New York fracking bill reignites carbon utilization debate

By Allison Prang | 06/18/2024 06:10 AM EDT

State lawmakers have passed legislation aimed at blocking a plan to use captured carbon dioxide to extract natural gas from shale formations.

Kathy Hochul speaks at a lectern.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) will have a chance to decide whether to expand the state’s fracking ban to bar use of liquefied carbon dioxide. Susan Watts/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul

Legislation awaiting action from Democratic New York Gov. Kathy Hochul that aims to block a plan for using captured carbon dioxide to extract natural gas from underground shale formations is reviving questions around what to do with the pollutant after it’s trapped.

State lawmakers backed by environmental activists pushed the bill to expand an existing ban on hydraulic fracking after a company called Southern Tier Solutions proposed using liquefied carbon dioxide in place of substances explicitly prohibited in the 2020 law. The company’s president, Bryce Phillips, touted his plan as a rational approach that could benefit both the energy industry and the environment.

“Our plan was to use carbon dioxide as a drilling fluid, replacing water, and as a result of the process the carbon dioxide would become sequestered,” Phillips said in an email in which he indicated that he believes the governor will sign the bill. “The governing bodies decided that it was much easier to ban the process rather than to engage in any technical meetings or informational exchange.”


Carbon capture and sequestration is viewed as a potentially valuable tool in efforts to fight global warming. But there is conflict in the carbon management industry and among advocacy groups over whether the captured gas should be stored or used in some fashion, particularly when it comes to the prospect of producing more fossil fuels.