Friday, March 29, 2013

New York Assembly votes to extend fracking ban until 2015

Story originally appeared on the Washington Examiner.

The New York Assembly voted today to delay a decision on legalizing fracking in the state until 2015, extending a moratorium on the drilling practice that has been in place since 2008.

Lawmakers approved the moratorium over fears that fracking may be harmful to the environment, particularly drinking water. Fracking involves sending water mixed with sand and chemicals down a deep well shaft to bring trapped oil and gas to the surface.

“We will not sit idly by and endanger the health and safety of our communities by rushing necessary health and safety reviews,” Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said in a statement before the vote, according to Reuters.

The moratorium must still be passed by the state Senate where a similar bill was introduced yesterday, before it can be signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

A group of senators, called the Independent Democratic Conference is also calling for a two-year delay until several health and environment reviews are completed, the Associated Press reported.

New York  last month missed its deadline for releasing the environmental impact report on fracking that would give regulators guidelines for drilling rules. The Department of Evironmental Conservation said at the time it would hold its report until the state’s Department of Health released its own review on the public health impacts of fracking.