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New York State Senators have had no trouble speedily enacting bills written by gas industry lobbyists, but they’ve never taken even the smallest step to protect the public from fracking. Now we learn from Bloomberg News that Senator Tom Libous – the man who vowed to block Senate action on a moratorium bill is in business with someone who stands to profit from fracking. Libous has produced documents that he says proves that he and his wife got rid of their stake in the company that owns the leased land back in 2008, but this is contradicted by a financial disclosure form he filed in in May 2012. The senator is still partners with the firm’s owner in several other business ventures, and is reportedly being investigated by the FBI for corruption.

S04236A/A05424A would impose a two-year moratorium on high volume fracking and require the state to conduct an independent health impact assessment. In early March it was voted out of the Assembly and delivered to the Senate, but because of Libous’ obstruction, and the failure of the Senate leadership, the bill is stalled.


In a decision that could have major implications for the fate of high-volume fracking in New York, the Appellate Division, Third Department, of the State Supreme Court upheld the right of towns to prohibit fracking. The unanimous opinion by the three-judge panel affirmed two lower courts’ decisions.

Fifty-five towns have enacted fracking prohibitions in the last two years, and that number is likely to grow rapidly now that the threat of being sued is practically non-existent. You can track the astounding success of New York’s home rule movement here.


Even though fracking itself remains on hold in the state, New Yorkers are still being exposed to danger. Gas corporations continue to use the state as a dumping ground for radioactive waste produced in Pennsylvania. According to a PA Department of Environmental Protection website, five landfills in New York accepted over one hundred million pounds of drill cuttings in the second half of 2012 alone, the last period for which data is available.

Just how radioactive are these drill cuttings? One Pennsylvania landfill recently rejected a truckload of cuttings from a Marcellus site after it set off a radiation alarm. It turned out the material was emitting Radium 226 at rate 84 times higher than the EPA’s air pollution standard, and ten times higher than what the landfill is permitted to accept. Drilling waste triggered radiation alarms more than a thousand times at Pennsylvania landfills between 2009 and 2012.


While upstate has to contend with radioactive waste, Long Island is now threatened by a proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) port. For six months, Liberty LNG has been quietly advancing a plan to build a giant offshore facility not far from Jones Beach State Park, in the middle of important shipping lanes, commercial fisheries and the site of a proposed offshore wind project. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie vetoed a similar proposal in 2011 because it presented a major safety and security risks; relocating the port a few miles away in New York State waters has done nothing to make the project any safer.

Port Ambrose is described as a facility to import LNG from countries like Trinidad, but it’s hard to see how imported gas can compete with the abundant supplies of cheap domestic shale gas. The U.S. is now set to become a major gas exporter within just a few years, and there’s a real possibility that if Port Ambrose is approved, its sponsors will apply to have it relicensed as an export terminal that will ship fracked gas to foreign countries. In that event, the port would endanger New Yorkers living on the shale as well as the residents of Long Island and the metropolitan area.

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