The New York Assembly voted today to delay a decision on legalizing fracking in the state until 2015, extending a moratorium on the drilling practice that has been in place since 2008.
Lawmakers approved the moratorium over fears that fracking may be harmful to the environment, particularly drinking water. Fracking involves sending water mixed with sand and chemicals down a deep well shaft to bring trapped oil and gas to the surface.
“We will not sit idly by and endanger the health and safety of our communities by rushing necessary health and safety reviews,” Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said in a statement before the vote, according to Reuters.
The moratorium must still be passed by the state Senate where a similar bill was introduced yesterday, before it can be signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
A group of senators, called the Independent Democratic Conference is also calling for a two-year delay until several health and environment reviews are completed, the Associated Press reported.
New York last month missed its deadline for releasing the environmental impact report on fracking that would give regulators guidelines for drilling rules. The Department of Evironmental Conservation said at the time it would hold its report until the state’s Department of Health released its own review on the public health impacts of fracking.
But fracking supporters view the whole process as a “hurry up and wait” game aimed at banning fracking.
“Families, consumers, and workers across the nation are realizing the economic, environmental, and energy security benefits of safe and responsible natural gas development,” Steve Forde, spokesman for pro-fracking group Marcellus Shale Coalition, said in a statement to The Washington Examiner at the time.
“Leaders in Albany have had a clear choice for some time now: move forward with common sense regulations that will create more jobs, higher revenues, and cleaner, more affordable energy, or prolong a hurry-up-and-wait process that places the state further on the sidelines at a time when its residents can afford it least,” he said.