A state senator from the Hudson Valley has introduced a bill to codify New York’s fracking ban. The legislation would also ban a form of waterless fracking. A number of environmental advocates are supporting the bill.
State Senator Jen Metzger announced her bill December 17, marking the five-year anniversary of New York’s fracking ban. Governor Andrew Cuomo and state health officials announced the ban in 2014 following years of study and debate.
“The legislation also bans gelled propane hydraulic fracturing, which the fossil fuel industry has been pushing as an alternative to the use of water, but which is just as bad and carries the additional risk of being explosive,” Metzger says.
She says the bill furthers the goals of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act signed this year, shifting toward a clean energy economy that doesn’t depend on fossil fuels. Fellow Democratic State Senator Liz Krueger is co-prime sponsor of the bill, and helped lead the way to the legislature’s passage of a moratorium on fracking in 2011.
“This is such an important next step in our work to protect New Yorkers, and, I believe, the country from fracked gas,” Krueger says.
Karen Moreau is executive director of the American Petroleum Institute, New York. In an emailed statement, she says, “Hydraulic fracturing continues to bring massive benefits to both the U.S. 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.”
Metzger represents the 42nd District, which includes all of Sullivan County and parts of Delaware, Orange and Ulster Counties.
“I want to note that a significant portion of my state Senate district is under laid by Utica and Marcellus Shale deposits, including parts of Ulster, Sullivan and Delaware Counties,” Metzger says. “And I’m concerned to protect the health and well-being of the communities I represent in these counties as well as elsewhere in New York.”
Dr. Kathy Nolan is a member of the Steering Committees of both Concerned Health Professionals of New York and the New York chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility. The outgoing Ulster County legislator says codifying the ban would protect human health and help address climate change.
“Banning fracking protects residents from multiple conditions, including increases in asthma and other respiratory illnesses, cardiovascular disease, pre-term births, low birth-weight infants and possibly also from cancers, congenital birth defects and severe neurologic conditions,” Nolan says.
She says it is essential that gelled propane fracking also be banned by law as it, too, poses adverse environmental and health impacts. Actor, director and advocate Mark Ruffalo says New York’s future includes clean energy, not fracking.
“New York’s future is wind, solar, geothermal, energy efficiency, heat pumps, electric cars agriculture beer, wine, technology and recreation,” Ruffalo says. “These all create jobs while protecting the environment and public health.”
Singer-songwriter Natalie Merchant has long advocated against fracking.
“The scientific evidence was clear and conclusive in 2014, and the arguments against fracking have only grown stronger since,” Merchant says. “New York needs to pursue a path to a post-fossil fuel future, and this bill will continue moving us toward that goal. So let’s ban fracking now and forever.”
By way of disclosure, Merchant has performed benefit concerts for WAMC in the past. Roger Downs is conservation director for the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter.
“We’ve seen the Trump administration over the past two years rescind nearly 85 rules and regulations pertaining to environmental protection, safeguards that were based upon previous presidential or agency action, but not enshrined in law,” says Downs. “It is a stark reminder to all New Yorkers that we should codify all our own recent environmental commitments while there is general political agreement between the legislature and the governor.”
So far there is no Assembly sponsor. Metzger and Krueger are confident there will be plenty of support in both houses.