20110630 naturalgas
A sign indicates the location of the Millenium Pipeline buried under a cut in the forest in Hancock, New York. - 

Host: New York state today is set to move forward on a plan to allow fracking. That's the controversial way of getting natural gas by shooting chemicals underground. Environmentalists say fracking will contaminate the region's groundwater.

From the sustainability desk, Marketplace's Scott Tong reports that the New York plan could be construed a couple of different ways.

Scott Tong: Initial reports suggested yes, industry victory. Yes to fracking in New York. Then, the state issued a press release.

Kevin Book: What it is is a different flavor of no.

Analyst Kevin Book is with Clear View Energy.

Book: They've ruled out any private lands that feed into the New York watershed. And they've also excluded all of the state lands for fracking. They've cut out a lot of the very desirable real estate.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is -- in its cliche form -- a game changer. Oil and gas companies say it unlocks a domestic energy source for decades. Critics aren't sure it's safe, and governments from Maryland to Quebec to France are all debating it. Consultant Ray Perryman says the New York lesson for companies is compromise and engage the public.

Ray Perryman: And I think the ones successful in doing that, that take the lead on doing that, are going to get more cooperation, they're going to find a more friendly regulatory environment.

Up next in New York, two months for public comment. Any drilling will wait until then.

I'm Scott Tong for Marketplace.

Follow Scott Tong at @tongscott