Assembly Passes Moratorium on Hydrofracking
December 1, 2010
On Monday, November 29, 2010, the Assembly passed legislation that would suspend the issuance of new permits for natural gas or oil drilling involving hydraulic fracturing, known as hydrofracking, until May 15, 2011. 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. By delaying DEC's ability to issue permits until May 15, 2011, this bill will provide the Legislature additional time to assess the true environmental impacts of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. This bill will also allow the Legislature to properly deliberate the numerous concerns that have come forward during the public comment period on the Department of Environmental Conservation's draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (draft SGEIS). The May 15, 2011 date also ensures that the Legislature will have ample opportunity to act in the 2011 Legislative Session. Given the complexities of the environmental and policy issues under consideration, the need for a one year suspension on the permitting process for development of natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale formation cannot be overstated. This will allow for a thorough, deliberate and unrushed analysis of all factors involved. "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 Hevesi (D-Queens). "This legislation will remove any 'time pressure' and allow DEC to do its job correctly."