New York Senate Passes Temporary Ban on Hydraulic Fracturing
by Abrahm Lustgarten and Nicholas Kusnetz

In a predawn vote Wednesday, New York State’s senate passed a bill that reaches beyond the debate over the environmental safety of drilling for gas in the Marcellus Shale and would effectively ban almost all gas and oil drilling in the state until next spring. The bill circumvents an environmental review by the state’s regulatory agency that could be finished this year.

The bill prohibits the underground process of hydraulic fracturing [1], which breaks up buried rock and releases gas trapped inside.

Its author, State Senator Antoine Thompson, told ProPublica the moratorium is aimed at pausing the kind of high-volume hydraulic fracturing used in horizontally-drilled wells in the Marcellus Shale until legislators can reach an informed decision about its risks. But the language in the final bill as it is posted on the state’s website [2] does not differentiate between the different ways hydraulic fracturing can be used. It appears to be a blanket prohibition that would also stop hydraulic fracturing in New York’s many vertical oil and gas wells and would apply to drilling in geologic formations outside the Marcellus.

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