ancient underground tunnels that carry water to New York City from its upstate reservoirs.

The first wave of Marcellus development in New York would likely run along Interstate 86 from Binghamton through Tioga and Chemung counties, near the Millennium Pipeline.  Lawsuits could occur in areas where there are attempts by municipal governments to use zoning or local ordinances to regulate natural gas activities.  (The Daily Record, 7/11/2011)