Metzger introduces bill to codify NY’s fracking ban

State Sen. Jen Metzger announced a new bill on Tuesday that would enshrine in law the prohibition on hydraulic fracturing that Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his administration imposed by regulation in 2014 without going through what was then a politically divided Legislature.

Metzger, a Rosendale Democrat, chose the five-year anniversary of Cuomo’s fracking ban to herald her bill, which also would outlaw a newer form of fuel extraction known as gelled propane fracking. She added star power to her announcement by enlisting actor Mark Ruffalo and singer Natalie Merchant, both of whom are environmental activists, to join her and other supporters in a conference call with reporters.

“The science on the dangers of high-volume hydraulic fracturing is really clear and non-controversial at this point,” Metzger said in a statement afterward. “More than 1,700 studies — triple the number in 2014 — show that Horizontal Drilling and HVHF pose significant and unacceptable risks to New York’s drinking water, environment, air quality, climate, and public health.”

Roger Downs, conservation director for the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter, argued the bill would protect New York’s fracking ban from the shifting sands of politics as the state moves toward the goal of having no net carbon emissions by 2050.

“While the ban has withstood court challenges and regulatory end-arounds, it is hard to ignore the ephemeral nature of Albany politics and the powerful interests still keen on reversing this historic prohibition,” Downs said.

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