Says passage of bill will not be easy
State Sen. Greg Ball last week advocated a one-year moratorium on “fracking” in New York to allow the state to catch up with necessary funding and means of regulating the industry and its practices. An oft-controversial practice, fracking – hydraulic fracturing—involves use of injected chemicals and water to break up underground rock formations and extract natural gas.
During a public forum in Lewisboro on Dec. 21, Ball proposed state legislation to put the moratorium in place, though he acknowledged getting a bill passed would not be easy. He commented after a trip to Pennsylvania fracking areas, where, he said, communities have suffered from contaminated water, fish kills, livestock deaths, drastically decreased property values, and destruction of once-pristine natural resources.
The Republican senator predicted that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, will not allocate funding in the executive portion of the state budget next year to control fracking. “Without the funding to properly regulate and without the manpower to properly oversee this industry, we must put the brakes on fracking,” Ball said. “A moratorium is necessary so we can get the proper resources and regulations in place.”
Ball said that a Democratic colleague, Robert Sweeney, of Lindenhurst, is committed to sponsoring the legislation in the State Assembly, the lower chamber of the New York State Legislature. As part of his overall fracking-related effort, Ball has drafted what he terms the “Property Owner’s Bill of Rights,” to set standards for fracking companies. Its provisions include:
- Full disclosure of all chemicals used and all compounds created from the fracking process.
- Notification of the state authorities of what chemicals were injected during fracking, the source of water used, how much water was used, and whether any radioactive components resulted from the process.
- Reimbursement for property owners of 150 percent of the market value of property based on estimates prior to drilling and 100 percent of the cost for full remediation of soil and water if contamination ensues from fracking.
- Free medical monitoring for life for property owners.
- Appraisal of an owner’s property by three independent experts, paid by the fracking company, prior to finalization of lease agreements.
- Use of an environmental impact assessment process similar to New York’s SEQR [State Environmental Quality Review] to gauge potential dangers.
According to Ball’s office, the senator leads a bipartisan coalition of legislators concerned about fracking in New York.