Groups Applaud New York State Senate for Passing a "Timeout" on Fracking for Natural Gas

State Senate Votes 48 to 9 to Protect New York's Drinking Water

ALBANY, NY (08/04/2010)(readMedia)-- Environmental, good government, community and public health organizations applauded the State Senate for voting last night to protect New York's drinking water by passing legislation that will enact a one-year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. By passing the bill, S. 8129B, sponsored by Senator Antoine Thompson (D-Buffalo), the Senate showed New Yorkers that our legislators recognize the potential dangers of hydraulic fracturing. In states such as Pennsylvania, Colorado and Wyoming where the gas industry routinely uses hydraulic fracturing to drill for natural gas, drinking and groundwater sources have been contaminated. The bill passed 48 to 9.

The legislation will suspend the issuance of permits to hydraulically fracture wells in New York State until May 15, 2011. This "timeout" will give the State's Department of Environmental Conservation time to finish its review of hydraulic fracturing and give the next governor an opportunity to review the issue.

"By overwhelmingly passing a moratorium on fracking last night, the State Senate is sending a strong message to the Governor and incoming administration that New Yorkers choose their health, safe drinking water, property values and landscapes over unregulated natural gas drilling," said Kate Sinding, Deputy Director of the New York Urban Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council. "As we watch the consequences of under-regulated oil and gas development unfold nationwide-from the Gulf of Mexico to Dimock, Pennsylvania-we're taking a stand and saying 'New Yorkers deserve better.' New York can be the first state to protect residents' health and the environment before drills break ground, setting an example for the rest of the nation."

"We applaud the State Senate for passing S8129B. The moratorium will give our elected leaders and policy makers time to more fully study the difficult questions and try to properly balance the competing interests raised by the natural gas industry's aggressive push to use the hydro-fracturing technique in New York State," said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY. "The bill's bipartisan support sends an strong message to state regulators about the importance of being sure that the science of conservation and protection has kept pace with the technology of exploration, not just trusting to the conclusions of high-priced industry lobbyists. This is an appropriate oversight role for our Legislature."

"Last night our state senators put New Yorkers ahead of the oil and gas industry and that's the way it should be," said Katherine Nadeau, Water & Natural Resources Program Director, Environmental Advocates of New York. "All eyes are now on the Assembly and they need to follow the Senate's lead to protect New York's drinking water and the health of our families from the dangers of 'fracking' for natural gas."

"Delaying hydraulic fracturing projects until strong safety regulations are in place is what the people of New York want. The Senate's decision to act affirmatively on this is an excellent step toward ensuring a safe and clean energy future, and we encourage the Assembly to move forward in a similar vein to ensure the New York's people, water, land and wildlife are protected," said Emily Maxwell, Regional Representative of National Wildlife Federation.

"We congratulate the Senate on its bipartisan agreement to take a critical 'time out' on hydrofracking," said Roger Downs, Conservation Program Manager for Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter. "Pennsylvania's regulate-as-you-drill approach has applied short-term solutions to long-term problems, resulting in spills, contaminated water, and devastated communities. New York's environment cannot afford the same disastrous approach."

"The bipartisan vote on the hydro fracking moratorium was a stunning victory for sane, sound policy that will protect the public health, safety and environment. Thank you to all our partners who helped accomplish the impossible. Now onto the Assembly and Governor,"Julia Walsh and Susan Zimet, Co-Directors, Frack Action.

"This is one of those rare times that the people of New York spoke louder than lots of money," Wes Gillingham, Catskill Mountainkeeper.

The organizations encourage the State Assembly to take up identical legislation, A. 11443B, which is sponsored by Assemblyman Robert Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst), when that house returns to Albany in the weeks ahead.

The groups applauding the New York State Senate's action include Catskill Mountainkeeper, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Common Cause/NY, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Earthworks Oil & Gas Accountability Project, Environmental Advocates of New York, Frack Action, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Sierra Club – Atlantic Chapter.


For more information:

Erica Ringewald (518) 210-9903, Environmental Advocates of New York

Daniella Nordin (518) 462-5526 x239, Environmental Advocates of New York

Dereth Glance (518) 339-2853, Citizens Campaign for the Environment

Wes Gillingham (845) 901-1029, Catskill Mountainkeeper