New York State Moves to Ban Fracking

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the state’s moratorium on the drilling practice will remain in place.

Weld County, Colo., is one of the most drilled counties in the country, with almost 20,000 wells. Ninety percent of new wells in the state are fracked.
National Journal
Clare Foran
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Clare Foran
Dec. 17, 2014, 7:49 a.m.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Wednesday that the state will not lift its ban on fracking.

The long-awaited decision marks a decisive turn in the years-long battle over fracking in New York State. Energy companies are eager to unlock potentially vast reserves of natural gas in rock underlying the state in the Marcellus Shale. But environmentalists have put strong pressure on the Democratic governor to keep fracking out of the state. 

The Democratic governor’s decision followed the release of a highly-anticipated health and environmental study on the impacts of fracking. The study, conducted by the Cuomo administration, concluded that while data is limited and risks surrounding fracking are not fully known, the potential adverse impacts appear significant enough for the Health Department to recommend that fracking should not be allowed.

“There are many negative health effects [of fracking],” New York State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said, while also acknowledging that uncertainty remains: “We don’t have definitive evidence to prove or disprove the health effects.”

But Zucker said that, based on the science, he wouldn’t want his own children living near a fracking site, a fact Cuomo said resonated with him. “If you don’t believe your children should live there, I agree “¦ no child should live there,” the governor said.

New York State has had a de facto ban on the controversial drilling practice, which involves high-pressure injections of water and chemicals into shale rock formations to unleash natural gas, dating back to 2008.

Neighboring states such as Pennsylvania and Ohio have reaped millions of dollars by drilling into Marcellus, the largest shale rock formation in the U.S., prompting business groups and the energy industry to argue that New York has lost out on jobs and investment.

But Joseph Martens, New York state’s Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner, threw cold water on optimistic assessments of fracking’s economic potential. “The economic benefits are clearly far lower than originally forecast,” Martens said.

Environmentalists and energy companies alike have pushed the state to weigh in on whether the moratorium should be lifted, but Gov. Cuomo has delayed a decision on the hot-button issue pending the release of the health and environmental review.

Environmental groups such as 350.org adamantly oppose fracking in the state, saying that it will wreak environmental havoc and pose a threat to public health. New York State’s fracking ban has become a flash point in a larger debate over the potential dangers of natural-gas drilling across the U.S.

Green groups cheered the decision Wednesday. “New Yorkers have made it loud and clear that we want to keep this reckless industry at bay. With this announcement, the governor has listened—and he has demonstrated both courage and national leadership on this critical issue,” said Kate Sinding, the deputy director for Natural Resources Defense Council’s New York program. 

The oil and gas industry, meanwhile, criticized the announcement. “Today’s action by Governor Cuomo shows that New York families, teachers, roads and good-paying jobs have lost out to political gamesmanship. This is the wrong direction for New York,” said Karen Moreau, New York State petroleum council executive director for the American Petroleum Institute, the largest trade association for the oil and gas industry. 

Opinion polls have long showed a divided public. A 2014 Quinnipiac University poll found that opposition to fracking in the Marcellus shale had risen to a high of 48 percent of voters, compared with 43 percent who supported drilling.

While the state has delayed a decision, however, towns across New York have already acted on their own to ban fracking. In 2011, Dryden and Middlefield, two towns in upstate New York, enacted a ban on fracking, which was then challenged by oil and gas companies. In 2014, however, the state Court of Appeals upheld the bans in a precedent-setting case. Currently, more than 150 towns and cities across the state have passed local fracking moratoriums.

This story has been updated. 

Jason Plautz contributed to this article.
What We're Following See More »
JOINT NEWS CONFERENCE TONIGHT
Trump And Putin Meet in Helsinki
22 minutes ago
THE LATEST

President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin met in Helsinki, kicking off a widely-anticipated diplomatic summit that "consists of a one-on-one meeting and a larger working lunch, and will conclude with a joint news conference." During his opening remarks, President Trump did not mention Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, instead focusing on the World Cup, China and nuclear weapons. His one-on-one meeting with Putin is expected to last around 90 minutes.

Source:
SAYS HE'S ALREADY ADMITTED TO HOUSE COMMITTEE
Roger Stone Says He's the Unnamed Person in Mueller's Indictment
21 hours ago
THE LATEST

"The mercurial veteran GOP political operative, Roger Stone, has acknowledged that he is the unnamed Trump campaign regular who corresponded with an alleged Russian hacker, as described in a new indictment against a dozen Russians returned Friday by a federal grand jury." He told ABC News that he previously admitted to the contact to House investigators. He called the correspondence "benign."

Source:
HACKERS SPOKE WITH AMERICANS
DOJ Indicts 12 Russians For Hacking 2016 Election
21 hours ago
THE LATEST

"A dozen Russian intelligence officers have been charged with conspiring" to hack into Democratic organizations, the Hillary Clinton campaign, and state election boards and private companies providing ballot verifying software for the 2016 presidential election, announced Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The Russians corresponded "with several Americans," Rosenstein said, who clarified that there was "no allegation in this indictment" that the Americans knew they were speaking with Russian hackers.

Source:
PLAYING INTO PUTIN'S HANDS?
Trump Calls European Union a "Foe"
21 hours ago
THE LATEST

"President Trump described the European Union as 'a foe' in an interview with CBS News on Sunday, ahead of his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Finland. "I think we have a lot of foes," Trump said. "I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade. Now, you wouldn't think of the European Union, but they are a foe."

Source:
WITH MIKE PENCE
Kavanaugh Arrives on Capitol HIll
5 days ago
THE LATEST
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login