Final Push to Pass Two Critical Gas Bills in NYS

The NYS Assembly is scheduled to return to Albany next Monday for an “extraordinary session” called by Governor Paterson to address outstanding issues (primarily related to the budget).  This provides one of the last opportunities of the year for the Assembly to pass two vital bills related to gas production in New York.

The first bill (A11443-B) would impose a formal moratorium on any new drilling using the controversial technology of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking ,” until May of next year to give the state additional time to fully consider fracking’s risks and whether they could be effectively managed to protect human health and the environment.  The measure passed the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support in August.  Watch this video from Mark Ruffalo and take the action at the end to call on Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to bring this important measure up for a vote when the Assembly is back in Albany next week.  You can also take action here.

The second bill (A11436-B) – which has also already passed the Senate – would give the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation critically needed authority to regulate withdrawals of water for use in commercial activities, including fracking.  Right now, DEC lacks this fundamental authority, which means that gas companies have the legal right to come in and suck up as much water as they want from the state’s rivers and streams.  This threatens the quality of the state’s precious waterbodies, with nobody to mind the store.

Both measures stand a strong chance of gaining the governor’s signature and becoming law.  We just need the Assembly to agree to take them up next week.

Please take a moment to call Speaker Silver and ask him to ensure that both bills are brought to a vote next week.  Please also call Governor Paterson and urge him to sign both measures into law when they come to his desk.

We still have a chance to send a message to the gas companies and to the rest of the country that New York is insisting on a different path: one that says no new drilling unless and until they can show us it’s safe.