The Butternuts Town Board passed a nine-month moratorium on natural gas drilling and other extraction activities, the supervisor said Monday.
The moratorium passed, 3 to 2, after a public hearing Monday night, Supervisor Charles Eckelmann said.
Eckelmann said he and council members Michele Farwell and Heather Covington voted for the moratorium, and member Don Hunt and Marlene Brooks voted against it.
The measure is for a moratorium within the town on natural gas and petroleum exploration and extraction activities, underground storage of natural gas and disposal of natural gas or petroleum extraction, exploration and production wastes.
Ecklemann said the moratorium will allow time for council members and the Butternut Town Comprehensive Plan Committee to continue reviewing issues and concerns about drilling for natural gas and its potential impacts. Comments at the public hearing Monday night were mixed over natural gas drilling and the moratorium, he said.
In other states, natural gas production has boomed in recent years as drillers use new techniques to gain access to wells that were hard to reach.
Hydraulic fracturing, also called fracking, involves blasting mixtures of water, sand and chemicals deep underground to stimulate the release of oil or natural gas.
Towns across the state have been wrestling over issues and impacts of fracking, with residents divided on environmental, health and economic factors.
New York hasn't allowed new shale gas drilling using fracking since the state Department of Environmental Conservation began reviewing it in 2008. A coalition of opposition groups is pressing to ban it, saying that fracking would threaten water supplies.
In Butternuts, the proposed moratorium was sent to Otsego County for review, Eckelmann said, and the county advised a modification in references to pipelines. The approved moratorium recommended included the modification, he said.
Eckelmann said paperwork on the moratorium is being prepared and will be reviewed by the town attorney before being forwarded to the state.