Thiele: Assembly Passes Moratorium on Hydrofracking in New York State

Legislation delays issuance of certain natural gas drilling permits until May 2015, allowing for further research of potential risks

In order to allow for additional time to examine further the potential public health risks and environmental safety concerns associated with the new natural gas drilling techniques proposed for the state, including high-volume hydraulic fracturing, New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. (I, D, WF-Sag Harbor) announced the Assembly passed legislation that would delay the Department of Environmental Conservation’s issuance of certain new natural gas drilling permits in New York until May 15, 2015 (A.5424-A). The measure would also require a comprehensive health impact assessment be completed by a SUNY school of public health and made public no later than April 15, 2015.

“The high-volume hydrofracking being proposed for the State is a potentially harmful process that causes a great deal of concern to many New Yorkers,” Assemblyman Thiele said. “The Assembly’s legislation would allow additional time to assess the true public health and environmental impact of the new drilling techniques. Rushing this decision would be reckless and a disservice to hardworking New Yorkers. We need to ensure a thorough and deliberate analysis of this complicated and controversial issue.”

The measure would place a moratorium on the issuance of permits for natural gas extraction in low permeability natural gas pools, like the Marcellus and Utica shale formations. This bill would help ensure the Legislature has adequate time to review the Department of Environmental Conservation’s Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) once it is finalized.

Hydraulic fracturing – commonly referred to as hydrofracking – is a process used to extract natural gas by injecting a chemical cocktail and highly pressurized water into underground rock formations. There is concern that hydrofracking could contaminate clean drinking water supplies and cause damage to the surrounding environment.

“Until we have all the facts, it’s not worth putting our families and the environment in danger,” Thiele said. “There is simply too much at risk.”