Senate Democrats on Wednesday renewed their push for a statewide ban on hydraulic fracturing, with two newly elected senators joining their cause.
New Sens. Cecilia Tkaczyk and Terry Gipson joined in on the Democrats’ press conference, making clear they support Queens Sen. Tony Avella’s bill to prevent hydrofracking in New York.
Gipson, of Rhinebeck, Dutchess County, said he takes issue with what takes place above ground in the fracking process — specifically, mixing water with chemicals that are then injected deep underground to fracture shale formations like the gas-rich Marcellus Shale.
“Let’s protect our water resources at a time where the entire country, the entire world is suffering from major drought,” said Gipson. “It does not make sense to be risking our water supplies.”
Dozens of bills regarding hydrofracking and shale-gas drilling have been floating in the state Legislature for the last few years, but hardly any have made it to the Senate floor for a vote. (The exception was a 2009 short-term moratorium passed when Democrats controlled the chamber, though it was vetoed by then-Gov. David Paterson.)
Now, Senate Republicans and the Independent Democratic Conference share power over the chamber, giving Avella hope that some of his fracking-related bills — including one that would classify drilling waste as hazardous — could reach the floor.
“The IDC has said they have the ability to bring bills to the floor,” Avella said. “The real test of that will be the ban bill and the hazardous waste bill to the floor.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration faces a Feb. 27 deadline for finalizing a set of fracking regulations or letting them expire. High-volume fracking was first put on hold in 2008, when the Department of Environmental Conservation first launched an environmental review of the technique, which continues today.
Here’s Tkaczyk, of Duanesburg, Schenectady County, discussing her opposition to fracking: