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New York Lawmakers Drop Fracking Health Impact Study

Funding for a proposed study of the health impacts of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is not included in a $132.5 billion state budget that the New York State Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo agreed to on Tuesday.

A proposal to fund a $100,000 State University of New York study of the potential health effects of fracking was left on the table during final budget negotiations on Monday, according to a spokesman for Assemblyman Robert Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst). "The money for the health impact study is not in the budget," the spokesman told NGI's Shale Daily.

Sweeney introduced a bill (A 2924) in January that would require the state to prepare "an environmental impact statement for any natural gas or oil drilling involving the use of hydraulic fracturing fluid." Sen. Tony Avella (D-Queens County), who introduced a Senate version of the bill (S 6772), has said he and many other Democrats in the Senate believe "hydrofracking is the wrong way to go."

Still under study is the New York Department of Environmental Conservation's (DEC) revised supplemental generic environmental impact statement (SGEIS) on fracking.

A moratorium on drilling horizontal wells in the New York portion of the Marcellus Shale has been in effect since then-Gov. David Paterson ordered the DEC to complete the SGEIS nearly three years ago (see Daily GPI, July 28, 2008). Key supporters of shale development in the state have said the DEC's proposed rules are too restrictive and in their current form would drive operators to other states (see Shale Daily, Jan. 17).

DEC Commissioner Joe Martens has said the agency received more than 60,000 comments on its recommendations in the revised SGEIS, and more than 6,000 people attended public hearings on the practice (see Shale Daily, Feb. 8). The DEC has already recommended that fracking be banned in the watersheds of New York City and Syracuse (see Shale Daily, July 5, 2011).

Courts have recently upheld local ordinances banning oil and gas operations in some New York towns (see Shale Daily, Feb. 29).

The budget agreement includes $16.2 million to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority for research and development programs and the development of a 2013 State Energy Plan, which is part of Cuomo's Energy Highway Initiative.

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