NEW YORK, March 6 The New York State Assembly
passed legislation on Wednesday that extends the moratorium on
high-volume hydraulic fracturing in the state until May 2015 and
requires further studies on the environmental impact of the
practice known as fracking.
A moratorium on fracking has been in place in the Empire
State since 2008 because of concerns that the practice, which
involves pumping chemical-laced water and sand deep below the
surface to extract natural gas from shale, can contaminate water
The current legislation applies to the Utica and Marcellus
shale gas deposits, some of the most significant in the country.
It requires a full review process, including a new study to look
at the potential public health impact of fracking.
"We will not sit idly by and endanger the health and safety
of our communities by rushing necessary health and safety
reviews," Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said in a statement
before the vote.
The New York State Assembly, where Democrats outnumber
Republicans by a ratio of about 2 to 1, passed the legislation
by an unofficial count of 95 to 40.
The legislation passed by the Assembly must still be
approved by the state Senate, where its passage might be
complicated by a power-sharing arrangement between Republicans
and Democrats. But a Democratic majority in the Senate may be
enough to send it to Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is also a
Democrat, for final approval.