Gannett reporter Jon Campbell reports that a bill to extend New York’s moratorium on hydraulic fracturing until June 2013 is now circulating in Albany and is expected to be introduced soon by the the Assembly environmental chairman:
The legislation, which would officially ban hydrofracking for natural gas in New York until June 1, 2013, is sure to garner support from Assembly Democrats, who have long spoken out against the much-debated technique.
Sen. Greg Ball, R-Patterson, Putnam County, said last month that he was planning on sponsoring the bill in the Senate, giving it an all-important majority sponsor. But it’s much less likely to gain support from Senate Republican leadership, with both Sens. Tom Libous, R-Binghamton, and George Maziarz, R-Newfane, Niagara County, very supportive of hydrofracking. (Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County, has voiced his support as well, though he did vote for a 2010 moratorium that was ultimately vetoed.)
Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton, D-Ithaca, issued a statement today saying she has signed on to co-sponsor the bill. The lead sponsor will be Assembly Environmental Conservation Chairman Robert Sweeney, D-Suffolk County.*
Meanwhile, the official comment period for new draft drilling regulations from the state DEC, known as the SGEIS (Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement) is due to close on Jan. 11. Landowners and those who support drilling are encouraged to submit comments to the DEC by that date. You may do so by visiting www.naturalgasnow.org/sgeis.
MDN’s view: As a New York resident, I am distressed at the ongoing delays. Fracking is safe when done right, and there’s no reason to further delay its introduction to New York. It’s obvious that Joe Martens, Commissioner of the DEC, is intentionally delaying its introduction so that opposition, like this new legislation, has time to organize and eventually kill drilling outright. Since new drilling rules will not be released any time soon, it’s time for landowners and non-landowners who support drilling to unite and litigate. If it’s going to take years anyway, better to start the process now using the law, which is on our side, to force the state to stop violating our property rights.
*Rochester Democrat and Chronicle (Jan 5, 2012) – Lawmakers circulating hydrofracking moratorium bill