New York Considers Extending Fracking Moratorium

Published February 3, 2012

New York legislators are debating extending the state’s de facto moratorium on hydraulic fracturing for another year. The current moratorium on permits for new fracking projects, imposed in 2008, is set to expire on June 1, 2012.

Regulatory Structure Not in Place
Sen. Greg Ball (R-Patterson), who is leading extension efforts in the upper chamber, says the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has to put the proper mechanisms in place before hydraulic fracturing expands into New York.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) fiscal year 2012-13 budget does not include any funding for additional natural gas drilling regulators. The Department of Environmental Conservation has estimated it would need an additional 140 employees to monitor the industry.

Ball says his desire to keep in place the moratorium on new fracking operations was solidified by a tour of Bradford County, Pennsylvania he took last summer. He says property owners claimed to be negatively impacted by hydraulic fracturing operations.

Four Years of Study
DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said in a press statement following the closure of public comment on the state’s draft hydraulic fracturing rules that the agency has carefully studied the issue for nearly four years and will continue to study each and every issue associated with this activity.

“DEC’s number one priority is to ensure conditions for high-volume hydraulic fracturing fully protect public health and the environment,” said Martens. “If high-volume hydraulic fracturing moves forward in New York, it will move forward with the strictest standards in the nation to ensure New York’s drinking water and other natural resources are thoroughly protected.”

Record of Safety in NY
Assemblywoman Janet Duprey (R-Peru) says although she understands the concerns of those living in the New York City watershed, she does not think it is fair to prevent responsible development in other areas of the state.

“Unfortunately this bill will stop all fracking, virtually shutting down the natural gas drilling that has been ongoing for decades in the western part of the state,” said Duprey. “I cannot support a bill that will have such devastating economic impact on a part of New York.”
A June 2011 study produced by the Manhattan Institute found ending the moratorium would spur $11.4 billion in economic output and create 15,000-90,000 jobs, depending on the adopted regulatory regime. The study also found a typical Marcellus gas well generates about $4 million in economic benefits against justs $14,000 in economic damages.

John Monaghan ([email protected]) is the legislative specialist for energy and environment issues at the Heartland Institute.