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.
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 on Wednesday agreed to an outright prohibition on hydraulic fracturing, and a study by the state's environmental agency.
The measure still needs final votes in the House and Senate before going to Gov. Peter Shumlin.