A Western New York-based natural gas and oil producer and petroleum resources developer recently notified the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) that it plans to sue the department if it does not take steps to inform local governments that they do not have the authority under state law to regulate natural gas exploration and development, or to attempt to prohibit such activities.
Lenape Resources President John Holko wrote to DEC Commissioner Joe Martens asking him to enforce Article 23 of the state’s Environmental Conservation Law, which designates DEC as the regulatory authority over mineral resource development. Local action to block natural gas development, Lenape wrote, is an attempt to illegally regulate the industry and supersede state law.
The issue of state pre-emption of locally-enacted bans emerges as the DEC is finalizing new regulations for horizontal drilling combined with high-volume hydraulic fracturing. The state currently allows vertical drilling and hydraulic fracturing.
Lenape and its predecessor companies have drilled wells in New York since 1982. Two towns where it has active wells recently passed moratoriums, effectively forcing the company to cease existing production and curtail plans for new wells. The DEC must respond to the letter within 10 days of receipt.
Unshackle Upstate continues to support the safe, responsible development of the state’s natural gas resources. This opportunity is simply too important for New York to miss. We look forward to DEC’s final regulations regarding hydraulic fracturing being issued soon, and for New Yorkers to finally be able to enjoy the economic benefits of shale gas.