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State Assembly Approval Of Two-Year Fracking Ban May Become Symbolic

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TWC News: State Assembly Approval Of Two-Year Fracking Ban May Become Symbolic
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The state Assembly passed on Wednesday a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, but the ultimate decision is resting with the Cuomo administration. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.

There are more Democrats in the state Assembly this year than at almost any other time in New York State history. So with a nod to their constituents, the lower house has been passing progressive legislation.

On Tuesday, the assembly passed an increase in the minimum wage and a two-year ban on hydraulic fracturing passed on Wednesday.

"I am skeptical that fracking can be done safely," said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

It is unlikely, though, that the vote will make much of a difference.

"It is within the purview of the [Department of Environmental Conservation] and the governor's office to decide when it is appropriate to move forward with fracking and it is not the say of the assembly," said Heather Briccetti of the Business Council of New York.

However, some think the tide is turning on fracking.

A decision that was expected last month was delayed. Governor Andrew Cuomo's former brother-in-law, environmentalist Bobby Kennedy Jr., said he convinced the governor to hold off.

Cuomo denied Kennedy has been any influence, saying on Monday, "It's not accurate that we were about to go forward and there was a discussion with him that changed my mind. That is just not accurate."

The state Senate also has legislation calling for a two-year moratorium on fracking. It is sponsored by David Carlucci, a member of the independent Democrats who share power with Republicans.

"I am confident that this legislation will move forward. This is common sense legislation," Carlucci said. "What we are doing is taking the emotion out of the issue, putting the science first."

Proponents of fracking say it will bring jobs and help the upstate economy.

Silver replied, "Let me be crystal clear. We are profoundly sympathetic to the needs of put struggling upstate economy."

The state Legislature has taken action on this issue before. A moratorium was passed by the state Assembly and state Senate in 2010, only to be vetoed by Governor David Paterson. The difference then is that Democrats were in the state Senate majority.

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