Let's Hear It For New York, New York...
New Yorkers should be proud of their lawmakers today.
On their first day back in session, members of the New York State Assembly voted to approve a temporary moratorium on the controversial form of gas extraction known as hydraulic fracturing or "fracking." (No word on whether Jay Z's "Empire State of Mind" was blasting in the halls of the Capitol during the late-night vote.)
This shows that leaders in New York are taking seriously the concerns associated with fracking—a technique in which millions of gallons of chemically-treated water are blasted into the earth to force gas from underground deposits.
The bill, already approved by the state Senate, now heads to outgoing Gov. David Paterson for his signature. Unfortunately, the governor has been sending mixed signals about whether or not he will sign the bill into law. If you live in New York state, now would be a good time to call Gov. Paterson at (518) 474-8390 and urge him to do the right thing before he leaves office.
The moratorium would extend until May 15, 2011. Which gives officials a little more time to ward off the oil and gas industry clamoring for access to the Marcellus Shale gas reserve beneath New York state. It's definitely a welcome respite, given the poisoned wells, flaming faucets, sick people, dying animals and earthquakes (!) that can accompany fracking.
The vote comes on the heels of vote by the City of Pittsburgh to ban fracking within the city limits, an EPA subpoena (PDF) of Halliburton's fracking chemical records, and a CSI crime drama episode in which a fracking company is suspected of murdering local environmental activists. To top it off, today the U.S. Department of the Interior signaled that it may require companies drilling for gas on public lands to disclose the chemicals they use when fracking.
If I was an oil and gas company executive, I might be getting a little nervous right about now. I might even get desperate and demand round-the-clock surveillance of Hollywood heartthrob-turned-'fracktivist,' Mark Ruffalo.
Never a dull moment. Stay tuned.