Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Robert Sweeney today announced the Assembly passed legislation establishing a statewide, three year moratorium to allow for further study of hydraulic fracturing, a horizontal drilling process used to extract natural gas and oil, and its potential to contaminate drinking water supplies and harm the environment.
"We have heard from thousands of residents across the state about many issues associated with hydrofracking, and prudent leadership demands that we take our time to address all these concerns," said Silver. "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."
"These energy resources found in our state have the potential to provide great economic benefit to New Yorkers, but we cannot let that blind us from thoroughly looking into and investigating hydrofracking's impact on our environment and human health," said Sweeney. "I call on the Senate to pass this bill so there will be time for a comprehensive review of all the available information well before this process gets the green light."
For 36 months, the bill (A.5424-B) would suspend hydraulic fracturing, also known as hydrofracking, to ensure the legislature has adequate time to review its impact on public health and the environment. The hydraulic fracturing process involves many toxic and hazardous air and water contaminants, including a number of known or suspected carcinogens. Studies in Colorado and Pennsylvania have raised many public health concerns for people living in communities near natural gas wells, including increased incidents of birth defects, cancer and endocrinological health disorders.
To help legislators secure the latest scientific information available on hydrofracking, the moratorium will accommodate several key hydraulic-fracturing studies that are expected to be completed in the next several years.
These much anticipated reviews will examine hydraulic drilling's long-term impact on human health and are being conducted by such government and academic institutions as the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Geisinger Health System, University of Pennsylvania Center for Excellence in Environmental Toxicology, Colorado State University, University of Colorado at Boulder, Duke University, the federal Agency for Toxic Substances Disease Registry and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
This measure requires DEC to suspend issuing new permits for hydraulic fracturing until 2017. Hydraulic fracturing involves injecting chemical additives and millions of gallons of highly pressurized water into rock formations to free up and extract natural gas and oil deposits.