New York is becoming the center of the next battleground in an ongoing controversy over the use of hydraulic fracturing in natural gas reserve development.

Norse Energy applied to New York Department of Environmental Conservation for permission to use hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus and Utica horizontal shale wells in New York on July 14. If approved, the wells would add to the 14,000 wells already active within the state.

At a hearing of the Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources earlier this month, experts from the government Energy Information Administration (EIA) said that despite New York Times claims, natural gas is abundant, cheap and an energy game changer that may cause coal-fired plants to take a back seat.

Firms are applying ahead of a final decision on exactly which parts of the state will be used for hydraulic fracturing, hopeful that safety concerns under review by state and federal bodies will be balanced by the appeal of the cheap and comparatively clean fossil fuel.

“While drilling permits will not be issued until the SGEIS [Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement] becomes final, Norse believes that it is important to have applications ready for approval, once that process is completed,” said Norse CEO Mark Dice.

For more on the natural gas controversy in New York, read: Pataki Gets Presidential Over Energy, Fracking Policies.

And A Little Further South…

In Pennsylvania, an advisory panel led by Governor Tom Corbett’s also brought up safety concerns as it issued its final report on Friday recommending various training processes for natural gas pipeline safety.

The Marcellus Shale, subject of the Pennsylvania report, is also the one being tapped in New York.

The Pennsylvania Commission recommended doubling civil penalties for Oil and Gas Act violations, expansion of well operators’ liability for impaired water, limiting future leasing of forestland, and creating a system within the Commonwealth’s Department of Health to address health concerns.