State lawmakers pass temporary 'hydrofracking' ban

      The New York Legislature has approved a temporary ban on "hydrofracking" for natural gas and agreed to establish a commission that can raise pay for the state's judges.

      The ban on hydraulic fracturing extends until May 15, 2011. It's meant to allow more time for the Department of Environmental Conservation to finish its review and new permitting guidelines for drilling in the Marcellus and Utica shale formations. The process involves pumping water down deep wells to break rock and release natural gas.

      Gov. David Paterson says the administration already delayed the process once and it won't hurt anything to sign the moratorium bill.

      He proposed the measure that lawmakers approved establishing the commission to set judicial salaries. The 1,300 state judges haven't had a raise in 12 years.