NYS Assembly Passes CO2 Drilling & Fracking Ban Bill; Advocates Applaud Legislators

Environmentalists cheer the passage of Assemblymember Anna Kelles’ bill and call on the Senate to swiftly follow suit

Albany, NY – Following a rally and lobby day last week in support of legislation (A8866/ S8357) to ban drilling and fracking for natural gas and oil using carbon dioxide (CO2), the NYS Assembly passed the bill today 97-50. The bill has tremendous momentum, and environmental groups called on the Senate to quickly bring the bill to the floor for a vote and pass it. 

The campaign for a ban has emerged and grown rapidly in response to news that the fossil fuel industry is pushing an experimental, dangerous new method of shale gas extraction. Since the fall of 2023, the gas industry (via a company called “Southern Tier CO2 to Clean Energy Solutions”) has been asking thousands of Southern Tier landowners to lease their land for gas extraction by injecting carbon dioxide into the Marcellus Shale formation. The Marcellus and Utica Shale formations underlie much of the state and the industry may target the Southern Tier first as a starting point for more areas in the state. Currently, the state’s law banning fracking prohibits the use of water to extract the gas. The industry aims to get around the state’s fracking ban by using CO2, but it poses many of the same threats to our water, health, and climate. 

Assemblymember Dr. Anna Kelles, the bill sponsor, said, “New York State wisely prohibited high-volume hydraulic fracturing in 2020, and I’m so proud to say once again the Assembly upheld science and fact to pass the legislation I had the honor to champion to ban the use of pressurized carbon dioxide for gas and oil extraction. No matter what substance is used to frack for gas and oil, it is still fracking. It will still have severe negative health and environmental consequences only exacerbated by the use of a highly corrosive substance that is known to cause pipeline ruptures and destabilization through acidification and demineralization of the very ground under our feet. This bill is closing a loophole in our state's fracking ban to protect our people, our environment, and our economy.”

Julia Walsh, Director of Frack Action, said, “Thanks to the New York Assembly for their tremendous leadership in passing the bill to ban carbon dioxide drilling and fracking, which is vital to protecting our drinking water, air, and climate. Assemblymember Kelles has been an incredible leader in bringing forth this bill and getting it through the Assembly. Now we call on the New York Senate to quickly bring the bill to the floor and pass it and then Governor Hochul to sign it."

Alex Beauchamp, Northeast Region Director at Food & Water Watch, said, “CO2 fracking is dangerous, dirty, and fundamentally counter to New York’s Climate Act. New York has been down this road before, and what we found holds true today — fracking threatens our communities, health and climate. It has no place in a state striving to lead the transition off fossil fuels. We applaud the Assembly for moving quickly to ban CO2 fracking, and call on the Senate to get this done.” 

Actor and director Mark Ruffalo, a long-time environmental advocate in New York, said, "I’m so proud to be a New Yorker today as the NYS Assembly passes an important bill to close a loophole in the fracking ban law to include a prohibition on using carbon dioxide. We must stop this new experimental form of gas extraction from polluting our state."

“We applaud the Assembly for its expedient passage of this vital legislation,” said Joseph Campbell, President of Seneca Lake Guardian. “Giving the fossil fuel industry another bite of the apple on an untested, potentially dangerous form of extraction would be a grave mistake, and we’re thankful to Assemblymember Kelles for championing this initiative.”

Biologist Sandra Steingraber, PhD, Concerned Health Professionals of New York, said, “As Assemblymember Kelles made clear in today’s debate, swapping in pressurized CO2 for water doesn’t make fracking any less dangerous, Indeed, liquified CO2 is a terrible poison that asphyxiates people and turns groundwater into acid. Our Assembly has affirmed that there is zero reason to run this bad chemistry experiment in our Southern Tier counties. On to the Senate.” 

“Thanks and appreciation go to the Assembly and especially to Assemblymember Anna Kelles for their wise decision to ban CO2 fracking,” said Doug Couchon, Co-Founder of People for a Healthy Environment. “This action, if supported by the Senate, will prevent the dangerous and unsafe industrialization of New York’s Southern Tier and beyond by a Texas based corporation using an unproven process.”

Valdi Weiderpass, retired engineer and volunteer Chair of Sierra Club Susquehanna Group, with members in six counties, including Broome and Tioga, said, “Thanks to Assembly member Dr. Anna Kelles for courageously introducing and championing support of this bill, to co-sponsors, and to all members of the Assembly who voted to ban CO2 fracking, more precisely to ban the use of carbon dioxide (CO2) to extract gas or oil in New York State.The ban will stop the appalling proposal to drill thousands of gas wells, build hundreds of miles of natural gas pipelines and CO2 pipelines, as well as build ten to twelve gas burning power plants, which would increase exposure of residents to risk of fires and explosions from ruptures of natural gas pipelines and to risk of suffocation, permanent lung/nerve/brain damage or death from CO2 pipeline ruptures, as well as cause fugitive methane emissions (leaks) to skyrocket, which would further wreck the Climate. It is now time for the Senate to quickly pass this legislation and for the Governor to sign it into law.”

“We are thrilled to see the CO2 Fracking Ban pass the Assembly today and are grateful for Assemblymember Kelles’ leadership in making it happen,” said Sophie Patka, Climate & Legislative Associate at Environmental Advocates NY. Let’s keep the momentum going and stop fracking of all kinds from threatening our health and environment once and for all.”

“The proposal to use supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2 pressurized to enter a fluid state at certain temperatures) to extract gas in New York threatens the safety of lands and waters previously protected from similar subsurface hazards by both regulatory and legislative bans,” said Kathy Nolan, a physician and research director for Catskill Mountainkeeper. “This new legislation protects drinking water resources and prevents a false reliance on untested technologies as we work diligently to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Assembly has opted for a far simpler, safer, and superior approach: pass this ban and keep it in the ground.”

Ravo Root, Community Organizer with Citizen Action of New York, Said, We thank Assemblymember Kelles for her tireless effort to get this bill across the line in the Assembly. This bill is common sense, showing that New York State rejects dirty and dangerous CO2 fracking.”

“Kudos to Assemblymember Kelles for leading this bill to passage in record time,” said Adam Flint, Director of Clean Energy Programs at the Network for a Sustainable Tomorrow. The Southern Tier won’t be a sacrifice zone for shady Texas gas companies to harvest misguided federal incentives. We look forward to seeing leader Stewart Cousins bringing this to the floor in the Senate this week and for the Governor’s signature this month.”

Irene Weiser, coordinator of Fossil Free Tompkins said “New York’s DEC was right to halt fracking over 10 years ago, and Assemblymember Anna Kelles and her colleagues were right to close this loophole in our fracking law today. The fast action on this bill underscores the State's commitment as an environmental leader.Fossil Free Tompkins calls on the Senate and Governor to act expeditiously to close this loophole and send a clear message to the polluting oil and gas industry that we are committed to a clean green future for all New Yorkers.”

Roger Downs, Conservation Director for the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter said:

“The Sierra Club applauds Assemblymember Anna Kelles and the NYS Assembly Majority for their leadership in passing a CO2 Fracking ban, understanding that this latest gas extraction loophole will most certainly drain limited DEC resources and divert us from our nation leading climate goals unless we close it.We call upon the Senate and Governor Hochul to follow suit and protect New Yorkers from this ill-conceived plan that was not anticipated with the original fracking ban but shares so many of the same disastrous environmental impacts.”