Gas-rich Marcellus Shale formation cuts across the state's Southern Tier and Catskills region
ALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to make New York's ban on hydraulic fracturing harder to overturn.
Cuomo, a Democrat, pledged support this week for making the state's fracking ban "permanent," meaning it would be set in law and require the Legislature to overturn it.
As it stands, the state's ban is held in place by the Department of Environmental Conservation, which oversees gas drilling in New York and is run by a Cuomo appointee. It could easily be overturned by a future governor without lawmakers' approval.
Cuomo unveiled his support for a more forceful ban during his annual state budget address near the state Capitol, including it with a handful of other environment-focused proposals.
"Let's also in this budget ban single-use styrofoam, let's expand e-bikes and e-scooters, and let's make the fracking ban permanent once and for all," Cuomo said.
Fracking involves the use of large quantities of chemical-laced water to help free natural gas from underground shale formations.
The Cuomo administration prohibited large-scale fracking in December 2014.
The decision came after more than six years of review, during which time anti-fracking activists and pro-fracking landowners clashed about whether the economic and energy benefits outweighed the risk of potential environmental damage.
The gas-rich Marcellus Shale formation cuts across the state's Southern Tier and Catskills region. Just over the border, the gas industry has tapped into the Marcellus in Pennsylvania for more than a decade.
Cuomo's proposed permanent ban is likely to gain support among many Democratic lawmakers, who control both houses of the Legislature.
It would apply to fracking operations that utilize at least 300,000 gallons of water.
Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay, R-Pulaski, Oswego County, said he is "totally against" the ban in any form.
"New York has missed out completely on the revolution that we've had with fracking," Barclay said. "This is good, clean energy, frankly. It's natural gas."
The proposal picked up support from a variety of environmental and anti-fracking advocates, including actor Mark Ruffalo, a Sullivan County resident who actively pushed for the ban leading up to 2014.
"By listening to the science, (Cuomo) is on the right side of history in working to ensure that New York's fracking ban becomes the law of the land," Ruffalo said in a statement.