The New York State Assembly voted last week to extend New York's ban on fracking another two years.
The bill was passed "to give the Legislature sufficient time to more fully review the available data" and to assess a pending Department of Environmental Conservation health study, according to assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
"Wherever you stand on the issue, two facts are indisputable," Silver said in a statement. "One, the health and well-being of the people must always take precedence over industry profits, and two, the natural gas locked within the Marcellus Shale and the Utica Shale isn't going anywhere. We're not going to lose it."
The drilling industry has pressed New York to open land to drilling, while activists caution that fracking could put New York City's water supplies at risk.
If New York does open up, chances are that companies involved in drilling would mostly work from existing offices in Pennsylvania's Northern Tier, rather than open additional ones, said Mark Lauriello, president of Lancaster County-based engineering firm Rettew Associates Inc., which does extensive work related to shale gas.
Companies already typically serve multiple counties out of a single office, and logistically it doesn't much matter if those counties are in Pennsylvania or New York, he said.
At present, however, New York "is not all that attractive an area" for drillers, Lauriello said.
That's because New York, like the Northern Tier, has primarily dry gas, which is mostly pure methane used for heating. Low prices have driven drillers to concentrate instead on wet gas areas in Ohio, Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Wet gas contains additional components such as ethane and butane that can be sold at a premium.
The New York State Assembly's moratorium still needs to pass the state Senate and be signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. A Senate leader said Monday the moratorium is unnecessary and he plans to block it.