The current legislative session is wrapping up in Albany this week, and the fate of four anti-hydraulic-fracturing bills is up in the air.
Three bills, including a year-long moratorium on fracking, may quietly die as higher-profile legislation, including a much-discussed bill to legalize gay marriage and a last-minute effort to change taxi cab rules, take center stage. But a fourth bill, which would make it harder for companies to withdraw water from streams and lakes to use in fracturing, may make it into law.
Two weeks ago, prospects looked pretty good for a bill that would extend the moratorium of hydraulic fracturing for another year. But yesterday, the Times Herald-Record reported that support for that bill in the state Senate is nonexistent:
This year, the bill — already approved by the Assembly — has little chance of ultimate passage in the Senate, say Albany insiders. For the moratorium — vehemently opposed by pro-drillers — to have any chance, it must move out of the Senate's Environmental Conservation Committee so it can be voted on. But the committee chairman, Sen. Mark Grisanti, R-Buffalo, "won't get behind it," says committee director Joe Erdman. Neither will senators who voted for last year's moratorium, like John Bonacic, R-Mount Hope.
Two other anti-fracking bills are looking DOA. One bill, which passed the State Assembly last week, would classify hydraulic fracturing drilling waste as "hazardous waste." Another would strengthen home rule rights of communities to ban fracking within their borders.
The outlook both those bills only isn't very rosy, the THR reports:
Both have only "a thin chance" of passage, says one anti-drilling insider.
But there is one anti-fracking bill that has already passed both chambers of the legislature and is poised to become law, according to the Ithaca Journal. That's a a bill that would require organizations that want to withdraw large amounts of water from streams and rivers to get a permit from the state Department of Environmental Conservation:
The state Senate unanimously passed a bill late Thursday that gives the state permission to build a permitting system for large withdrawals from many of the state's lakes, rivers and streams. The legislation will require anyone with the capacity to withdraw at least 100,000 gallons from the state's waterways to get a permit from the Department of Environmental Conservation first.
That bill would put another hurdle in front of companies that want to withdraw water from local streams for hydraulic fracturing. XTO Energy's request to withdraw water from a Broome County trout stream to use for fracking has drawn outrage this spring.