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Governor Cuomo Announces Statewide New York Fracking Ban

Yesterday (Wednesday, December 17, 2014), at a year-end cabinet meeting in Albany called by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, New York’s acting commissioner of health stated that he could not support high-volume New York fracking (technically, hydraulic fracturing) because the health issues of the practice outweigh the benefits.

Fracking across the US (Earthjustice)[If there is anyone out there who’s unaware of how fracking works: oil and gas companies use fracking to splinter underground shale rock and release natural gas and oil. The drillers force huge amounts of water, sand, and chemicals through an “injection” well reaching below the surface. Usually, after harvesting the petroleum resources, they reinject large volumes of contaminated wastewater back into the ground. The map below shows existing and potential fracking sites and accident areas across the United States. Note the clusters in New York.]

New York’s Health Commissioner Howard Zucker stated:

As the acting health commissioner, I consider the people of the state of New York as my patients. We cannot afford to make a mistake. The potential risks are too great. In fact, they are not fully known.

Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens announced that the state would officially move early next year from the de facto fracking moratorium it has had since 2008 to a legal and binding absolute prohibition of New York fracking.

Many towns and cities across New York independently passed moratoriums and/or bans on fracking before state officials announced today’s ban. The city of Dryden won its fracking case in June as New York’s highest court ruled it legal for towns to use zoning ordinances to ban the practice. Today’s move will restrict mining of the vast Marcellus Shale to approved sites in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Vermont outlawed fracking in 2012. It’s also illegal in Hawaii. In the recent November elections, grassroots movements in Denton, Texas (by a decisive 59% to 41% margin), Ohio, and two counties in California enacted fracking bans. Los Angeles, Dallas, three Colorado cities, Mora County (New Mexico), Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia have also forbidden or severely limited the practice. Similar movements are under way in other jurisdictions nationwide. Also, this fall Pennsylvania ousted incumbent Governor Tom Corbett, a heavy fracking promoter.

France, Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland, Luxembourg, Bulgaria, Romania, the Czech Republic, Tunisia, and areas of Spain and Switzerland have moratoria or full bans against fracking in place, and the petroleum company practice has caused controversies worldwide.

CleanTechnica has investigated fracking extensively (see here), with four reporters covering about a dozen stories during the past six months. Stay tuned for more.

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covers environmental, health, renewable and conventional energy, and climate change news. She's currently on the climate beat for Important Media, having attended last year's COP20 in Lima Peru. Sandy has also worked for groundbreaking environmental consultants and a Fortune 100 health care firm. She writes for several weblogs and attributes her modest success to an "indelible habit of poking around to satisfy my own curiosity."


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