Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Hydraulic Fracturing Moratorium Passes in Albany

The State Assembly voted 93 to 43 on Monday night to block new permits for the drilling practice, known as hydraulic fracturing, until May 15, 2011. The Senate approved the temporary moratorium in August.

The purpose would be to give the state more time to address safety and environmental worries, especially concerns that the drilling could contaminate groundwater supplies.  The State Department of Environmental Conservation is reviewing the potential impact of horizontal hydraulic fracturing upstate and final regulations governing drilling could be ready as early as May 2011.

Hydraulic fracturing is a type of natural gas drilling that involves shooting chemicals and water into rock formations to release natural gas. The moratorium is aimed particularly at heading off hydraulic fracturing that relies on horizontal drilling, which requires the use of chemicals and vast amounts of water. Natural gas companies have been buying leases upstate and applying for permits for years to tap the Marcellus Shale, site of one of the largest natural gas fields in North America.

Governor David A Paterson is considering whether to sign the legislation. The Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York, an industry group, urged Mr. Paterson to veto the bill. (NYT, 11/30/2010)

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