Top Democrats in the state Assembly introduced a bill on Tuesday that would keep gas companies out of New York’s Marcellus and Utica shales until 2014.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Environmental Conservation Chairman Robert Sweeney are among more than 30 lawmakers signed onto the bill, which — if passed — would place a moratorium on drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus and Utica formations until May 14, 2014.
The bill is similar to one passed by the Assembly last year, but with some key differences. The new legislation specifically would prohibit the state from issuing permits to drill in the Utica and Marcellus, two formations where high-volume hydraulic fracturing would be used to unlock gas.
But, unlike the bill passed in 2012, it does not use the words “hydraulic fracturing.” Previous moratorium bills had been criticized by the gas industry for including low-volume, vertical fracking — a more conventional technique that has been used in New York for decades. (Then-Gov. David Paterson cited this as a reason he vetoed a moratorium in 2010.)
Of course, high-volume, horizontal fracking hasn’t been permitted in New York since the Department of Environmental Conservation launched a review of the technique. That review has not yet been finalized, keeping permits on hold.