|Backed By Silver, Assembly Bill Would Delay Fracking Permits 1 Year
A bill quietly introduced today in the state Assembly would prevent state environmental regulators from issuing drilling permits for natural gas in the Marcellus and Utica shale regions until a full review of the health impacts can be assessed.
The measure is backed by a slew of Assembly Democrats, most notably Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee Chairman Bob Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
If passed, the measure would take effect immediately and expire by May 15, 2014.
For the advocacy community focused on the issue, itís a significant step given the uncertain timeline to complete the fracking review as laid out by the departments of Health and Environmental Conservation.
Thereís also the hope on the hydofracking oppositionís end that the mortatorium would provide some additional time to get early results from the various studies on public health and the environmental impacts.
Health Commissioner Nirav Shah announced in a letter to DEC Commissioner Joe Martens this month that his health assessment of hydrofracking would take more time to be released.
Martens in a subsequent statement announced that the review process would move forward, even if the state was missing a key regulatory deadline. Martens indicated that the state could approve drilling permits as the regulations were still being written if the health assessment deemed the process safe.
As lawmakers return this week after an extended mid-winter break and begin to focus on the budget, the hydrofracking moratorium bill could become a new flashpoint in the legislative session.
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