Energy Companies Say Gas Drilling Can Help NYS Finances

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The energy industry has a proposal to help New York State with its fiscal crisis. It's offering to lease state lands for natural gas drilling.

Gov. David Paterson has proposed closing dozens of state parks and historic sites to save money. But the energy industry says they could stay open if the state would lease public lands for natural gas drilling. Brad Gill with the Independent Oil and Gas Association says drillers would pay top dollar for access to the untapped Marcellus shale formation in New York's Southern Tier and Catskill Mountains.

"This just seemed to be a natural fit," Gill said. "Developing the Marcellus shale certainly could help the state with this crisis."

Gill estimates New York could raise more than $200 million from upstate gas leases. The only trouble is regulators aren't issuing permits right now because of environmental concerns. Gill hopes the fiscal crisis will prompt Albany to speed up its environmental review.

An environmental group says the gas industry is motivated only by its own gains and is using the cause of keeping state parks open as window dressing.