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Energy

Group applies to frack with propane in New York

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A group of farm families in Tioga County wants a state permit for a natural gas well that uses gelled propane. It’s still fracking, but it would skirt the state’s ban.

The debate around fracking in New York State has been mostly about hydraulic fracturing: using large quantities of water mixed with chemicals to break up underground shale formations and release natural gas.

But propane can also be a liquid and other states have used it to frack. That’s convenient in New York, where the Department of Environmental Conservation recently banned fracking with large amounts of water.

But there are technical drawbacks, according to hydrogeologist Dave Yoxtheimer of Penn State’s Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research. He said that liquid propane "is still quite a bit more compressible that water." In order to get the fractures to open up with propane, "you have to apply even more pressure on the propane to get it to have the needed pressure down in the shale."

The Snyder Farm Group and energy company Tioga Energy Partners LLC submitted their permit application to the DEC on Wednesday.

Tom Mailey, spokesman for the DEC, gave this statement:

We have received the application. As required by law, we will review the permit. DEC will follow the mandates in the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA), which could include requiring an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

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