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Ohio Utica Shale

New York state's latest energy plan is mum on fracking

By Bob Downing Published: January 13, 2014

From the Associated Press last week:

 New York's newly released energy plan calls for increased use of renewable energy and clean technology and anticipates reduced utility bills and a more flexible distribution grid, but takes no position on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in the fertile Marcellus Shale.

While the proposal of the State Energy Planning Board calls for expanding the use of natural gas, instead of oil, for heating and power generation to reduce emissions of climate-changing carbon dioxide, it also notes that state officials are reviewing health and environmental concerns regarding fracking.

The shale formation extends from southern New York to West Virginia and has made abundant, low-cost natural gas available to New York through pipelines from gas fields in Pennsylvania. But New York has had a moratorium on fracking since the state launched an environmental review in 2008. Fracking involves injecting a gas well with a mixture of water and chemicals at high pressure to crack surrounding rock and release trapped gas.

The board's long-term plan, which was supposed to be completed in September 2012, was released Tuesday for a 60-day public comment period. Six public hearings will be held around the state, and a final version is expected to be adopted in the spring.

Environmental groups have called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to ban fracking, citing potential hazardous spills and disruption to community life from heavy industrial activity. Hundreds of anti-fracking protesters rallied outside Cuomo's annual State-of-the-State address Wednesday in Albany, but the governor made no mention of gas drilling in his speech.

Over the past year, Cuomo has said repeatedly that he's waiting for his health commissioner to complete a review, with no deadline for a decision.

Karen Moreau, executive director of the state Petroleum Council, said Wednesday that the absence of any mention of shale gas production in the energy plan is consistent with the Cuomo administration's clamp-down on official comments on fracking.

"It's ironic, however, that the metrics suggested in New York's 2014 energy plan for improving energy affordability, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and providing a more resilient and flexible grid are all made possible by the abundant supply of natural gas produced by Marcellus Shale development in neighboring states," Moreau said in an email.

Conor Bambrick of Environmental Advocates praised the plan for stressing decreased reliance on fossil fuels and increased use of solar and wind energy.

"We're very pleased to see that one of the first commitments in the plan is sticking with the state goal of reducing carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050," Bambrick said.

The plan is intended to improve the reliability of energy systems in New York, reduce the overall cost of energy, minimize public health and environmental impacts and maximize energy efficiency to meet a projected growth in demand. It is to serve as guidance for the public and private sectors on energy-related matters.

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Utica and Marcellus shale web sites

Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management State agency Web site.

ODNR Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management. State drilling permits. List is updated weekly.

ODNR Division of Geological Survey.

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Ohio State University Extension.

Ohio Farm Bureau.

Ohio Oil and Gas Association, a Granville-based group that represents 1,500 Ohio energy-related companies.

Ohio Oil & Gas Energy Education Program.

Energy In Depth, a trade group.

Marcellus and Utica Shale Resource Center by Ohio law firm Bricker & Eckler.

Utica Shale, a compilation of Utica shale activities.

Landman Report Card, a site that looks at companies involved in gas and oil leases.FracFocus, a compilation of chemicals used in fracking individual wells as reported voluntarily by some drillers.

Chesapeake Energy Corp,the Oklahoma-based firm is the No. 1 driller in Ohio.

Rig Count Interactive Map by Baker Hughes, an energy services company.

Shale Sheet Fracking, a Youngstown Vindicator blog.

National Geographic's The Great Shale Rush.

The Ohio Environmental Council, a statewide eco-group based in Columbus.

Buckeye Forest Council.

Earthjustice, a national eco-group.

Stop Fracking Ohio.

People's Oil and Gas Collaborative-Ohio, a grass-roots group in Northeast Ohio.

Concerned Citizens of Medina County, a grass-roots group.

No Frack Ohio, a Columbus-based grass-roots group.

Fracking: Gas Drilling's Environmental Threat by ProPublica, an online journalism site.

Penn State Marcellus Center.

Pipeline, blog from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Marcellus shale drilling.

Allegheny Front, environmental public radio for Western Pennsylvania.