The first real test of the state's newly-enacted fracking ban is on the way. And it's not, as many supporters and opponents of the ban expected, a lawsuit directly challenging the prohibition.
Yesterday, a group of farm owners and Tioga Energy LLC announced plans to file an application with the state to extract natural from beneath 53 acres in the Town of Barton in Tioga County. They plan to frack the gas out of the ground, but not using the traditional mix of water, chemicals, and sand. Instead, the plan is to use liquified propane to force the gas out of the shale, according to the Elmira Star Gazette
"We are outside of the state's ban," Tioga Energy Partners' legal counsel Adam Schultz told the Star Gazette. "The state banned high-volume hydraulic fracturing, but that's not what we're doing."
The state's environmental review of high-volume hydraulic fracturing focused on methods that use massive amounts of water, and the ban is based on that analysis. The group's argument that propane-based fracking falls outside of the ban will surely be disputed, and the whole matter could end up in court.