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Report: Hydrofracking ban could be lifted in parts of NYS

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Albany/HV: Report: Hydrofracking ban could be lifted in parts of NYS
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Opponents of hydrofracking renewed their concerns after reports the current ban on the controversial natural gas drilling method could be lifted in parts of the state. Our Zack Fink has more on their reaction.

NEW YORK STATE -- Supporters of hydrofracking say it's an efficient way to meet growing energy demands. But critics say the extraction of natural gas poses environmental hurdles that have not been adequately addressed.

Pennsylvania has already moved ahead with hydrofracking, but with mixed results.

"We know from Pennsylvania what the potential impact will be. If we ever allow it, we have to determine that it will be safe. And we have not determined yet that it can be done safely," said Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell.

The Cuomo administration is reportedly considering allowing fracking in certain New York counties that border Pennsylvania. They are areas where the economic recovery has been especially slow and the hope is that hydrofracking will bring jobs.

"As a supporter of environmentally safe drilling, one of the things I have said continuously is that maybe we start out in those communities that are open to it," said State Senator Tom Libous.

But democrats in the State Senate are largely opposed. With some going so far as to say hydrofracking cannot be safely regulated.

"We don't ever believe that there could ever be enough strong regulations to prevent those few accidents where the water supply of New York State is contaminated," said State Senator Tony Avella.

Protections have already been spelled out for New York City’s upstate watershed. But some believe the risks still exist.

"Well I think we want a larger border around New York City’s watershed. But the fact is that New York City residents are concerned not just about New York City water, they are concerned about the environmental impacts around the state," Assemblyman Linda Rosenthal said.

In a statement, Cuomo spokesman Josh Vlasto said, "No final decision has been made and no decision will be made until the scientific review is complete and we have all the facts."

The Cuomo administration doesn't actually need the legislature to change regulations on fracking. Some legislators believe that if any action is taken, it will be done this summer when they are no longer up here.

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