The Paterson administration has finally given a green light to proposed drilling in the Marcellus Shale, considered by many to be the nation's largest natural-gas reservoir. Covering several states and extending more than 600 miles, the basin may contain as much as six decades' worth of US natural-gas needs.Pennsylvania officials claim that drilling on their portion of the formation has created 100,000 jobs. If the New York portion could produce half that many jobs, it would be a boon to the local economy upstate, provide additional revenue to the state, and enhance and improve the energy needs for the region, which is heavily dependent on natural gas for power production and home heating particularly downstate.
Drilling is already under way in Pennsylvania and other Marcellus states. Well over a year ago, Gov. Paterson put energy production on hold here at home so regulators could study the issue. This delay satisfied the demands of anti-drilling greens, but it denied the Empire State's economy a much-needed boost.
So let's give Paterson credit, then, that his team's long-anticipated draft environmental review comes down on the side of natural-gas drilling in New York.
More than that, Paterson has rebuffed extreme environmentalists' demands for a ban on drilling in the New York City watershed. That's a real accomplishment, since one of the main groups calling for such a ban, Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s Riverkeeper, boasted in August about helping shape the state study.
The drilling would have to conform to state environmental laws to minimize impact on watersheds and take other steps to minimize the environmental impact. I think this is the right step and I applaud the Governor on this action given that it enhances the state's energy policy and provides the groundwork for sourcing more energy from natural gas and may lead to a further reduction in the state's need for coal fired plants, which lead to far more emissions.