propane-tank-230x300-9401347Days after New York formalized its ban on high-volume hydraulic fracturing, a Tioga County business is looking to use a newer method to harvest natural gas from the Utica and Marcellus Shale formations.

Tioga Energy Partners, a contractor working with a group of farming families in the county, is seeking permits from the Department of Environmental Conservation to use gelled propane and sand to fracture the shale and extract the gas.

Pioneered by a Canadian company, which drilled its first well in 2008, the technique has been used across the United States in recent years. This article explains the environmental advantages of the gelled propane method compared to fracking that uses a high volume of water.

As reported in the Ithaca Journal:

“What the state studied, and eventually decided to ban, was the use of high volumes of water for fracturing purposes,” [Tioga Energy Partners legal counsel Adam] Schultz said. “This process that we are proposing doesn’t use any water, the fracturing takes place using liquified petroleum gas.”

The groups are seeking to develop the well under a New York state Generic Environmental Impact Statement on the Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Regulatory Program from 1992.

If allowed to proceed, the technique would render moot concerns about water contamination presented by hydrofracking opponents, who maintained their objections even after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found no evidence of “widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources.”

The news is especially encouraging for the economically distressed Southern Tier because natural gas prices are expected to rise over the next 18 months.

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