New York Says No to Drilling in Allegany State ParkOct 3, 2011 | Parker Waichman LLP
With New York set to soon open the state to hydraulic fracturing, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation on Friday protecting Allegany State Park from natural gas and oil exploration and drilling. Allegeny State Park's 65,000 acres constitute the largest tract of intact, unfragmented forest land in the western half of New York State, and include mature second-growth as well as extensive old-growth forests.
New York is poised to adopt regulations that will open about 85 percent of its Marcellus Shale region to high-volume, horizontal fracturing. A fracking moratorium that existed in the state for more than two years officially expired on July 1, and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) recently issued proposed regulations for the industry. The DEC has scheduled public hearings on the proposed fracking regulations for November 16 in Dansville, November 17 in Binghamton, November 29 in Sheldrake, and November 30 in Manhattan.
On Friday, Governor Cuomo signed two bills into law that would effectively put Allegany State Park off limits to oil and natural gas drilling. According to The Buffalo News, the legislation holds that any oil and gas claim not actively used within the past 20 years shall be considered "extinguished" and the rights reverted to the state. The second law gives the state parks department broad new powers over any effort to explore or drill in the park. Both pieces of legislation had broad support, even among those who want to expand oil and natural gas drilling in New York.
According to The Buffalo News, Allegany State Park is unique in New York in that private ownership of subsurface oil and gas rights were still maintained nearly 100 years ago when the state acquired the land. Two years ago, Getzville-based by U.S. Energy Development Corp. announced plans to drill there, claiming it had subsurface mineral rights beneath 2,800 acres in the Red House section of the park. The adoption of the new legislation should put an end to those plans.