Governor Andrew Cuomo will open his state to a natural gas drilling technique that has been blamed for water contamination in other parts of the country. Up until now, New York has been the only state to sit out the fracking boom. The state is a big prize for the energy industry, but drillers will have to comply with tough regulations.
One day before a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is set to expire, state regulators offered a preview of their plans for regulating the controversial natural gas drilling technique.
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a technique for getting gas out of tiny air pockets deep underground. In Texas, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere, it's been linked with a variety of problems, including spills and explosions. New York sits atop the Marcellus Shale, which is believed to be one of the largest gas reservoirs in the world.
Fracking has been blamed for water contamination, among other problems.
Under the state's plan, a vast swath of the Catskill Mountains sorrounding New York City's drinking water reservoirs would be permanently off limits to fracking. Syracuse's reservoirs would also be protected.
Other precautionary measures include a ban on surface drilling on all state owned land, and a system for tracking the disposal of toxic flowback water that's a byproduct of fracking. The plan is substantially stricter than an earlier proposal by the Paterson administration, which environmentalists criticized, saying it contained too many loopholes.
Governor Cuomo is calling for an advisory panel of energy industry representatives and people from the environmental movement to draw up a plan for monitoring and enforcement.
The Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York, an industry group, didn't respond to the specifics in the plan, but said in a statement "after so many months of waiting and delay, we look forward to the chance to get people working and our economy growing."