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New York State Assembly passes CO2 drilling & fracking ban bill

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  • Staff Report 

The New York State Assembly overwhelmingly passed a bill Tuesday to ban the drilling and fracking of natural gas and oil using carbon dioxide (CO2), a move hailed by environmental advocates who urged the Senate to swiftly follow suit.

The legislation, sponsored by Assemblymember Anna Kelles, was approved by a vote of 97-50. The bill (A8866/S8357) aims to prohibit the use of CO2 for gas and oil extraction, closing a potential loophole in the state’s existing ban on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which currently prohibits the use of water for extraction.

The push for the ban gained momentum in response to reports of the fossil fuel industry’s exploration of an experimental method of shale gas extraction. Since late 2023, a company called “Southern Tier CO2 to Clean Energy Solutions” has been soliciting leases from thousands of landowners in the Southern Tier region for gas extraction by injecting CO2 into the Marcellus Shale formation.

Assemblymember Kelles, a vocal advocate for the bill, emphasized the risks associated with CO2 fracking, stating, “No matter what substance is used to frack for gas and oil, it is still fracking. It will still have severe negative health and environmental consequences.”

Environmental groups lauded the Assembly’s passage of the bill and called on the Senate to follow suit. Julia Walsh, Director of Frack Action, commended Kelles for her leadership and urged swift action from the Senate and Governor Hochul to sign the bill into law.

Critics of CO2 fracking, including actor and environmental advocate Mark Ruffalo, warned of the potential dangers posed by the extraction method. Ruffalo praised the Assembly’s decision as a step toward protecting the state from environmental harm.

The bill’s proponents argue that CO2 fracking poses significant risks to public health, the environment, and the state’s climate goals. They contend that the proposed method could contaminate drinking water sources, increase methane emissions, and contribute to air pollution.

The Senate is expected to consider the bill in the coming weeks, with advocates urging lawmakers to prioritize its passage to safeguard New York’s environmental future.

In addition to legislative efforts, environmental organizations have called attention to the potential violations of New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) posed by CO2 fracking. They argue that such practices contradict the state’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning to renewable energy sources.