NY Governor Vetoes Fracking Legislation, Enacts Weaker Moratorium

Just two weeks ago we were celebrating an amazing grassroots victory when the New York state Assembly voted to put a temporary moratorium on the controversial gas drilling practice of hydraulic fracturing or "fracking." But unfortunately, it seems that Governor Paterson succumbed to industry pressure (and the $1 million they spent in the fight) and Paterson vetoed the legislation.

While this is a step in the wrong direction, all is not lost. Because of the hard work of organizations that have been boosting public awareness on this issue Governor Paterson did place a moratorium of his own, it's just weaker than what would have been mandated by the legislation. Paterson's moratorium affects horizontal drilling and the legislation would have affected both vertical and horizontal drilling.

"While the state of New York must be commended for being the first in the nation to take this critical step in banning fracking, the out-going governor's decision makes little sense for consumers and the environment, as both horizontal and vertical fracking utilize toxic chemicals that can cause contamination of our drinking water, and both can release underground gases, which can lead to dangerous explosions," saidFood and Water Watch's Wenonah Hauter. "Unfortunately, Paterson's moratorium, which lasts until July of 2011, will expire before the 2012 release of a much-anticipated EPA study, the first of its kind, on the safety of fracking. It is therefore our hope that incoming Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo will strengthen the moratorium when he takes office, lengthening the ban and broadening it to include all forms of fracking."

Craig Michaels of Riverkeeper told the New York Times, "By carving out an exception for vertical wells that do not even exist yet, the governor did not save any jobs and did not assure the proper protection of water quality statewide. The environmental community will be watching closely to assure that industry does not side-step environmental review by conducting an onslaught of vertical drilling and then converting those vertical wells to horizontal wells."

Indeed the environmental community will be watching closely and continuing to organize as Dan Cantor of the Working Families Partyconcluded in a statement to members, "In the coming days, we'll be launching a new campaign to cut the power that corporate contributions have over our politicians and government here in New York. We'll also prepare for the next stage in the fight to prevent fracking and protect our water." Join in.

AlterNet / By Tara Lohan

Posted at December 14, 2010, 7:36am

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