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
S T A T E O F N E W Y O R K
8129–B
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
BILL NUMBER:S8129B
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.

JUSTIFICATION:

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.

PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: New bill.

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None.

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: //open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/S8129B