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Legislature Urges State Hydrofracking Ban

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Legislature Urges State Hydrofracking Ban

Tuesday, May 18, 2010
The Legislature is calling upon New York State to ban all hydraulic fracturing operations to extract natural gas from shale until independent scientific assessments are competed to determine the risk of hydraulic fracturing, the greenhouse gas emissions it would produce, and its economic and social costs. The action supports legislation proposed in the State Senate and Assembly.

After listening to more than an hour of impassioned public comment from more than 20 residents who urged support of the ban and another half-hour of discussion, mostly focused on wording changes, the measure was approved by a 13-1 vote, with Legislator Peter Stein voting no. (Legislator Carol Chock was excused.)

Citing the many concerns that have been expressed about the potential dangers of the gas drilling technique, the local infrastructure damage it could produce, and the Legislature's three prior resolutions of concern about gas drilling, the action supports proposed state legislation that would place a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing until 120 days after the federal Environmental Protection Agency issues findings from a two-year study of potential adverse effects of hydraulic fracturing on water quality and public health. The measure also calls upon the state Department of Environmental Conservation to extend statewide the same standards the agency plans to apply to the New York City and Syracuse watersheds, requiring individual permits for each individual well.

Legislator Stein said he was "sadly opposed"--'while he supports the concept of the ban and saying in plain, simple language that drilling by the hydraulic fracturing technique should be delayed until water quality and safety impacts can be evaluated, he felt "extremely uncomfortable in making highly technical statements" through the detailed resolution that he did not completely understand and could not verify.

Copies of the resolution will be sent to Governor Paterson, the county's congressional, Assembly, and Senate delegations, Assembly and Senate leadership, State Health Commissioner Richard Daines, Environmental Conservation Commissioner Peter Grannis, Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Patrick Hooker, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, a number of members of State Senate and Assembly, and the New York State Association of Counties.

Planning, Development, and Environmental Quality Committee chair Pam Mackesey thanked Legislature Chair Martha Robertson for her work in drafting the resolution and for her leadership on the gas drilling issue.