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Assembly Votes to Halt Hydrofracking Near City's Upstate Water Supply

By DNAinfo Staff on November 30, 2010 12:41pm  | Updated on November 30, 2010 1:56pm

The Cannonsville Reservoir in Delaware County supplies the majority of the drinking water for New York City.
The Cannonsville Reservoir in Delaware County supplies the majority of the drinking water for New York City.
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Kathy Klopchin

By Mariel S. Clark

DNAinfo News Editor

MANHATTAN — The state Assembly voted Monday night to put a six-month hold on hydraulic fracturing or hydrofracking — a controversial process to drill for natural gas, which many believe could contaminate the city's water supply.

The Senate approved the bill in August. If the governor signs it into law it would halt hydrofracking in New York until May 15, 2011.

"I will not let anything stand in the way of making sure all New Yorkers have clean, safe water," Assemblyman Sheldon Silver, who voted for the bill, said in a statement.

Hydrofracking is a process that involves pumping water and chemicals into the bedrock to release natural gas and oil. The state had proposed using hydrofracking to mine New York's section of the Marcellus Shall, where the city gets its drinking water.

"When it comes to keeping pollution and dangerous chemicals out of our water, there is simply no acceptable level of risk," Silver said.

The bill is meant to give the Environmental Protection Agency time to conduct a safety study on hydrofracking and it's effects on the environment and watershed.

"The moratorium will allow time for such analysis to be commenced, analysis that we are confident will affirm absolutely our contention that hydraulic fracturing should never be done within New York City’s upstate unfiltered water supply watershed," City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Environmental Committee Chair James Gennaro said in a joint statement.

Many officials, including Manhattan borough President Scott Stringer, have voiced their opposition to the process because they believe it could poison New York's water.

But the Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York condemned the bill's passage saying it could halt all hydraulic fracturing, not just the operations proposed in the Marcellus Shale, and cost 5,000 workers their jobs, according to a statement.

"This bill is a job killer, an upstate business killer and potentially an industry killer," said Brad Gill, executive director of the IOGA, which has urged Gov. David Paterson not to sign the bill into law, in the statement.

"I remind the governor that hydraulic fracturing has been used successfully and safely on water, gas and oil wells for 60 years in New York, and that drinking water has not been adversely affected," he said.