According to news reports, Gov. Cuomo is working to finalize a plan that would authorize natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale in five counties along New York’s border with Pennsylvania, but only in communities that express support for the technology. (Read stories from the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.)

The counties are Broome, Chenango, Cortland, Chemung and Tioga, and are some of the most economically depressed in the state.  This is good news for those areas, as responsible natural gas development will provide a much-needed economic boost to the region.

The Governor has not confirmed or denied the news reports, which many viewed as a “trial balloon.”

While a spokesman for the Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York (IOGA) said that news that work on a new permit process is nearing completion “…is a positive step,” the industry is also expressing concerns about reports that local government would also be required to approve well developments.

New York State has not issued permits for natural gas development through high volume hydraulic fracturing since 2008, when the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) began its still unfinished environmental review of the process. The review could be finished some time in 2012, according to DEC.

We will continue to support our friends in the Southern Tier on this issue, and hope that DEC continues to make progress with its environmental review.