Dear Commons Community,
It was announced yesterday that Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) will ban hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, in New York. As reported in the New York Times and other media:
“The question of whether to allow fracking, which involves injecting large amounts of water, sand and chemicals deep underground at high pressures to release oil and natural gas from rock formations, has been one of the most divisive public policy debates in New York in years. Fracking is occurring in many states, and has boomed in places like Pennsylvania and Texas. Environmental advocates, alarmed by the growth of the practice, pointed to New York’s decision as the first ban by a state with significant natural-gas resources.
“I will be bound by what the experts say,” Cuomo said at a press conference.
Cuomo lamented the emotionally charged nature of the debate over fracking, a process that uses a high-pressure blast of water, sand and chemicals to tap into natural gas reserves contained in shale formations. “Let’s bring the emotion down and let’s ask the qualified experts,” said Cuomo, who quickly turned the press conference over to state health and environmental officials.
The officials said the potential health and environmental impacts are too great to allow fracking to proceed in the state at this time, and pointed to a dearth of studies regarding the long-term safety of hydraulic fracturing. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will issue a legally binding, supplemental environmental impact statement next year outlining its findings on the issue.
The potential adverse impacts of fracking are “widespread,” DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens said at the press conference. He added that the prospects for fracking in New York are “uncertain at best,” and the economic benefits are “far lower than originally forecasted.”
Governor Cuomo took a pounding during his recent re-election campaign for his inaction on fracking. While it took a while, this is a win for those of us concerned about the environment.