The New York Senate late Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a temporary ban on drilling in the state's portion of the Marcellus Shale by a vote of 49 to 9.

The measure would prohibit new drilling permits until May 15, when further environmental studies by the Environmental Protection Agency are expected to be completed. The state's General Assembly has not yet taken up the measure.

"Not only did they pass it but it passed overwhelmingly," Assemblyman Robert Sweeney, a Democrat from Suffolk County who sponsored his chamber's version of the bill, said, as reported by Bloomberg. "That opens the way for us to do to the bill in the Assembly where I would expect it to pass with similar overwhelming numbers."

The environmental concerns center around hydraulic fracturing well stimulation and the fears of some that it has the potential to contaminate groundwater with chemicals used in the fracturing and drilling processes.

The Independent Oil & Gas Association of New York has fought the bills. "New York simply cannot afford to wait to tap this homegrown resource," the association's website says of the Marcellus Shale.

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