Updated 03/06/2013 06:53 PM
Assembly approves two year ban on hydrofracking
The New York State Assembly has moved forward on a controversial issue for the second day in a row. Capital Tonight’s Nick Reisman has more.
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ALBANY, N.Y. -- A two year ban on hydrofracking was approved in the State Assembly, just one of several measures in the legislature that's seeking to delay the controversial natural gas drilling process. The ban covers the Marcellus and Utica shale formations and would also require a SUNY school of public health to study the impacts of hydrofracking and...
“I think this all brings it together and says, let's study health, study environment and let's put this off until we have conclusive answers,” said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
The Assembly has passed fracking bans before. In 2010, the measure passed the Senate as well, but was vetoed by then Governor David Paterson. Last year, the Assembly passed a one year moratorium, but the GOP-led Senate didn't take up the proposal. Now with the Senate under a coalition of Democrats and Republican lawmakers, IDC Senator David Carlucci this week introduced his own hydrofracking ban with a focus on health studies.
Carlucci said, “We want to make sure, put it into legislation, that we wait until these vital health studies are completed before we move forward.”
For business groups, the latest ban from the Assembly is seen as being out of touch with the concerns for those want to benefit economically from hydrofracking.
“We've been in this process now for four years. I think additional attempts to delay it through a gimmick, which I frankly think the legislation is. It's really inappropriate and it's an insult to the landowners in the Southern Tier who have been waiting for four years,” said Heather Briccetti, President of the Business Council.
The Cuomo administration meanwhile has missed multiple deadlines to complete regulations should fracking be allowed. Over the weekend the AP reported that Governor Cuomo's former brother in law, environmental advocate Robert Kennedy Jr., has influenced him on the issue. Cuomo said this week the two have discussed hydrofracking, but disputed RFK had a serious role in shaping policy.
Cuomo said, “It's not accurate that we were about to go forward and there was a discussion with him that changed my mind, that's just not accurate.”
The Department of Health says its study of the human toll of fracking needs more time. DEC Commissioner Joe Martens says permits could be issued before regulations are adopted if the health study deems fracking safe.