When three drilling companies tried to plot out where to locate drilling pads on their leased lands in New York, they found in many cases the state's limits made the task impossible, West said in an interview with the AP.
The Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York argues in comments submitted to DEC that some of the setbacks should be reduced or removed because they're arbitrary rather than based on scientific data or case studies. In other cases, it argues that DEC should grant waivers or exceptions when operators demonstrate that adequate protections exist. That's standard practice in Pennsylvania, West said.
Environmental groups argue that the setbacks proposed by DEC may not be sufficient to protect water supplies.
"For industry to be now seeking loopholes and workarounds for the state's proposed setbacks suggests that they still don't understand the strong level of public concern," said Eric Goldstein of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
If the state's setbacks prevent a gas company from locating a drilling pad within a single, 640-acre drilling unit, that would deprive those landowners of $30 million in royalties over the life of the well, West reasoned, based on what some Pennsylvania wells are producing.
Moreau said fragmenting the landscape with restrictions will increase the environmental footprint of gas development because companies may be forced to put in more well pads and associated pipelines and access roads to get at the gas, rather than locating one well in a geologically ideal area.
"We want a high environmental bar in New York," West said. "But when you have so many restrictions that it makes it impossible to drill, it's gone too far."
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.