NY regulators: Marcellus could generate 55K jobs

ALBANY, N.Y.  — Natural gas production in New York’s part of the Marcellus Shale could bring up to 24,795 full time drilling-related jobs and more than 29,000 jobs in other parts of the economy, according to an environmental and economic impact study released today by the Department of Environmental Conservation.

In announcing the study, DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said the agency will propose regulations for high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” of gas wells in early October. Environmental advocates have urged the agency to enact regulations rather than mere permitting guidelines to give the rules the force of law.

The study proposes guidelines to protect the environment, human health and communities from potential harm related to gas production using fracking, which injects wells with millions of gallons of chemically-treated water and sand a mile underground to release trapped gas.

Martens said the state’s priority is to protect drinking water and the environment while allowing natural gas development to proceed.

“This will enable New York’s economy to benefit from this resource and the job opportunities that development is expected to bring,” Martens said.

Permitting for new gas wells in the lucrative Marcellus Shale region, which extends from southern New York through parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia, has been on hold in New York since the environmental study was begun in 2008. Martens said no permits will be issued until the study is finalized, likely in 2012.

A public comment period on the environmental impact study began Wednesday and will conclude Dec. 12. A comment period on proposed regulations will begin in early October but an end date was not set. DEC said it will schedule four public hearings on the study and regulations in November.