May 16, 2011

Assembly Moratorium on Natural Gas Well Drilling Permits That Utilize Hydrofracking Reported Out of Committee

Drilling Suspension Would Give Legislators Additional Time to Study Risks

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Robert K. Sweeney today announced that legislation to suspend the issuance of new permits for hydrofracking in New York State until June 1, 2012, was reported out of the Environmental Conservation Committee today.

"For the sake of our environment's safety and the integrity of our drinking water, I think it is appropriate and responsible for the state to take additional time to thoroughly study all the data that is available and forthcoming about hydrofracking before approving any additional permits," said Silver (D-Manhattan).

Under the bill (A.7400, Sweeney), no permits would be issued for new wells that use the hydrofracking process to extract natural gas or oil until June 2012. The moratorium called for in the measure will provide the legislature with additional time to review the Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement, which the Department of Environmental Conservation is currently preparing.

Health and environmental concerns have been raised by communities across the nation where hydrofracking has been used to retrieve natural gas and oil. Reports of water contamination, habitat destruction and chemical spills have occurred in states that have permitted hyrdrofracking, including Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado and others. The Environmental Protection Agency, at the direction of Congress, is studying hydrofracking and is expected to release its report at the end of 2012.

"This legislation ensures that we do not embrace this drilling technology without examining all the risks. During our lifetime we have seen many environmental disasters that could have been avoided had all the facts been known before approvals were given. It's important that we in New York State get our policy on hydrofracking right, the first time," said Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst).

"There are too many unknowns about what kind of impact hydrofracking has on the environment. To be anything but cautious on this matter would be reckless and a threat to our environment and the health of New Yorkers," said Silver, who noted he expects the Assembly to approve the bill during this legislative session.