A proposal by state regulators to allow hydraulic fracturing drilling for gas will likely fuel a new burst of lobbying on the polarizing issue.
The New York Department of Environmental Conservation said a draft report to be released Friday will recommend barring the process called fracking in areas that provide drinking water.
The DEC recommendations will ultimately land on the desk of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat who has tried to carefully navigate the issue. The dispute often splits rural communities in which fracking is alternately seen as an economic windfall or an environmental hazard. Public opinion on drilling also tends to fall along geographic lines, with much of the opposition centered around New York City and downstate, with the biggest supporters tending to be upstate.
The document is seen as a key starting point for months of debate over fracking in the state. New Jersey’s Legislature decided to ban the practice.
The Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank, has estimated that ending New York’s moratorium on fracking would mean a $11.4 billion boost in economic output, though that calculation did not assume the limitations in the new proposal.
New York City officials had sought to protect their expansive watershed, and were pleased by the proposal announced Thursday in Albany.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg called the proposal “the right decision’’ because it would ban fracking in major watersheds and create a system of regulations to “allow drilling in a rigorously protective and environmentally responsible way….These new recommendations appear to adopt the restrictions we sought.’’