Decision on hydro-fracking could come soon

NORWICH – The fate of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas deposits in New York’s Marcellus and Utica shales has been in the hands of the state’s legislature this week and a decision could come as early as today.

A bill, proposed by Sen. Antoine Thompson, D-Buffalo, would place an immediate, one-year moratorium on new natural gas drilling permits until at least June 1, 2011.

The legislation follows an accident at a natural gas well in Pennsylvania on June 3 where unexpectedly high pressure spewed natural gas and drilling fluids out of control. Yesterday, a regulatory board in Pennsylvania approved stricter regulations on drilling in order to safeguard rivers and household water from polluted wastewater. Environmental officials say too much of the pollutants can kill fish and leave a salty taste in drinking water drawn from rivers.

New York’s bill, one of several similar bills addressing the controversial drilling method, was unexpectedly passed by the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee after 5 p.m. on Monday.

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