The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has issued a revised 900-page draft banning “fracking” in the New York City and Syracuse watersheds, but recommending that it be allowed on private property with certain restrictions. The draft recommendations would open up to 85 percent of the Marcellus Shale to natural gas exploration. The draft proposes to prohibit fracking within primary aquifers and within 500 feet of their boundaries. Fracking would be prohibited on state-owned land, including parks, forest areas and wildlife management areas. Fracking would be allowed on privately held lands under “rigorous and effective controls” of which DEC will issue in a future draft. Fracking is currently under a one-year moratorium until new rules and public comment can be made on the current draft proposal from DEC. DEC’s present recommendations depart from those contained in an earlier 2009 Draft SGEIS, which would have permitted drilling in the New York City and Syracuse drinking water watersheds, and which would have allowed surface drilling for high-volume fracking in primary aquifers and on public forests, wildlife areas, and parkland. In December 2010, then-Governor David Paterson ordered DEC to revise the initial Draft, taking into consideration the voluminous public comments that had been submitted.
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