NY Assembly Passes Moratorium on Gas Drilling

Riverkeeper Supporters Key to Bringing Bill to a Vote

Thanks to your support and the support of thousands of New Yorkers, the Assembly passed a bill that places a timeout on hydraulic fracturing (hydrofracking or fracking) for natural gas by suspending the issuance of permits to fracture wells in New York State until May 15, 2011.

Last night's overwhelming 93-43 vote will prevent New York from completing its hasty and ill-considered rush to embrace fracking, which has done so much damage in other states.

By passing the bill, A. 11443B, sponsored by Assembly Member Robert Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst), the Assembly recognized the potential dangers of fracking and the need to put water protection before gas industry profits.

While this is an important win for environmental organizations and advocates from here to Buffalo, it is especially significant for the thousands of you who mobilized and said: “not here, not now.” This is your victory!

In an interview with WAMC Public Radio last week, Governor David Paterson called what is going on with fracking in New York State a “very good example of public participation” and recognized that its opponents “have raised enough of an argument to thwart us going forward at this time.” Governor Paterson has until the end of this year to sign the bill into law.

This bill simply extends the de facto moratorium that was already in place pursuant to Governor Paterson’s order that DEC conduct a supplemental generic environmental impact statement (SGEIS) under New York's State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR). The draft SGEIS received over 16,000 comments that DEC is currently reviewing. Riverkeeper alone highlighted 240 specific deficiencies with the draft SGEIS and has uncovered over a hundred cases of water contamination, fish kills, gas explosions, etc., outside New York. This bill gives us more time to figure out if and where this type of drilling can be done in New York.

While we’ve won an important battle, we haven’t won the war. This timeout is not a ban on drilling in our watershed or other sensitive areas. We need your continued support so we can work toward ensuring that industry fixes the problems with this procedure before any piece of equipment is placed into the ground and that regulations and enforcement mechanisms are in place to keep toxins out of our water supplies.

Keep up the fight!
Riverkeeper and the Don't Frack Team