New York State in no rush to drill for gas

A New York Times headline yesterday: "After Early Gallop, Albany Slows to Crawl in Making Decision on Gas Drilling."

Reporter Mireya Navarro points to an accumulating pile of evidence that New York State's government is a good deal less enamored of hydraulic fracturing than it was a year or two ago. There is no money for gas-drilling regulation in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's 2013 budget. Department of Environmental Conservation officials are bogged down under tens of thousands of critical public comments on their draft regulations. A new state advisory commission on gas drilling has cancelled several meetings, and is currently on hiatus.

But the most telling bit of reporting is probably a quote from Southern Tier state senator Tom Libous, who has been an ardent supporter of gas drilling. From the New York Times's story:

Even some of the most outspoken advocates for hydrofracking are showing patience, including Tom Libous, the second-ranking Republican in the State Senate, who represents the natural-gas-rich Southern Tier, on the Pennsylvania border.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a given,” he said of the state’s permitting hydrofracking. “Economically, we need it desperately. But at the end of the day, if the scientists and geologists at the D.E.C. say ‘this is not a good thing to do,’ I’m not going to challenge it.”

A related story by the same reporter, on the Times's Green blog, quotes DEC chief Joe Martens telling reporters that drilling is not necessarily in the cards for 2012:

“There is months of worth of work ahead,” Mr. Martens said. “It’s not a fait accompli that we’ll have a regulatory framework that would allow drilling this year.”