On Monday, the New York State Assembly voted 89-34 in favor of a three-year statewide moratorium on hydraulic fracturing. But with the legislative session ending in just a few days, the Senate appears unlikely to take up the bill, rendering the vote largely symbolic.
Speaker Sheldon Silver emphasized the need for caution in exploring New York’s natural gas deposits.
“We have heard from thousands of residents across the state about many issues associated with hydrofracking, and prudent leadership demands that we take our time to address all these concerns,” said Silver. “The natural gas deposits within the Marcellus Shale are not going to go anywhere.”
Hydraulic fracturing has been stalled in New York for over five years while the state continues studying the environmental and health effects of the practice. Governor Andrew Cuomo has come under fire for what some believe are politically-motivated delays in issuing final environmental rulings.
In fact, a group of landowners—the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York—has sued New York for illegally delaying a final decision on hydraulic fracturing, alleging both administrative law and constitutional takings claims. The Assembly bill could essentially moot those claims, at least until 2017.
A large number of municipalities within the state have enacted their own fracking bans. But the New York Court of Appeals is now considering whether those bans are preempted by state law.