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Legislature Recommends Statewide Ban on High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing

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Legislature Recommends Statewide Ban on High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing

Tuesday, December 20, 2011
After approving three resolutions related to the issue of gas drilling two weeks ago, the Tompkins County Legislature has now called for a statewide ban in high-volume hydraulic fracturing in New York State. The resolution was approved by a vote of 14-1 (Legislator Frank Proto voted no).

Using language consistent with that advocating a ban in Tompkins County and the Finger Lakes region two weeks ago, the Legislature finds "many continuing flaws" in the document--'its failure to assess industrialization of rural landscapes, greenhouse gas emissions from natural gas, and cumulative socioeconomic impacts--'as well as a recognition that horizontal drilling and high-volume hydrofracturing "pose significant risks to water resources." Therefore, the resolution states, "horizontal drilling and high-volume hydrofracturing should be banned in New York State."

The measure asserts that risks and known impacts outweigh any positive economic benefits that may accrue from the industry in New York State and that there are no adequate requirements that would sufficiently mitigate the serious, severe negative impacts on the environment, public health, and socioeconomic conditions.

Legislator Pam Mackesey, chair of the Legislature's Planning, Development, and Environmental Quality Committee said she is convinced that hydrofracking is "an untested, untried process that could create irreparable damage."

Supporting the statewide ban, Legislator Carol Chock noted that the negative impacts will not stop at the borders of Tompkins County. Legislator Will Burbank said he's "stunned" at the incompleteness of the regulatory documents economic analysis, saying "sheer prudence necessitates a ban." Legislator Jim Dennis called it "shocking" that the DEC may allow permitting in a few weeks, reportedly without funding to support inspection and regulation in next year's State budget. Legislator Mike Lane noted that the fact that Tompkins County is calling on the state to enact a ban is important, saying "this is about protection of Tompkins County, and the rest of the state, as well."

While he favors the Legislature's past actions, such as preserving municipal home rule related to gas drilling, expressing concern through comments to the DEC, and favoring a ban in the Finger Lakes, Legislator Proto said he is opposed to the call for a statewide ban, that the State should take responsibility for its own actions.

Thanking the Planning Department and other staff and colleagues for their work on the issue, Legislature Chair Martha Robertson said, "the public in New York State has educated the DEC on this issue. I'm proud to be a part of that effort."