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New York Fracking Moratorium Considered

A moratorium on high-volume, horizontal, hydraulic fracturing was passed in the New York State Assembly and delivered to the Senate. The bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Robert Sweeney, passed the Assembly by a vote of 89 to 34. If passed in the Senate, the bill, A.5424-b, would ban the drilling practice for three years from the day it is signed, according to the Legislative Gazette.

The bill cites recent studies on the potential health and environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing conducted in Colorado and Pennsylvania that show increased rates of birth defects for families living near natural gas wells. The bill also notes increased levels of air and water pollutants, including carcinogenic contaminants, near natural gas wells.

The state is still waiting on final reports by the Department of Health and Department of Environmental Conservation before proceeding with a fracking policy in New York. Researchers currently studying the potential impacts of gas drilling include the Geisinger Health System, the University of Pennsylvania Center for Excellence in Environmental Toxicology, Duke University, the Federal Agency for Toxic Substances Disease Registry and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Results from these studies will likely take at least three years.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said, “We do not need to rush into this. The natural gas deposits within the Marcellus Shale are not going to go anywhere. Before hydrofracking can be authorized, we need the best scientific information available to help us make informed decisions that will not compromise the safety of our drinking water, public health and the environment.”