The New York State Assembly has voted to impose a two-year moratorium on hydrofracking, the controversial method of extracting natural gas from deep rock formations. Members expressed concerns that EPA and independent health studies currently underway should be completed before any decision is reached. (See our previous coverage.)
The Democrat-controlled Assembly recently amended its bill to extend a moratorium to May 15, 2015. It was initially set to expire on May 15, 2014. The State Senate, led by Republicans has yet to vote. But on Tuesday, Sen. David Carlucci, D-Rockland/Westchester, introduced a similar but separate bill saying this would help ensure that three ongoing public health studies would be fully considered.
Carlucci’s bill would require the Commissioner of Health to take these outside, independent studies into consideration. In turn, all scientific data compiled would have to be reviewed before the DEC finalizes and proposes any recommendations relating to the permitting of hydrofracking in the state.
Senator Carlucci noted: ““A quick buck is not worth the long-term debt that our children will have to live with if we get this decision wrong. Rushing to judgment without all of the facts is a recipe for a disaster, particularly involving a hydrofracking process that lacks transparency and accountability, and has appeared to pose significant harmful health effects towards populations surrounding the Marcellus Shale. I cannot in good conscience support any measure that does not first fully evaluate all related scientific data, and that is precisely what we are advocating for here today. Let’s get the facts at our disposal before we launch into unchartered territory.”
The three health studies to be considered are: 1) an investigation by the federal Environmental Protection Agency regarding the impacts of fracking on drinking water supplies; (2) a study by Geisinger Health Systems to evaluate health impacts in Pennsylvania; and (3) a study into health impacts to be conducted by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, Johns Hopkins, and the University of North Carolina.
According to the Democrat and Chronicle, the Assembly bill contains provisions that are “similar” to a 2012 bill that they also passed. But the new bill differs in that it would “prohibit the state from issuing permits to drill in the Utica and Marcellus, the two formations where high-volume hydraulic fracturing would be used to unlock natural gas.”
Joyce H. Newman is an Emmy Award-winning environmental journalist, educator, and gardener. She holds a Certificate in Horticulture from The New York Botanical Garden, and is a tour guide there.