Fracking plans stifle upstate home sales

The Catskills region will probably need more than a new slogan to boost its struggling real estate market. It could need the state to ban hydraulic fracturing.

According to the New York Times, the region’s home sales market has been stymied by fears over the proposal to drill for gas on Marcellus Shale, a natural-gas field that runs through about 25 counties in New York. Whereas home sales were up 6.7 percent statewide in the second quarter, according to the New York State Association of Realtors, they were down 4 percent in Sullivan County, which sits on the Marcellus Shale.

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Prospective buyers, sellers and real estate agents told the Times that transactions have stalled because of uncertainty over the fracking, which involves chemical injections that force out natural gas deposits. Gas companies have paid property owners to lease land all over the region but that comes at the expense of the serenity second-home buyers seek in the region. They fear their peaceful vacation home will eventually be situated on an industrial site.

State regulators have been studying the environmental effect of the process for four years and Governor Andrew Cuomo is taking his time making a decision, the Times said. [NYT] — Adam Fusfeld