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Industry-Supported Fracking Damage Fund Proposed in New York

Aug 9, 2011 | Parker Waichman LLP

If New York State is going to allow high-volume, horizontal hydraulic fracturing, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli says it must come up with a way to ensure natural gas drillers pay for any environmental damage that results from fracking.  According to The New York Times, DiNapoli is proposing legislation today that, if enacted, would set up an industry-supported fund to do just that.

The fund would save private property owners the trouble of taking drillers to court should their property be fouled by fracking or other types of drilling.  Among other things, the proposed law would also give state regulators the power to order immediate remediation after a drilling accident, and take control of cleaning up contaminated sites.

According to the Times, DiNapoli's proposal was inspired by a fund New York established in the 1970s to pay for oil spill damages.

“Given the great concern that many have, if we do go down this road, to provide this level of protection, I think, makes a lot of sense,” DiNapoli told The New York Times.

DiNapoli's proposal comes just a little over a month since New York's moratorium on high-volume, horizontal fracking expired on July 1.  The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) recommended that fracking be allowed on private lands in much of the state.   If the DEC's recommendation is adopted by the state, approximately 85 percent of the Marcellus Shale in New York would be accessible to natural gas extraction via fracking.

Governor Andrew Cuomo is expected to allow fracking to commence in the state in the near future. 

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