This sounds like a trial balloon to me:

Cuomo Plan Would Limit Gas Drilling to a Few Counties in New York

The plan, described by a senior official at the State Department of Environmental Conservation and others with knowledge of the administration's strategy, would limit drilling to the deepest areas of the Marcellus Shale rock formation, at least for the next several years, in an effort to reduce the risk of groundwater contamination.

Even within that southwest New York region -- primarily Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Steuben and Tioga Counties -- drilling would be permitted only in towns that agree to it, and would be banned in Catskill Park, aquifers and nationally designated historic districts.

The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deliberations in the administration are still continuing.

It sounds like convergence toward a classic Albany compromise, through the executive branch and possibly with the cooperation of the legislature. I suspect (but I'm not certain) that implementing this would also shut down the Anschutz lawsuit against the Town of Dryden and the similar landowner lawsuit against the Town of Middlefield.

I also wonder how and if this will apply to the much deeper Utica Shale - yes, it's further down, but the SGEIS didn't spend much time talking about the differences. The westernmost county mentioned here is Steuben, so I'm guessing they haven't gotten there yet. We'll see.

(Modified version of an article on Living in Dryden.)


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