Sen. Greg Ball, once of the GOP’s most-vocal critics of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in New York, now says it’s time for the state to “cautiously” move forward with the much-debated technique.
In an essay distributed to the media Thursday, Ball, R-Patterson, Putnam County, said he now favors allowing a “three-year test”—that is, green-lighting a small number of fracking permits to be issued over three years in up to six counties in the economically depressed Southern Tier.
“Let’s be frank,” Ball wrote, “our friends upstate and in the Southern Tier are starving for job creation and without fracking will be left hopeless in a dying economy.”
Ball had been outspoken against fracking in recent years. (Check out this video of him stirring up an anti-fracking rally in Albany last January.) He has traveled to Pennsylvania to meet with families who say they have been adversely impacted by the natural gas industry and sponsored a bill to implement an official statewide fracking moratorium.
The state has been under a de facto moratorium on large-scale fracking since 2008, when it first launched an environmental review of the technique that continues today.
“After this three-year period we can allow a respected New York State university or college to do a study on the environmental, health and economic impacts,” Ball wrote. “Then based on this study we can make a final decision on fracking in New York State. Let the industry put their best foot forward and be judged exactly on their merits.”