Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Paterson Vetoes Hydrofracking Bill, But Issues His Own Ban

From the Rivertowns Patch.com (Read whole article here):

Gov. David Paterson has vetoed a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, a controversial natural gas drilling method, but replaced it with an executive order prohibiting the practice until July at the earliest.

At the heart of the issue is a specific method known as high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or "hydrofracking," in which millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals are blasted into existing wells to release gas deposits far below the surface. Industry officials are eyeing the vast Marcellus Shale, which extends from New York's Southern Tier into West Virginia, as a prime site for this type of extraction.

The moratorium bill would have banned all types of gas drilling, not just horizontal hydrofracking, until May 15. Paterson said the bill was too broad and would have resulted in job losses and decreased revenue for the cash-strapped state.

"Enacting this legislation would put people out of work - work that is permitted by the Department of Environmental Conservation and causes no demonstrated environmental harm, in order to effectuate a moratorium that is principally symbolic," Paterson said. "Symbols can have great importance, but particularly in our current terrible economic straits, I cannot agree to put individuals out of work for a symbolic act."

Paterson replaced the vetoed bill with an executive order that narrows the scope of the moratorium to include only horizontal hydrofracking, and not its vertical counterpart of other extraction methods. The ban will stay in effect until at least July 1, when the Department of Environmental Conservation is set to release the results of a study into the effects of hydrofracking on water and air quality.

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