After more than four years of environmental review marked by escalating battles between industry and anti-drilling protesters, New York regulators appear likely to complete strict new regulations for shale gas development by the end of February.
But it remains to be seen if drilling actually begins. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his Department of Environmental Conservation have refused to say whether a 4 1/2 -year moratorium on high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, will be lifted when regulations are completed. Industry insiders say development will happen slowly if the ban is lifted. And opponents have vowed to escalate protests.
With a depressed natural gas market and threats of lawsuits and civil disobedience from opposition groups, a shale gas boom like that seen in Pennsylvania is unlikely to hit New York if Cuomo gives drillers the green light in 2013.
"My sense of it is, there will be some activity, but I don't see it as being a big ...