New York Senate Bill S8129B Passes – Moratorium on Marcellus Gas Drilling Comes to New York

Sen. Antoine Thompson Tuesday, August 4, was a sad day for New Yorkers who, after more than two years of waiting, found out they will have to wait longer to begin drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale. On Tuesday, the New York Senate voted 48-9 to prevent hydraulic fracturing (drilling) of gas wells in the Marcellus and Utica Shale formations in New York State. The moratorium, sponsored by State Senator Antoine Thompson (Democrat-Buffalo), prevents gas drilling for another nine months, until May 15, 2011.

The bill must now be passed by the heavily Democrat and leftist New York Assembly, which is all but assured. And then the bill must be signed into law by Governor Patterson, a shell of a man who is nothing more than a marionette whose strings are pulled by Democrat special interests. In other words folks, it’s a done deal.

We’ll deal with what it means in future posts. The purpose of this post is to give you the full language of the bill, which is all but impossible to find via any news story about the vote. You should read it for yourself.

Here’s the text of the bill that was passed:

S8129B Text
I N SENATE June 10, 2010
Introduced by Sens. THOMPSON, OPPENHEIMER, PERKINS — read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Environmental Conservation — reported favorably from said committee and committed to the Committee on Rules — committee discharged, bill amended, ordered reprinted as amended and recommitted to said committee — committee discharged, bill amended, ordered reprinted as amended and recommitted to said committee AN ACT to suspend hydraulic fracturing; and providing for the repeal of such provisions upon the expiration thereof THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEMBLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

Section 1. There is hereby established a suspension of the issuance of new permits for the drilling of a well which utilizes the practice of hydraulic fracturing for the purpose of stimulating natural gas or oil in low permeability natural gas reservoirs, such as the Marcellus and Utica shale formations. The purpose of such suspension shall be to afford the state and its residents the opportunity to continue the review and analysis of the effects of hydraulic fracturing on water and air quality, environmental safety and public health. For the purposes of this section, “hydraulic fracturing” shall mean the fracturing of rock by fluid for the purpose of stimulating natural gas or oil for any purpose. This section shall not apply to permits issued prior to the effective date of this act which utilize hydraulic fracturing that are subject to renewal.

S 2. This act shall take effect immediately, and shall expire and be deemed repealed on May 15, 2011.

And here’s the official “Memo” which further explains it:

S8129B Memo
TITLE OF BILL: An act to suspend hydraulic fracturing; and providing for the repeal of such provisions upon the expiration thereof
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: This bill seeks to place a suspension of any permitting for hydraulic fracturing low permeability natural gas reservoirs, such as the Marcellus and Utica shale formations to ensure adequate review and analysis of the effects of this type of drilling on water quality, air, environmental, safety and public health.

SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS: This bill suspends the issuance of new permits for the drilling of a well which utilizes the practice of hydraulic fracturing for the purpose of stimulating natural gas or oil in the Marcellus Shale formation.


The potential for development of natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale formation within New York State has created robust debate involving the interplay between job creation and protection of the environment. Stakeholders both in support and opposition to these developments are aggressively advancing positions that are expansive and highly controversial. By delaying DEC’s ability to issue permits until May 15,2011, this bill will provide the Legislature additional time to assess the true environmental impacts of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. This bill will also allow the Legislature to properly deliberate the numerous concerns that have come forward during the public comment period on the Department of Environmental Conservation’s draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (draft SGEIS). The May 15,2011 date also ensures that the Legislature will have ample opportunity to act in the 2011 Legislative Session. Gas drilling carries with it risks of accidents, including blow-outs and hazards related to gas seeping from wells. There are also potential effects on the communities in which shale gas production is located, including traffic, noise, and an influx of transient workers. Air quality, road creation, and habitat destruction all need to be taken into account, but by far the biggest concern is water safety. The large withdrawals of water required for hydrofracking could disrupt surface and ground water ecosystems, and improper management of drilling and hydrofracking chemicals, drilling waste, and wastewater could pollute surface water and/or groundwater. Given the complexities of the environmental and policy issues under consideration, the need for a one year suspension on the permitting process for development of natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale formation cannot be overstated. This will allow for a thorough, deliberate and unrushed analysis of all factors involved.



I find the last line in the Memo, “FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None.” to be interesting. Obviously it means New York State does not have to expend taxpayer money by passing this bill. However, the true fiscal implications are enormous. Every day and week that passes without drilling in New York means energy companies and the many associated companies that support them set up permanent offices and operations across the border in Pennsylvania. And you know what? Those jobs, thousands up thousands of them, along with the tax revenue they would bring, are NEVER coming to New York. Not ever. Once those companies get established, that’s it. They won’t bother to relocate when and if New York starts to drill. It will be easier to stay where they are and service any ongoing operations in New York from across the border. What a short-sighted shame. All because politicians are pandering to a narrow special interest.

Here’s a link to the full text of S8129B:

  • What-The-Frack!

    Hey, let’s not start doing like the anti’s and completely overstating the consequences.

    For one thing, Gov. Paterson could veto this. He’s not running for office, and so he is uniquely free to do what’s right, rather than what calms the freaked-out masses.

    In this case, the right thing could easily be seen as a veto, coupled with assurances that the DEC (his agency) is going to wind up engaging in further delay, anyway, in order to finish its job.

    (Like nobody saw that coming!)

  • Elizabeth


    I couldn’t be happier that my representatives want “to ensure adequate review and analysis of the effects of this type of drilling on water quality, air, environmental, safety and public health.” This is a great improvement of their performance over the usual practice of letting energy companies do whatever the heck they want to my planet. Yes…it is MY planet too. It doesn’t just belong to those who wish to exploit it until it can no longer sustain life.

    The fiscal implications of NOT enacting this bill are enormous. It boggles my mind that all of the justifications clearly stated do not affect you. It takes tiny thought processes to dismiss such a laundry list of hazards and only see dollar signs. It takes compassion, deep consideration, foresight, and an ability to learn from history to see the importance of enacting this bill.

    By the way, the word is DEMOCRATIC. Proper grammar and historic review show that that is the proper usage of the word. To be DEMOCRATIC is:
    To be engaged in “government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.” And further…”popular with or for the benefit of all”

    Nice try with the Neuro Linguistic Programming.




  • metroart

    “All because politicians are pandering to a narrow special interest.”

    A recent state-wide NY poll shows a better than 2-to-1 majority believe the risks of gas drilling outweigh the benefits. And that was before BP.

    Wake up. You’re the narrow special interest.

  • Elizabeth

    By the way…Norse Energy has said that this bill doesn’t inhibit their plans in New York in any way.

    If there is money to be had in New York, energy companies will be here. They aren’t going anywhere. Saying that they are never going to come back is a scare tactic that really has no merit, since they likely aren’t even going to leave. As long as there is gas in the ground, they’re going to find a way to get it and make money off of it, fracking or no fracking.

  • Angelo

    This is outrageous!

    All because a few racist, tree-hugging, liberal, eco-terrorists want to have clean water to drink.

    If they were REAL patriots, they would just shut-up, pay their taxes and let the clean water be damned.

    Pennsylvania has shown REAL leadership once again. Former Gov. Tom (Homeland Security) Ridge is going to accelerate and advance their frack drilling lead even further.
    Tom Ridge knows how to get those pesky environmental laws re-written!

    It’s over for New York. I hope they enjoy their “clean water” while the state descends into a deep, dark depression.

  • Jim

    To all of my faithful readers on the other side of the isle on this issue, thanks for your comments. But I find them disingenuous. Nothing will change between now and a year from now with the very restrictive rules for drilling already created by the DEC. I believe your hope is to stop drilling from every happening by repeating your fear tactics. Drilling for natural gas does not pollute ground water supplies as we’ve discussed many times before. The DEC has crafted some very tight drilling rules, the tightest and most restrictive in the world! But that doesn’t seem to be good enough for you.

    I have not accused anyone of being an eco-terrorist or a racist or unpatriotic, please don’t characterize me that way Angelo.

    Oh, and Elizabeth, I try to use language very accurately. I was referring to the fact that the Assembly is full of members of the Democrat party. And it is the Democrat party, not the Democratic party. So my use of the term is accurate. And increasingly, the Democrat party has nothing to do with being democratic (small “d”)!

    Gregg, I sincerely hope you’re right, but I’m afraid our flaky governor is nothing more than a marionette. I would love to be wrong, but in my opinion, it is a fait accompli. It does my heart good to see anti-drillers so worked up when I make a post like this, but I think they’re getting themselves into a dither over nothing. I think they’ve won. Hate to say that, but I have to call them like I see them.

  • David

    The Marcellus Drilling “News” should be called Marcellus Drilling Opinions and Propaganda. I’m frustrated that I could find only a small point or two of fact in this verbosity, which ironically makes the facts questionable, and my reading a waste of time.

    Do you really want me to accept this opinion piece as news? What we need is facts, ma’am. Free of bias please. We can experiment with a little larger perspective provided by facts underscored by second opinions. It would be refreshing to see community dialogue and inquiry lead to some wise-decision-making. The opinions are necessary, but first the facts should be presented, then judgments made.

  • David

    I forgot to ask, where’s the byline? It looks like the author is the commentator named Jim. I suggest a byline that includes the last name, perhaps with a hyperlink to an email address to field questions and comments.

    The text of S8129B is information needed by the public. Thanks for that, but no thanks for the biased interpretation.

  • ADG1984

    This is upstate land repo phase 2, by guess who? When they shake out the stuggling land owners drilling will proceed full bore.

  • rebtris

    I drove a water truck delivering water to Marcellus sites for nearly a year and I can tell you that there is a BIG possibility for ground water to get contaminated. We used to dump the flowback and sometimes even the drilling mud into some of the frac pits and I reported to my boss one morning that one of the huge pits that had really nasty stuff in it seemed to be going down in water level even though no one was using it and the weather had not been hot enough to evaporate that much. I said I suspected it might be leaking. I was brushed off with a shrug and a look that said just keep your mouth shut. I’ve seen one beautiful stream polluted terribly by us pulling water out and some of the drivers were careless when they had been hauling mud or brine and would let some of it into the creek.. you can’t tell me that water contamination doesn’t happen. I’ve seen it with my own eyes.

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