Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Robert K. Sweeney announced the passage of legislation (A.11443-B) that would suspend the issuance of new permits for natural gas or oil drilling involving hydraulic fracturing, known as hydrofracking, until May 15, 2011.
"This moratorium will help ensure that the hydrofracking process will only be allowed in New York after a thorough, deliberate and unrushed analysis of the process is complete," said Silver (D-Manhattan). "By preventing the state from issuing new permits to oil and gas companies until further review, we have protected our water supply and served notice to the industry that the health and safety of New Yorkers is our top priority."
Hydraulic fracturing involves pumping water and chemicals under pressure to create fractures in rock containing natural gas or oil. The resulting fractures permit the natural gas or oil to be captured. Concerns have been raised about the potential environmental and health impacts of the chemicals contained in the hydraulic fracturing fluid. Currently, the Environmental Protection Agency is conducting a study to investigate the possible relationships between hydraulic fracturing and drinking water.
"Decisions regarding the safety of our water and air shouldn't be made in haste, but should be the result of careful study and deliberation," said Sweeney. "If the water has been polluted it will be too late. This legislation will remove any 'time pressure' and allow DEC to do its job correctly."