NY groups cheer Vermont hydrofracking ban

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The state of Vermont became the first to officially ban the use of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas and oil, a move that appears to be somewhat symbolic but has New York groups pushing for a ban hoping for a boost.

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin signed the ban on Wedensday. It prohibits hydrofracking, though the gas-rich Marcellus and Utica shale formations are not believed to reach the state. It does, however, also prohibit the importing of hydrofracking waste for treatment.

Hydrofracking critics from New York hope the Vermont ban advances their cause. High-volume hydrofracking is on hold in New York as the state DEC works on an environmental review of the technique.

“When I went to VT to testify before the Senate committee it was refreshing to see legislators listening and asking important questions about the science,about the geology, the wastewater, and possible health impacts and showing real concern for their agriculture,” Wes Gillingham, Program Director of Catskill Mountainkeeper, said in a statement. “We urge Governor Cuomo and the New York State Legislature to listen to the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who have called for a ban in order to protect New York’s communities from fracking’s unacceptable dangers.”

American Petroleum Institute Director of State Government Relations Rolf Hanson responded to the initial decision by the Vermont legislature to pass the ban: “The decision by the Vermont legislature to pass a statewide ban on hydraulic fracturing follows an irresponsible path that ignores three major needs: jobs, government revenue and energy security.”

Advocates from Vermont who helped push for the ban were in Albany on Tuesday, partaking in a rally for New Yorkers Against Fracking, a coalition of hydrofracking critics.

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