Comments

Part I published in Environmental Law in New York, vol 23, no. 11, Nov. 2012, and part II published in vol 23, no. 12, Dec. 2012. Reprinted in NYSBA's New York Environmental Lawyer, vol. 32, number 2, Fall 2012.

Document Type

Article

Abstract

This article explores the question of whether natural gas can still be considered a clean fuel by probing the relationship of water law and hydraulic fracturing in New York State. The paper begins by explaining the geology of tight shales, the engineering techniques needed to extract gas from solid rock, and the density and location of drilling that would be allowed under New York State law. Relying on information provided by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, scientific studies, and press accounts of the unprecedented citizen advocacy on this matter, it goes on to show the sharp distinction between the icon of natural gas as a clean blue flame and the actual and projected impacts of unconventional gas drilling. It concludes that the common sense of citizens is far ahead of established public policy in this fast moving area, and suggests that elected officials be attentive to these well-informed advocates as they determine the energy sources of the future.