New York state officials have chosen to ban fracking also known as hydraulic fracturing after a two-year period of review where numerous ‘red flags’ were raised concerning public health. The decision was made recently  at a cabinet meeting in Albany.

No fracking in New York

Protesters in New York rallied against fracking. Image: worlding.org

Protesters in New York rallied against fracking. Image: worlding.org

For the past five years, the state had fracking under  moratorium, while 120 towns had already banned the controversial practice that involves drilling and injecting a high pressure mixture of water and chemicals, some radioactive, other of unknown toxicity. While there’s yet to be a paper that directly links under a causal relationship fracking with water or residential air poisoning, accounts tend to suggest this is the case. Fracking is also likely to cause micro earthquakes.

“The takeaway that I get from the data is that there are serious questions about public health,” the governor, Andrew Cuomo, said.

At the conference announcing the decision, Cuomo lamented the emotional charged nature of the debate surrounding fracking. The governor tried to the address the issue by leaving this sort of decision to the experts, which to me sounds right about what any politician should do in situations like these. ”

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 New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will issue a legally binding, supplemental environmental impact statement next year outlining its findings on the issue. Today’s decision was based on a series of studies ran over the past two years which assessed the long-term safety of hydraulic fracturing.

In effect, the decision is the biggest obstacle to date to an industry that has had rapid growth across a number of other states. In 2012, Vermont became the first US state to ban fracking, which wasn’t that much of a big deal considering there were no exploration or exploitation wells in operation at the time. New York state is a whole different matter, since it holds one of the last great areas of untapped potential in the Marcellus Shale.

“I cannot support high-volume hydraulic fracturing in the great state of New York,” Howard Zucker, the health commissioner, said. “There are many red flags.”

When asked why other states aren’t banning fracking or aren’t the taking the same investigative measures, Zucker said it’s because  “many of those states didn’t bring their health teams to the table.” To which the governor agreed.

 “I think it’s our responsibility to develop an alternative … for safe, clean economic development,” the governor said.

In fact, Cumo just became my favorite governor ever. Not because he’s banned fracking, but the way he decided to handle this extremely delicate issue – letting the experts settle the issue and not allowing himself bullied by either public opinion or the oil industry. When asked a question about fracking in October, the governor quickly dodged it. “I am not a scientist,” he said. “Let the scientists decide.”

Fracking is also banned in France and Germany.

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