Chasing Shale
NY Farmers Look to Circumvent Fracking Ban

Late last month Governor Andrew Cuomo put a bow on a fracking ban in New York state, but that hasn’t stopped some residents from exploring ways to tap the Marcellus shale bounty under their land. A group of farmers in a county just west of Binghamton submitted a proposal to frack not with water, but propane gel. The Ithaca Journal reports:

“We are outside of the state’s ban,” Tioga Energy Partners, LLC legal counsel Adam Schultz said. “The state banned high-volume hydraulic fracturing, but that’s not what we’re doing.”..Tioga Energy Partners is the contracting company working with the Snyder Farm Group on the drilling application. […]

The Snyder group is a collection of five Tioga County farm families who have leased land for natural gas development. The group is seeking to develop a 53-acre natural gas well in Halsey Valley, which is in the Town of Barton, Tioga County — about 25 miles south of Ithaca and 30 miles east of Elmira. […]

“What the state studied, and eventually decided to ban, was the use of high volumes of water for fracturing purposes,” Schultz said. “This process that we are proposing doesn’t use any water, the fracturing takes place using liquified petroleum gas.”

It says something about the opportunity this group of farmers sees in shale, that they’d be willing to go to these lengths to circumvent the ban. When that ban became official, we pointed out that such a blanket approach would inevitably alienate landowners keen on reaping the economic benefits from shale production, especially in a part of the country still looking for ways to replace bygone heavy industry.

Mineral rights allow individuals to choose whether or not they’d like to live with the drawbacks that hydraulic fracturing brings with it: noise, trucks, and as with any energy source, risks. Taking that choice away seems a ham-fisted way to deal with the controversial drilling practice. And in south central NY, there’s already work underway to circumvent that policy.

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