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No shale in Buffalo except a shale conference

Ari Moore
via Flickr
Many businesses interested in hydrofracking in New York will attend a conference devoted to the topic Friday in Buffalo.

Buffalo is home to a conference focusing on Marcellus Shale drilling Friday. Local companies see drilling as a future business opportunity despite the current ban on new drilling permits, a proposed moratorium that recently passed the Assembly, and the fact that most shale drilling would occur downstate.

The New York State Society of Professional Engineers is staging the meeting, which will bring together local firms interested in business opportunities if fracking eventually becomes legal. The current hurdles to drilling hasn’t stopped Buffalo-area businesses from trying to get their foot in the door while the state figures out how to regulate the practice. There have been a handful of shale conferences in Buffalo in recent months.

Ed Murphy is on the NYSSPE board of directors. He says the conference is informational and will feature a swath of opinions on the controversial topic.

“We fully recognize that there are a large number of stakeholders in it and a uniquely broad spectrum of opinion as to the benefits and drawbacks of shale gas development in New York,” Murphy said. “I certainly could see a contribution of the engineering community to an effort of shale gas drilling in New York if and when that were to happen. ”

Governor David Paterson has said he will consider signing the moratorium that passed last week. He has hinted that he would allow the incoming Cuomo Administration make the issues its own. The state's Department of Environmental Conservation has also not yet finished its study into the practice, which is legal in other states but has raised significant environmental concerns, especially with regards to the safety of drinking water.

The conference will be informational and will not advocate for an particular set of views, Murphy said.

“That’s just an issue of the currency of the state of affairs of shale gas development in New York.  It [will be] a statement of facts. It is what it is. And that information will be presented,” Murphy said.

Supporters say drilling will bring thousands of jobs and tax revenue to the state.

The conference runs from 7:30 AM to 5 in the evening at the Adam’s Mark Hotel in downtown Buffalo and requires registration.