The move by the Democratically-controlled chamber is meant to add political pressure on Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has yet to determine whether the deep drilling method should occur in New York.
The bill passed Wednesday has no companion legislation in the New York State Senate, though the Independent Democratic Conference on Tuesday came out with a similar proposal to ban hydrofracking until a key health review is finished.
The Assembly bill would suspend hydrofracking through May 15, 2015. The point is moot, for now, because the state is not issuing permits for hydraulic fracturing, a method that uses water and chemical to break shale thousands of feet below the surface to extract natural gas.
The Assemby's bill also would add another round of public health reviews and public comment periods to the five-year-long debate.
Assemblyman Sam Roberts, D-Syracuse, was a co-sponsor on the bill.
“Here in Syracuse, we have seen what environmentally irresponsible decisions can do to a body of water,” Roberts said in a statement after the vote, mentioning the decades-long pollution of Onondaga Lake. "A two-year ban will give the scientific community the time it needs to further study the impacts of hydrofracking so that we can better understand its potential health impact on our families and environment.”
Supporters of the drilling said today's vote was another delay in creating jobs and spurring a sluggish Upstate economy.
“The Assembly’s latest moratorium bill is yet another effort to prevent safe, responsible natural gas development across Upstate New York," Brian Sampson, the director of Unshackle Upstate, said in a statement. "With the state’s unemployment rate at near-record levels, it’s shameful that any elected official would advance legislation that would harm jobs."
Last month, the state's health commissioner, Dr. Nirav Shah, said he needs more time to assess the potential health effects of hydrofracking.
In addition to Roberts, other Central New York lawmakers voting for the bill were: Bill Magee, D-Nelson; Bill Magnarelli, D-Syracuse; and Al Stirpe, D-Cicero.
Those voting against the bill were: Will Barclay, R-Pulaski; Ken Blankenbush, R-Black River; Gary Finch, R-Springport; and Bob Oaks, R-Macedon.
Original article on Syracuse.com