A top Senate Republican says he will fight to keep a potential moratorium on hydraulic fracturing from getting a vote.
Senate Deputy Majority Leader Thomas Libous, R-Binghamton, said his goal is to “make sure no (moratorium) bill passes the Senate.” Libous, a staunch fracking supporter whose district sits within the gas-rich Marcellus Shale formation, said he doesn’t want to see it on the Senate floor for a vote.
“I’m going to try to make sure that it doesn’t,” he said Thursday. “I feel that strongly on that issue.”
Libous’ comments came a day after the state Assembly passed a bill that would prohibit drilling in the Marcellus and Utica shale formations until May 15, 2015. On Tuesday, Sen. David Carlucci, D-Clarkstown, Rockland County, introduced a similar but separate bill in the Senate. Carlucci is a member of the Independent Democratic Conference, which shares control of the chamber with the GOP.
Opponents of fracking—who say the technique could cause irreparable environmental harm—are hoping the IDC may be able to get a vote on a moratorium, while supporters—who point to gas drilling’s economic and energy benefits—will be leaning on the GOP.
Carlucci on Thursday said his bill would ensure a decision on fracking isn’t made on an “arbitrary timetable.” His legislation would tie a moratorium to the completion of two outside studies of shale-gas drilling’s impacts: one from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the other from Geisinger Health System.
“I can appreciate my colleague’s concerns,” Carlucci said of Libous’ comments. “I think the important thing is we need to put New Yorkers’ health first and I think the prudent thing to do would be to wait for these studies to be done, get the science on the table and get all the data possible.”
In the meantime, high-volume hydrofracking remains on hold in New York as Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration continues a review of its potential health impacts. New York’s review was first launched in 2008, and Cuomo has yet to make a decision on large-scale fracking since inheriting the issue when he took office in 2011.
“I’m going to lobby my colleagues in the IDC. I’m going to lobby my Republican colleagues,” Libous said. “Let the (Department of Environmental Conservation) and Health Department give the governor a recommendation and then we’ll either move forward or we won’t.”
(AP file photo)