Volume 20, Number 49 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | December 1 - 7, 2010

Assembly passes fracking moratorium

BY John Bayles

At the eleventh hour of Monday’s special legislative session called by Governor Paterson, the New York State Assembly passed a moratorium on a controversial drilling technique used to acquire natural gas.

Horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has come under fire from environmental groups across the country because of possible dangers the technique poses to ground water. The New York State Senate passed similar legislation in August and the bill now awaits the Governor’s signature.

On Tuesday, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said, “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.”

Environmental Con-servation Committee Chair Robert K. Sweeney echoed Silver and said, “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.”

If signed into law, the moratorium would remain in effect through May 15, 2011.

All parties are not happy about the moratorium. Many gas companies have already started to purchase leases in order to drill into the Marcellus Shale, located in upstate New York, and one of North America’s largest natural gas resources.

The Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York released a statement on Tuesday that said “politics” had “trumped facts” in the Assembly debate.

The I.O.G.A. of N.Y. claims the language of the bill could adversely affect jobs not connected to the Marcellus Shale debate and that are currently underway throughout the state.

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