Protecting New York's Drinking Water

August 10, 2010

Public Officials Join Actor Mark Ruffalo, Residents & Advocates to Urge
Moratorium on Gas Drilling Which Could Pollute NYC’s Drinking Water

Gas drilling in New York could contaminate the drinking water of more than 12 million NYC-area residents. Putting public safety over the interests of gas companies, the Senate Democratic Majority has passed legislation mandating a temporary moratorium on gas drilling (“hydro-fracking”) to ensure adequate time to research safety measures and regulations.
The Senate, on August 3, 2010, overwhelmingly passed S8129B/Thompson by a vote of 48-9. This bill provides for a suspension, until May 15, 2011, of the issuance of new permits for the drilling of a well which utilizes the practice of hydraulic fracturing. The legislation is now awaiting action by the Assembly before it can be sent to the Governor for his support.
This moratorium will help to accomplish several goals, including:

  • Providing an extended period of time to study this new technology before permits are issued and drilling is allowed.
  • Ensuring environmental experts and the public have time to review any proposed regulations and offer ways to make them stronger.
  • Allocating enough time for the Legislature to review the DEC’s conclusions on the environmental impact of the gas drilling.

Senator Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan) said, "As it stands now, there is no way we can allow a practice such as hydro-fracking, which has already raised so many red flags, to occur in a New York watershed that supplies millions of people with drinking water. The simple fact is that we need more time to do our homework on this issue so that we can say with 100% certainty whether or not hydro-fracking is safe for New Yorkers and our environment. Anything less than 100% certainty is just not acceptable."
Senator Joseph P. Addabbo (D-Queens) said, “I believe the Senate bill, which provides for a 10-month moratorium, provides a rational, prudent approach to the practice of hydro-fracking. This drilling process has possible short- and long-term health and safety implications and is the subject of a pending DEC report, which needs to be reviewed and evaluated. I look forward to working with the DEC on this issue as we seek to avoid any risks to our environment and personal safety. I thank my constituents for bringing this issue to my attention last year and the hundreds of residents across New York who signed petitions, wrote letters and attended rallies to show Albany that we needed this legislation. The Senate has taken the first step toward protecting our drinking water. Our important next step is getting support from the Assembly, to bring this drilling moratorium bill to the floor for a vote, followed by the Governor's signature."
Senator Diane Savino (D-Staten Island/Brooklyn) said, “Now is not the time to be risking our state’s most precious natural resource and a commodity that’s becoming increasingly rare—clean drinking water.  We do not need to look any further than the devastation in the Gulf of Mexico to realize that there is no financial benefit worth risking the safety of New York’s water supply. Until the public impact has been sufficiently assessed, we cannot endanger the drinking water source for millions of New Yorkers. I commend Senator Thompson for his leadership on this issue.”
Senator Daniel Squadron (D-Brooklyn/Manhattan) said, "New York has some of the purest tap water in the world, and we need to keep it that way.  I am proud of the work we have done to protect our water supply from hydro-fracking; risking it is not an option. I appreciate the leadership of Senator Thompson and Senator Addabbo, and the work Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer has done to raise public awareness of this vital issue."
Senate President Pro-Tempore Malcolm A. Smith said, “As elected officials, the public entrusts us with their safety in the decisions that we make. I am proud that the Senate Majority has made the right decision to temporarily postpone the practice of hydro-fracking in New York. This legislation is necessary to ensure that proper research and testing is thoroughly completed prior to taking any action that could negatively affect New York’s drinking water.  I applaud Senator Thompson for his diligence with regards to requiring this temporary moratorium.”
Senator Velmanette Montgomery (D-Brooklyn), a co-sponsor of this legislation said, "The more we learn, the more it seems that hydro-fracking is a dangerous technique that poses unacceptable risks for both New York City's water supply and for upstate residents who are being approached by gas development companies. This moratorium is absolutely necessary to ensure that final decisions are made only after sufficient independent studies have been performed. We cannot risk the future of the water supply of New York State nor the health of New Yorkers."
Senator Kevin Parker (D-Brooklyn) said, “I urge the Assembly not to be penny wise and pound foolish to take up this course of action and allowing hydro-fracking in the Marcellus Shale without proper study and preparation for the energy use, the economic development and more importantly the clean up. We cannot progress blindly into this new frontier, rather we must move forward with eyes wide open to both the benefits and consequences this technology can provide to the people of New York. Not only is this course of action necessary, it is common sense.”
Senator Suzi Oppenheimer (D-Mamaroneck) said, "Natural gas can be an important source of energy for New York, provided that it can be extracted without endangering our water supply and our long-term health.  I urge the Assembly and the Governor to support the moratorium on hydro-fracking in Marcellus Shale and afford the DEC time to complete its safety study of this controversial form of natural gas drilling.”
Senator Thomas K. Duane (D, WFP-Manhattan) said, “I am proud that the New York State Senate Majority has taken this important step toward the protection of our public health and precious natural resources. For more than two years, I have worked with environmental and community advocates and other elected officials to raise awareness about the dangers of high-volume hydraulic fracturing and the environmental catastrophes that have been associated with it throughout the nation.  By passing this legislation, we have sent a message that New York must not allow the short-sighted pursuit of financial gains at the expense of our clean water and safe communities.  I will continue to fight to ensure that hydro-fracking is prohibited throughout the State until and unless the technology improves to a point that it no longer poses a threat to our health and natural resources.”
Senator Brian X. Foley (D-Blue Point) said, "The moratorium on hydro-fracking is essential to give the regulators the time necessary to ensure our state does not repeat the mistakes made in neighboring states that put the public's drinking water in peril.”
Statements in Support
Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn said, “I commend the New York State Senate’s passage of the hydro-fracking moratorium, and I stand firmly with City Council Environmental Protection Committee Chair Jim Gennaro, my fellow Council Members, and the Hudson Valley community activists gathered here today in our commitment to protecting the environment and New York City’s water supply. I call on the New York State Assembly and Governor Paterson to build on the State Senate’s momentum and see that this bill is signed into law.”
Councilman James F. Gennaro (D-Queens) said, "The passage of the hydraulic fracturing moratorium bill by the New York State Senate is an historic victory for all New Yorkers. I urge the Assembly to follow the lead of the Senate and for Governor Paterson to sign this historic first-in-the-nation hydraulic fracturing moratorium bill. I promise to continue my relentless advocacy to protect water supplies from hydraulic fracturing, to ensure that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency undertakes its proposed national study of hydraulic fracturing, and to see that strict and comprehensive regulations are ultimately instituted so that gas companies conduct their operations in an environmentally responsible manner and are held liable for any contamination they may cause.”
Mark Ruffalo, actor (“Shutter Island”, “The Kids Are All Right”) and spokesperson for Frack Action said, “I’ve met people from Pennsylvania who are dealing with the consequences of fracking. They trusted the  gas industry when they said this technology was safe, clean, and secure.  And now many families can’t drink their water, their kids are getting sick, and their homes have dropped in value. Time is of the essence, we must  learn from the mistakes of other states and keep our water safe.”
Susan Zimet, co-Director of Frack Action said, "The NY  State Senate showed real leadership and the world has taken notice as  far away as Australia. In response to the passage, their moratorium is back on the table. I know the Governor and Speaker Silver will act  on behalf of all New Yorkers by passing  this moratorium and signing it into law. The pressure will be great to stop them but they know that  the health and safety of our families are at stake."
Julia Walsh, co-Director of Frack Action said, "We are at a moment of crisis. Communities across the country are being ravaged by the irresponsible behavior of an industry that puts corporate profit over the health and safety of people. The NY State Senate has taken decisive action to protect New Yorkers.”
What Is Hydro-Fracking?
Hydro-fracking is the process of breaking apart the rock under the earth, in which some natural resources are trapped, by forcing millions of gallons of waters mixed with chemicals into the ground. These chemicals then work their way into the regular water supply.
The side effects of this process are extraordinarily costly and personally devastating, as families across Pennsylvania and other states have learned after rushing into drilling. The public health concerns are well documented and economically, if something went wrong, New Yorkers cannot afford to foot the bill. On top of the economic and health concerns, there are considerable safety hazards within the untested drilling process. Since May there have been two instances of gas wells exploding, and both took lives.
The extended time to research and study hydro-fracking technology provided by the moratorium will ensure New York does not join states like Pennsylvania and suffer the same consequences. Our state must take the alternate path to study this new technology and its effects in order to appropriately protect both our people and our environment.
The first step preserving safety for New Yorkers has been taken by the Senate, and as the DEC is beginning to prepare for the drilling license process it is crucial that the Assembly takes immediate action.
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