BINGHAMTON -- Mayor Matthew T. Ryan joined some 60 protestors in front of Binghamton City Hall on Monday to sound off in support of a temporary legislative ban on hydraulic fracturing.
A bill is before the state Senate that would ban the well-stimulation technique -- in which a mixture of water, sand and chemicals is injected deep underground to unlock natural gas from shale formations -- until June 1, 2012.
"The more we learn about this process, the more it scares the hell out of us," Ryan said. "The Senate should vote for a moratorium and Senator (Thomas W.) Libous (R-Binghamton) should vote for a moratorium because we just do not know enough about this process."
The mayor was joined at the half-hour rally by protestors from New York Residents Against Drilling and other groups, who bore anti-drilling signs and shouted "ban drilling now" across the Binghamton State Office Building complex.
"We've got to learn as much as we can so we have the right information, and talk about this sensibly," Ryan said. "There's so many different issues that we need to clarify, that we need to get right."
The moratorium bill -- which applies to both horizontal wells and vertical wells -- passed overwhelmingly in the state Assembly last week and is now being considered by the Republican-controlled state Senate.
A similar bill that passed last year was vetoed by then-Gov. David Paterson.
If the bill passes, it will overlap with the de facto moratorium on horizontal, high-volume, hydraulic fracturing that has been in place since 2008, when the state Department of Environmental Conservation began its review of their permitting guidelines.
In a directive last month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo asked the state Department of Environmental Conservation to complete this review by July 1. After that, there will be another public comment period before the final draft of the regulations drafted and released.
Libous, who was in Albany on Monday, said in a written statement that he wants to wait for the DEC to complete its study and does not support the legislative moratorium.
"I appreciate my constituents expressing their opinions on this proposed legislation," he said. "However, before another moratorium, I believe we should wait to see what the scientists at the DEC have to say on July 1. I trust the DEC scientists more than I trust the politicians in the state Legislature."