Enacts the "look before you leap act of 2014" to establish a 5 year moratorium on high volume hydraulic fracturing and the conducting of an investigation thereon.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to enact the "look before you leap act of 2014" relating to the imposition of a 5 year moratorium on high volume hydraulic fracturing for the purpose of conducting an investigation of the effect of hydraulic fracturing
PURPOSE: This bill seeks to place a 5 year moratorium upon hydraulic fracturing in New York State in order to learn from the fracking experiences of other states and particularly neighboring Pennsylvania and requires the state university centers at Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo and Stony Brook to conduct an investigation into the cumulative impacts of hydraulic fracturing across the country, which is necessitated by the exemptions granted to the oil and gas industry from major federal environmental laws that protect our air, lands and water.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Establishes a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing for the extraction of natural gas or oil for a 5 year period during which time the university research centers in New York State shall conduct an investigation into the cumulative impacts of this relatively new and rapidly expanding technology.
JUSTIFICATION: The relatively new drilling method known as high-volume hydraulic fracturing or fracking carries significant environmental risks. Among the adverse environmental impacts associated the fracking such as heavy truck traffic, road building and site clearing, the process itself involves drilling into the earth and pumping millions of gallons of water under high pressure into the ground that is mixed with sand and laced with industrial chemicals which the industry is not legally bound to disclose. The poisonous fluid fractures the shale and releases natural gas deposits for collection. In addition to the chemically laden water pumped into the drill site, highly corrosive salts, carcinogens like benzene and radioactive elements like radium all can occur naturally thousands of feet underground and combine with the fracking fluids to create millions of gallons of highly salinated toxic wastewater.
Thousands of internal documents recently obtained by the New York Times from the Environmental Protection Agency reveal that wastewater, which is sometimes hauled to sewage plants not designed to treat it, is then discharged into rivers that supply drinking water, containing radioactivity at levels higher than previously known, and far higher than the level that federal regulators say is safe for the treatment plants to handle. The NYT reports that pressure and influence from the gas industry and lawmakers from states that support hydro-fracking have effectively pressured the federal government to allow the industry unfettered growth. Despite alarming accounts reported in the media from gas producing states across the country, the EPA has not intervened, in large part because of the industry's exemptions and exclusions from federal environmental protection laws.
Next door in Pennsylvania there has been a doubling of active wells from 36,000 in 2000 to 71,000 in 2010. Governor Tom Corbett has been quoted as saying Pennsylvania will become the next Texas of the gas industry. He has recently given new powers to the Secretary of Community and Economic Development that give authority to override
Environmental Protection and other agencies if he thinks they are slowing Marcellus expansion, despite over 1400 violations of environmental law that DEP cited against gas drillers just last year. The NYT further reports that federal and state regulators around the country are allowing most sewage treatment plants that accept drilling waste not to lest for radioactivity. However, most drinking water intake plants downstream from sewage treatment plants in Pennsylvania that accept hydrofracking wastewater have not tested for radioactivity since before 2006, even though the drilling boom began in 2008.
Drillers in Pennsylvania trucked at least half of the wastewater to public sewage treatment plants in 2008 and 2009 according to state officials but some of it has been sent to other states, including New York.
Despite the much anticipated EPA study concerning the impacts of hydro-fracking on drinking water due out this year, recent reports by the NYT suggest the scope of the study is being narrowed through gas industry influence. New York State must continue to be vigilant where questions of water quality and public health are concerned and must have all available information before allowing a questionable practice such as hydraulic fracturing to take place without fully knowing the potential dangers. This legislation places a 5 year moratorium on hydro-fracking in New York State in order to benefit from the fracking experiences of other states and to make an independent and reasoned evaluation of the potential benefits and adverse impacts associated with this rapidly expanding technology.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2012 S.6703.
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: To be determined.
EFFECTIVE DATE: Immediately.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 4276--A 2013-2014 Regular Sessions IN SENATE March 19, 2013 ___________Introduced by Sen. LAVALLE -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Environmental Conservation -- recommitted to the Committee on Environmental Conservation in accordance with Senate Rule 6, sec. 8 -- committee discharged, bill amended, ordered reprinted as amended and recommitted to said commit- tee AN ACT to enact the "look before you leap act of 2014" relating to the imposition of a 5 year moratorium on high volume hydraulic fracturing for the purpose of conducting an investigation of the effect of hydraulic fracturing THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Short title. This act shall be known and may be cited as the "look before you leap act of 2014." S 2. Legislative findings. The legislature hereby finds that the drilling method, known as high-volume hydraulic fracturing or hydro- fracking, carries significant environmental risks that impact land, air and water resources. The legislature further finds that the natural gas industry has exemptions or exclusions from key parts of at least seven of the major federal environmental laws designed to protect air and water from radio- active and hazardous chemicals including: the national Environmental Policy Act; the Clean Air Act; the Clean Water Act; the Safe Drinking Water Act; the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act; the Superfund Act; and the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act. S 3. (a) There is hereby established a 5 year moratorium on the conducting of high volume hydraulic fracturing in this state to provide an opportunity for the state to learn from the hydrofracking experiences of other states, which is necessitated by the exemptions, granted to the natural gas industry, from major federal laws protecting our air, land and water from radioactive and toxic wastes, and to make a comprehensiveEXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD09684-02-4 S. 4276--A 2
and cumulative examination of the environmental impacts associated with the recent rapid expansion of hydrofracking across the United States, with particular emphasis on the natural gas boom that began in the neighboring state of Pennsylvania 3 years ago, and information therefrom shall be available to the public concerning these cumulative impacts to our nation's air, land and water resources. (b) The state university of New York university centers at Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo and Stony Brook shall in cooperation with each other conduct an investigation into the practice of high volume hydraulic fracturing in conformance with subdivision (a) of this section. On or before the fifth year following the effective date of this act, such university centers shall jointly issue a report of their findings and recommendations as a result of the investigations conducted pursuant to this section. Such report shall be submitted to the governor, the commissioner of environmental conservation and the legislature, and shall be published and made available to the public. S 4. This act shall take effect immediately.