Despite the December 2014 existing regulatory ban on hydraulic fracturing from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the new legislation – Senate Bill 6906 – is focused on providing New York with a permanent legal protection from hydraulic fracturing activities, including gelled propane fracking, a new process being advocated by the oil and gas industries. New York Sen. Jen Metzger stated that more than five years after the current ban was put in place, more than 1,000 scientific studies have been undertaken to confirm the public dangers associated with fracking. Sen. Metzger further stated that the bill’s intent is to shift towards a clean energy economy that doesn’t depend on fossil fuels.
In addition to gelled propane fracking, the proposed bill prohibits high-volume hydraulic fracturing, which the bill defines as “the stimulation of a well using 300,000 or more gallons of water as the base fluid for hydraulic fracturing for all stages in a well completion, regardless of whether the well is vertical or directional, including horizontal.” While this bill has gained significant support within New York and from other groups, such as the Sierra Club, the executive director of the American Petroleum Institute was discouraged by the law. She was quoted as saying, “Hydraulic fracturing continues to bring massive benefits to both the United States and global economies, while improved technologies have made it safer than ever. New York already benefits from abundant, clean and reliable natural gas produced by our neighbors in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, and it’s a shame that New Yorkers aren’t able to tap into those same resources and economic opportunities.”
While this legislation will likely present controversy within New York state, it will be interesting to see whether it will have any impact on fracking regulations beyond the state’s borders.