Ilya Marritz covers business for WNYC.
As Legislative Session Winds Down, Fracking Bills Vie For Attention
Monday, June 13, 2011
The natural gas extraction method known as hydraulic fracturing or fracking (for a primer, click here) has become such a hotbutton issue in Albany, legislators have put forward roughly two dozen bills regulating the practice. Here are three to watch as the legislative session draws to a close.
Regulating Water Withdrawal
It takes a lot of water -- over a million gallons -- to frack a new gas well and make it productive. One bill that has already passed the Assembly would require anyone withdrawing more than 100,000 gallons from streams or rivers to get permission from the state Department of Environmental Conservation first.
Another concern is the toxic wastewater that results after a well is fracked. Under state law, it's not considered hazardous waste. But a bill now under consideration would change that, and make wastewater subject to strict transport and disposal rules.
Lastly, there's bill to impose a one year moratorium on fracking. This one is considered a long shot, and while it would be symbolically important, it might not have much practical effect. The DEC is now writing a lengthy review of fracking, and it's unlikely the agency will issue permits for fracking new Marcellus Shale wells for many months.