This has got to be the best political news I've read in a long time. A little before 1:00 a.m. last night, by a vote of 94-44, the New York State Assembly passed the moratorium on hydraulic fracture drilling.
Well it may only be state legislature and the governor still need to sign but apparently this moratorium to protect our drinking water is a first. It's not top down and the Working Families Party humbly takes some of the credit for more than 52,000 New Yorkers signing the petition urging the Assembly to act.
Go ahead: get up from your chair. Do a little dance, pump your fist, or do whatever you do to celebrate a victory of grassroots action over corporate power.
I just received a letter form the WFP and I was doing just that.
Seeing how the moratorium is temporary, and only lasting six months the news could be better.
The moratorium -- which calls for no drilling permits to be issued until at least May 15, 2011 -- was approved by the state Senate in August.
The legislation now heads to Governor David Paterson, who leaves office in January and has until the end of this year to sign the measure into law.
In an interview last week on a local radio program, Paterson indicated support for the bill, saying the state would not "risk public safety or water quality."
High-volume hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, involves blasting millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals into deep shale rock to free the gas trapped inside.
But it gets better. Thank you David Paterson.
The environmental risks aren't worth the economic boon, said outgoing Gov. David Paterson, who is expected the vote the measure into law.
"Even with the tremendous revenues that will come in at this time "» we're not going to risk public safety or water quality, which will be the next emerging global problem after the energy shortage," he told WAMC-FM radio last week.
"It's an astounding acknowledgement by a sitting governor that this isn't safe," said Ramsay Adams, executive director of Catskill Mountainkeeper, whose supporters were in Albany on Monday lobbying for the bill.
A spokesman for the drilling industry called Paterson's statement "a little bit troubling."
"This is the first time any state has ever taken this kind of action to protect the health and safety of its residents from the consequences of gas drilling," said Kate Sinding, deputy director of the New York Urban Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council. "It sends a powerful message that New Yorkers don’t want new fracking here unless the industry proves it can be done safely."
Doesn't protecting the health and safety of state residents over business interest sound so good. Isn't it great to hear about a grassroots victory. The Working Families Party did not take all the credit and called this action "an incredible alliance of Frack Action, Environmental Advocates, MoveOn.org, Mark Ruffalo, Pete Seeger, Assemblymembers Robert Sweeney and Steve Englebright, Borough President Scott Stringer, and so many others to pass a bill that everyone thought was dead - first through the New York State Senate, then the Assembly."
For more news on how this progress came about you can read these links;
New York Observer: WFP Teams Up With Mark Ruffalo For Last-Minute Fracking Ban Push
"The Working Families Party is out with a last-minute push to pressure the Assembly to ban hydro-fracking during the special session, slated to get underway shortly in Albany. ...the WFP, Move-On and others have gathered 50,000 signatures calling on the lower house to follow suit."
Albany Times-Union: Hydrofracking Moratorium Supporters Hopeful on Assembly Prospects
"MoveOn and the Working Families Party are touting a 50,000-signature petition supporting the moratorium... If it comes to the floor, advocates are confident it will pass."
Ithaca Journal: Assembly Approves Gas Drilling Moratorium
"Actor Mark Ruffalo, a Sullivan County resident and an anti-drilling advocate, also released a statement through the Working Families Party, pushing for the Assembly to pass the bill and urging New Yorkers to sign a petition in favor of the moratorium."
But I think it is time to celebrate and the best way to celebrate this inspiration is to go to Chris Bowers' front page diary and follow the instructions on Calling Congress to protect Social Security.
Who knows? It could be back to back victories for the people.