The New York State Assembly [official website] on Wednesday approved a bill [text] imposing an over two-year ban on fracking [JURIST backgrounder], or hydraulic fracturing, in the state. The measure was passed [AP report] by a margin of 95 to 40 and would postpone any potential fracking until May 15, 2015, by which time a "comprehensive health impact assessment" can be conducted to identify potential public health impacts that may result from the process. The ban represents a continuation of a previous ban on fracking that has been in place in the state since 2008. State Assembly Speaker and co-sponsor of the bill, Sheldon Silver, laid out his case for the moratorium when he announced the legislation [official statement], reasoning that "the health and well-being of the people must always take precedence over industry profits" and that "the natural gas locked within the Marcellus Shale and the Utica Shale isn't going anywhere."
Fracking has been a contentious issue in the US recently. Earlier this month JURIST guest columnist Nicolas Parke debunked the rumors [JURIST op-ed] around fracking. In February JURIST guest columnist Samantha Peaslee detailed the future of fracking [JURIST op-ed] in Colorado in the wake of recent lawsuits against fracking companies in the state. In September Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection and Public Utility Commission filed a brief arguing that a recent Pennsylvania court decision which struck down portions of a law allowing the state to determine where fracking could occur was an error [JURIST report]. In July North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue vetoed a bill [SB 820 materials; JURIST report] that would have lifted the state's ban on fracking. Last May Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin signed into law [JURIST report] a bill outlawing fracking in the state. Last January the New Jersey Legislature passed an amendment to a bill that establishes a one-year ban on fracking [JURIST report]. Legislators re-introduced the bill last year after New Jersey Governor Chris Christie conditionally vetoed legislation in June 2011 that would have permanently banned fracking in New Jersey [JURIST report]. In October 2011 the Environmental Protection Agency announced plans to develop standards [JURIST report] for wastewater discharge from fracking. June 2011 New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sued the US government [JURIST report] for its alleged failure to study the risks of fracking.