The New York General Assembly decided on Monday to ban hydraulic fracturing for an additional three years in the state, citing the need for more time to address potential health issues.

From EcoWatch:

“We have heard from thousands of residents across the state about many issues associated with hydrofracking, and prudent leadership demands that we take our time to address all these concerns,” said New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. “We do not need to rush into this. The natural gas deposits within the Marcellus Shale are not going to go anywhere.”

The bill the state assembly passed with a vote of 89-34 is largely symbolic, according to the Associated Press, since New York’s senate is unlikely to consider the legislation before it adjourns next week.

New York has had a moratorium in place since 2008. In 2012, the state’s health department launched a study looking at the possible health implications for tapping the Marcellus Shale in the state.

The decision of whether to lift the moratorium lies with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has allowed several self-imposed deadlines on making a decision to pass.

It’s unlikely Cuomo will make a decision until at least 2015, after he faces re-election, according to Bloomberg News.

More from EcoWatch:

“We thank the Assembly for listening to the medical experts by overwhelmingly passing a moratorium on fracking to protect New Yorkers from the devastating health and environmental impacts,” Alex Beauchamp of Food & Water Watch and New Yorkers Against Fracking said in a statement. “Now, we’re urging Gov. Cuomo and the State Senate to stand up against the out-of-state oil and gas industry, and stand up for our state’s health, environment and long-term economy by rejecting fracking.”

Some environmental groups might not agree that more time is needed to study fracking, but they are glad their voices, as well as those of medical professionals, have been heard. In May, a lengthy list of doctors and groups like the American Lung Association in New York wrote a letter to Cuomo stressing the impact fracking has on nearby states like Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Reach Natasha Khan at 412-315-0261 or at nkhan@publicsource.org.

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