Fracking Ban Under Consideration in Buffalo, NY

A bill banning hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, could soon be passed by the Buffalo, New York city council. According to, the Common Council last night reaffirmed its opposition to the natural gas drilling process in a 9-0 vote, and expressed their support of the proposed fracking ban.

If the Common Council approves the yet-to-be-finalized bill, Majority Leader Richard A. Fontana said Buffalo could help lead a nationwide fight against hydrofracking, according to

If the ban is passed, however, it is likely to be largely symbolic. While New York State sits atop the Marcellus shale, a gas-rich formation that spans from New York to Maryland, there are no known deposits in Buffalo, and no drilling is planned for the city, said. But supporters of the Buffalo fracking ban believe the action could spur other communities to follow suit. reported that the city Law Department has been working on a final version of the fracking ban that will likely be submitted for Council consideration later this month.

Fracking involves injecting water, sand, and a cocktail of chemicals at high pressure into rock formations thousands of feet below the surface to release gas deposits buried deep in shale. Thanks to a move by Congress in 2005, fracking is exempt from federal regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act – deemed by fracking opponents the “Halliburton Loophole.” As a result, drillers don’t have to disclose the chemicals that make up their fracking fluids.

In New York, fracking has been particularly controversial. The state’s natural gas-rich Marcellus shale region includes the entire Catskills watershed that provides New York City with all of its drinking water. The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has had gas drilling permit approvals on hold since 2008 while it conducts an environmental review of fracking, but that could be lifted at any time. Late last year, then-Governor David Patterson signed an Executive Order that bans high-volume, horizontal hydraulic fracturing until at least July 1, 2011.

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