Journalism in the Public Interest

NY Assembly Approves Hydraulic Fracturing Moratorium

The New York state legislature gave its final approval to a bill that would, if signed by the governor, place a hold on new fracking until May 2011.

The New York state legislature refused to consider most major agenda items in Monday’s session, but they still gave their final approval to a bill that places a six-month ban on hydraulic fracturing while state and federal agencies review the practice.

The measure, which was approved by the state senate in August, was adopted by the assembly in a 93-43 vote. To become law, it must be signed by Gov. David Patterson before the end of the year.

The bill prohibits the issuing of new permits for hydraulic fracturing—the controversial drilling practice also known as fracking—until May 2011. As ProPublica reported earlier this year, the broad language of the measure does not differentiate between the different ways that fracking can be used. Industry experts say it could lead to the suspension of nearly all oil and gas drilling in the state.

Fracking shoots fluids underground at high pressures to release gas from bedrock. The practice is increasingly being used by drillers to harvest gas from the Marcellus Shale, the rock formation found in New York and several other states.

Concerns about water contamination have made fracking particularly controversial in New York, where residents receive drinking water so pure that it receives little treatment.

Gov. Patterson has signaled in the past that he supports the moratorium, and Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo has indicated that he would not support new fracking in the state unless the practice is proven to be safe.

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Industry experts say it could lead to the suspension of nearly all oil and gas drilling in the state.

Just what the NY state economy, especially in more rural parts, needs. Gotta love liberals who constantly whine about a “republican war on science” use junk science to support a measure like this. Bravo!

Mike H, I see your still trolling here. I also notice that you suspend doing so on the week ends, which might indicate you only do so on your bosses dime. You must have no real life to always write as you do?

Kudos to the NY State legislature for putting people before industry profits.  FINALLY one state is taking a stand and protecting its taxpaying citizens instead of corporations.  Who cares about any short term economic effects if you can’t drink the water or breathe the air (Mike h.)??
I hope that Ohio legislators will be smart enough (and brave enough) to do the same.

Well, my state’s local watchdog authority on oil/gas found a very valuable scapgoat on my toxic water.  It was from the Ideal stock tank I took the sample from.  Apparently Applegate, manufacturer of Ideal livestock water troughs, is putting strontium in its stock tanks according to the Texas Railroad Commission.

“Junk science” well I can see how you feel that a few people’s employment should come before the safety of the public water supply in the rural communities, that coincidentally they contaminate.

Science, junk or otherwise, has little to do with it when the water coming out of your faucets is flammable. And that is happening right now in Wyoming. The State of Texas, where I live would never cross a gas company however local municipalities are concerned enough to vote in moratoriums on drilling. (Barnett Shale)

All of the people who have come forward to let us know what is going on from dirty water, water that when a match is put to it catches fire, people &  animals sick with all sorts of illnesses, from state to state across our nation, they ALL are making this up??? I have only one question?  When people who live in the area have bad water, they are then provided with tanks (usually holding 500 gallons) of water by the company that is doing the fracking, again in state after state after state?

Flamable faucets: A recent NY Times article demonstrates that this issue, natural gas in aquifer, is as old as indoor plumbing. While there have been a small number of documented cases of drilling activities leaking natural gas into aquifers some the of the examples produced by the charlatan Josh Fox have been proven to be naturally occurring and not related to drilling. Additionally, the only case where pre drilling water quality was compared to post drilling water quality and there was a well containment failure resulting in a release of gas into the water table, no drilling fluids were found to be present in the aquifer. That’s zero … nada … zip … zilch … nothing.

@ Norman: I didn’t know you cared so much, or obsessed, to track my every movement here on Propublica. That’s quite a fulfilling hobby you have there.

Apparently Norman is right about Mike H.

“Gas companies, exempt from federal laws protecting water supplies, may conceal the identities of their chemicals as trade secrets, making it difficult to determine the cause of contamination.”—PP

You see? Mike knows that the chemicals are not there because he apparently has access to the trade secrets, access even your EPA doesn’t have.

And the Process Men sing, “Asbestos, DDT, blah, blah, all safe! Safe I tell you. Prove me wrong!”

Well smack my ass and call me Sally Mr Dudley, If ProPuplica said it then it MUST be true!

It can’t be junk science if there isn’t any science to speak of. The moratorium is in response to inadequate scientific evidence for either side. I don’t know how you debate being safe over being sorry. This isn’t a partisan issue.

If intellectual property is as Madison suggested akin
to real property, then Eminent Domain should be a
viable tool. Surely no person of intelligence argues
gas is more of a necessity than water. It is in the
interest of the people (particularly in rural settings)
these chemicals are divulged to local governmental officials.  Those who freely draw water in reasonable amounts from a local aquifer should be protected from
some “accident” necessitating the purchase of water.
The offender should bear that cost for life.

Mike H. Actually, the government, scientists (some secretly taking cash from Monsanto—Prof Doll and DDT for instance) and industry all said asbestos, lead gas and paint, DDT, Atrazine, and on and on were safe. So you might want to ask them to tap your patootie. I’m not interested.

The process men are aghast that prudence might entail asking questions that are, at their essence, akin to, “are you sure that pumping massive amounts of unknown chemicals into the ground has no foreseeable impact?”

Many scientists, despite myriad of examples to the contrary, refuse to consider the evidence of their own fallibility as, in itself, a reason to exercise caution when propagating technologies and chemicals that are irretrievable. By this they raise science, paradoxically, to the evidential level of a faith-based religion; and lend legitimacy to anti-scientist tinfoil hat types.

No wonder science is under attack with a bunch of arrogant absolutists, ignorant of or lying to themselves about the history of science’s failures and foisting their religion and potentially toxic stew upon us.

This article is part of an ongoing investigation:

Fracking: Gas Drilling’s Environmental Threat

The promise of abundant natural gas is colliding with fears about water contamination.

The Story So Far

The country’s push to find clean domestic energy has zeroed in on natural gas, but cases of water contamination have raised serious questions about the primary drilling method being used. Vast deposits of natural gas, large enough to supply the country for decades, have brought a drilling boom stretching across 31 states. The drilling technique being used, called hydraulic fracturing, shoots water, sand and toxic chemicals into the ground to break up rock and release the gas.

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