Safety Or Politics? What’s Behind NY’s Fracking Ban?

Last year, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York said he would make a decision on the state’s high volume fracking activity and its potential ban, dependent on an extensive environmental examination. That final environmental review on fracking has now been released and many are asking what’s in store for New York and the hydraulic fracturing industry’s future in the state.


Image Source: National Geographic

Formal Decision On State Fracking
Launched in 2008, the environmental review has consisted of “an extensive examination of high-volume hydraulic fracturing and its potential adverse impacts on critical resources such as drinking water, community character and wildlife habitat.” The resulting report, which is near 2,000 pages in its final draft, is expected lead Gov. Cuomo to a formal decision in favor of a high-volume fracking ban. The governor said he would rely on the recommendation of his health and environmental conservation commissioners, but will their judgment, and the ban to result, be in the best interest of New York? As expected, it depends on whom you ask.

Image Source: Penn State

Industrial Vs. Environmental Concerns
There are plenty of environmental concerns to consider in allowing high volume fracking. Parts of New York State, along with Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and other eastern states overlie the Marcellus Shale formation. This organic formation contains a rich reserve of natural gas. Landowners in the southwestern portion of New York could potentially profit from fracking activity, as many in Pennsylvania and other nearby states have. However, scientific sources have cited earthquakes, air pollution, water contamination, and other potential hazards as risks that come with shale drilling. Energy industry officials contest that fracking has been used safely for many years.

Less About Science Than Politics?
While those concerned with the environmental impact of fracking are pleased with the results of the review, others think that Gov. Cuomo’s decision to ban high volume fracking is less about science and safety than it is about politics. President of the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York, Dan Fitzsimmons said “[…]No matter what side of this debate you are on, everyone knows Cuomo’s decision was solely based on his political future.”

The First State With More To Follow?
Political motivations or not aside, the ban is significant as New York may soon be the only energy-rich state to fully ban high-volume fracking. While some local jurisdictions have prohibited fracking, most motions to do so in other parts of the country have not gotten nearly as far as they have in New York. While the state ban could potentially be reversed by a future governor, perhaps other state’s will soon follow NY’s example?

What are your thoughts on this news? Do you think it’s a politically motivated action? Is the ban a smart environmental decision or an unnecessary setback for the energy industry in the state? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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James Spader

Comes from a long line of American manufacturers and small business owners. His passions have always been journalism and World War II history. When not working, he enjoys cooking and competing in amateur chess tournaments.

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