Updates from the Commission on Solid Waste Management

Assemblymembers Steven Englebright and Alan Maisel Call for an Immediate Moratorium on Hydraulic Fracturing for Natural Gas and the Importation of Waste Hydraulic Drilling Fluids
Legislators also call for an immediate ban on drilling in and adjacent to State Parks
April 29, 2010

Assemblymember Steven Englebright, (D, E. Setauket), Chair of the Assembly Committee on Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports Development, and Assemblymember Alan Maisel (D, Brooklyn), Chair of the Assembly Legislative Commission on Solid Waste Management today announced the introduction of three new bills that would:

  • place an immediate moratorium on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in New York State until the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) completes its 2-year study to examine the impacts on water quality and public health from this drilling technique; (Englebright, A 10490);
  • place an immediate moratorium on importation of hydraulic fracturing drilling fluids for disposal into New York, pending completion of the EPA study (Maisel, A10710); and
  • prohibit hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling on or within one mile of state park lands (Englebright, A 10641).

Assemblymember Englebright stated “It is foolhardy to rush to utilize hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling techniques before the Environmental Protection Agency has completed its study of the adverse impacts that hydraulic fracturing and fracturing fluids may have on water quality and public health. In our search for cleaner fuel and energy independence, we need to ensure that we don’t destroy our environmental quality and water supply in the process.”

Assemblymember Maisel stated “The drilling companies have already begun to utilize New York in the most inappropriate way – using our landfills as a dumping ground for waste hydraulic fracturing drilling fluids from out-of-state. There has been little or no oversight into this practice and I am concerned that New Yorkers may be exposed to hazardous materials, including fluids contaminated with radioactive materials, being dumped in New York.”

Englebright further stated “We must also protect our State Parks from being despoiled by drilling rigs, trucks and other equipment and toxic drilling fluids. These irreplaceable treasures have been set aside to conserve our natural, cultural, and historic resources and to provide opportunities for enjoying healthful outdoor recreation as well as being outdoor classrooms for environmental education.

Englebright and Maisel noted: “New Yorkers have voiced great concern and opposition to this destructive approach for natural gas production. The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation received thousands of comments on its Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) against the proposed drilling. People are not willing to sell the environment for a cupful of natural gas. It makes no sense to us that we would be willing to create significant environmental, public health and economic problems to solve our energy supply problems“

Assemblymember Englebright noted “As a geologist, I am acutely aware of the potential for great harm from this technique – a technique that until recently was not considered economically feasible for removing natural gas from shale. No one has discussed the potential for creating earthquakes from fracturing rock deep in the ground, such as happened in Switzerland several years ago.”

Hydraulic fracturing coupled with horizontal drilling which can extend for up to a mile from the vertical drill site, is a technique whereby high-pressure sand, water and other unknown drilling fluids are forced into the ground, creating fractures in the rock. The purpose of this technique is to stimulate natural gas or oil well production.

The Englebright bill (A.10490) and the Maisel bill (A.10710) would continue the moratoria for 120 days following the issuance of the EPA study and report.