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State Assembly proposes to ban fracking for another year

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is one of the sponsors of a bill to ban fracking in New York state at least until May of next year.

The bill, sponsored by Silver, Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Robert Sweeney, and 44 others Assembly members, would impose a moratorium on issuing hydrofracking permits in New York until May 15, 2014.  The bill argues the delay is needed to give  the state and its residents more time to “continue the review and analysis of any potential  effects on water and air quality, environmental safety and public health.”

Katherine Nadeau, with the group Environmental Advocates of New York says it’s a step in the right direction.

“We need a hard timeout on the fracking decision-making process,” Nadeau said. “So that we can get the science and the information back that we need.”

Nadeau says the votes are likely there for the bill to pass in the Senate. But Senate Republicans who jointly control the chamber with five breakaway Democrats, would have to agree to a fracking moratorium first, before the bill could be put on the floor for a vote.   

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration is still reviewing fracking, but the state’s environmental commissioner says permits could be issued as soon as 10 days after the governor’s health commissioner completes an ongoing health review.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.