Lawmakers Advance Ban On Hydraulic Fracturing

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A legislative conference committee has agreed to make Vermont the first state to ban a hotly debated method for drilling natural gas.

Geologists say there appears to be little if any natural gas under Vermont, but lawmakers have been pushing to get a handle on a technique called hydraulic fracturing anyway.

The Senate passed a ban on the practice, in which water and chemicals are injected into the ground at high pressure to split layers of rock apart and release gas. The House voted for a three-year moratorium.

But now conferees from the two bodies have agreed to an outright prohibition on so-called "fracking." They’ve also agreed to a study by the state’s environmental agency.

The measure still needs final votes in the House and Senate before going to Governor Peter Shumlin.

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