A gas drilling site on the Marcellus Shale is seen in Hickory, Pennsylvania February 24, 2009.
A gas drilling site atop the Marcellus Shale formation in Hickory, Pa. REUTERS

New York remains on the fence on whether or not to allow high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing, but companies that use the controversial technique known as fracking are knocking on the state's door.

Oil, natural gas and industry service companies descended on Binghamton Wednesday, just outside the Pennsylvania border, for the state's first shale gas job fair, reported the Associated Press.

The job fair comes as New York's Department of Environmental Conservation is reviewing thousands of comments to proposed regulations and projected environmental impacts ahead of natural gas drilling in the state.

Until the regulations are finalized, no hydraulic fracturing will take place in New York. The state does allow natural gas drilling to take place, but has put in place a de facto moratorium on high-volume fracking.

That hasn't stopped natural gas and oil companies from announcing their interest.

In February, the state's Department of Environmental Conservation received 61 applications for drilling permits since 2008, and that number has grown since.

Four companies have filed for applications, among them a heavyweight in the natural gas business. Chesapeake Energy, the second-largest natural gas producer in the country, applied for 47 of the original 61 permits.

The natural gas drilling practice has been met with staunch opposition in New York, with public forums late last year almost overrun by anti-fracking groups and environmentalists.

Industry groups say the drilling practice, which involves the blasting of rock formations underground with thousands of gallons of water, chemicals and sand, can be conducted safely. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson previously expressed her belief that fracking, given the right regulatory framework, could be done responsibly.

Industry groups also contend New York would benefit economically from the increased industry and royalty payments injected into rural economies.

New York environmental groups came to the aid of Dimock, Pennsylvania, residents in their continuing fight against natural gas drilling there, and last month, the Associated Press reported dozens of grassroots groups joined to launch a coordinated campaign to ban natural gas drilling using high-volume hydraulic fracturing in New York state.

The launch of the campaign came as the state's legislature dropped a proposal to have the state conduct an independent health impact study before any fracking is allowed, the AP reported.

New York could start issuing permits by year's end.

Fracking in recent years has helped fuel an energy boom in the country by allowing oil and natural gas companies to tap resources previously thought inaccessible.

Pennsylvania and New York sit atop 84 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and several billion barrels of oil, reported the U.S. Geological Survey.

The drilling practice is said to have caused groundwater pollution in Texas, Wyoming and Pennsylvania. The EPA is investigating those claims, but so far hasn't found any definitive proof natural gas drilling contaminated water supplies.