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New York State Bans Fracking

Dec. 18, 2014 (EIRNS)—The State of New York yesterday announced a ban on extraction of natural gas by hydraulic fracturing ("fracking"), citing concerns over health risks. Environmental advocates pointed out that this is the first ban of fracking by a state with abundant natural gas resources; they are associated with the Marcellus Shale formation. The matter has been controversial in the state for some years, with some local towns passing zoning ordinances against fracking, citing various reasons, including noise, traffic congestion, and pollution. In June, the state’s highest court ruled that the towns had the legal power to pass such ordinances.

Nominally, the other, "pro" side of the argument on fracking, is that it would generate jobs and other income, for localities needing new business in their area. Governor Andrew Cuomo was reported to have said, "I’ve never had anyone say to me, ’I believe fracking is great.’ Not a single person in those communities. What I get is, ’I have no alternative but fracking.’"

The ban was announced at a meeting of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s cabinet, when a study by state health officials was made public. Today’s New York Times reported,

"In a presentation at the cabinet meeting, the acting state health commissioner, D. Howard A. Zucker, said the examination had found ’significant public health risks’ associated with fracking."

Zucker listed concerns about water contamination and air pollution, "and said there was insufficient scientific evidence to affirm the safety of fracking." Syracuse.com reported that the state environmental commissioner said he will ban fracking in New York, and the Department of Environmental Conservation which he heads will release its own five-year study of fracking next year.