New York’s Assembly on Wednesday approved a two-year ban on the natural-gas drilling method known as fracking, after two previous attempts to block the practice failed and with the state Senate taking a different approach.
The state has been studying the safety of hydraulic fracturing since 2008, and blocked its use in the meantime. The Assembly’s ban would lift in May 2015. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, has said he’s waiting until the Health Department concludes a separate analysis to make a decision.
“We will not sit idly by and endanger the health and safety of our communities by rushing necessary health and safety reviews,” said Sheldon Silver, the Manhattan Democrat who leads the chamber. “We need to better understand the broad impacts to our environment, our economy and the health and safety of all who work and live in New York.”
The growth of fracking, in which water and chemicals are injected into shale rock formations to free trapped oil and gas, helped push natural-gas prices to a decade low last year. U.S. natural gas production is at record highs and U.S. oil output in February rose to the highest since 1992.
A bill introduced Wednesday in the Senate would put off the decision by Cuomo for up to two years.
Each house wants to provide time for the Cuomo administration to consider state, federal, university and private sector studies. Key among them is a health review in Pennsylvania known as the Geisinger study that will compare data about residents near gas drilling wells before and after the process was allowed.
Cuomo has said he’ll await recommendations from his health and environmental conservation departments. He has not set a deadline for that process.
Last month, Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joseph Martens said the state would begin issuing fracking permits before creating regulations if the Health Department says natural-gas drilling is safe.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.