New York Gov. Cuomo announces fracking ban

The Wisconsin Gazette

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Dec. 17 that hydraulic fracturing will be banned in New York, following the release of a long-anticipated study that concluded fracking could pose “significant public health risks.”

Also today, the Long Island Power Authority Board of Trustees voted to approve only a fraction of the renewable energy projects promised by the governor, bringing just 122 megawatts of new solar projects online and falling short of the 280 megawatts of renewable energy the governor committed to this year.

After Cuomo’s announcement, Deborah Goldberg, the managing attorney with Earthjustice, said, “This is truly a monumental day. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has earned a place in history. Never before has a state with proven gas reserves banned fracking. I believe that future generations will point to this day and say ‘This is when the tide began to turn against the dirty, dangerous and destructive fossil fuel industry.'”

Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune said the national group “applauds Gov. Cuomo for recognizing what the science has made consistently clear: fracking is a hazard to human health that endangers communities wherever it is allowed. By banning fracking, Gov. Cuomo has set himself apart as a national political leader who stands up for people, and not for the interests of the dirty fuel lobby. Today’s decision will shake the foundations of our nation’s flawed energy policy, and we can only expect that it will give strength to activists nationwide who are fighting fracking in dozens of states and hundreds of cities and counties.”

Brune said “passionate anti-fracking activists in New York” were “relentless in telling the truth about the dangers of fracking, persevered years of opposition from the oil and gas lobby, and ultimately prevailed. All we need now is for New York to bring wind, solar, and energy efficiency to full potential so we can leave dirty fuels in the ground and move quickly to clean energy prosperity.”

Julia Walsh of Frack Action added, “On behalf of millions of New Yorkers, we would like to thank the governor for his leadership and keeping his word in listening to the science and protecting the health and safety of New Yorkers over the special interests of the oil and gas industry. The science on fracking has been clear. The toxic drilling process would threaten our health, poison our water and air, and forever mar New York as hundreds of health professionals and medical organizations have told us. This decision will affect New York for generations to come. We now look forward to making New York the renewable energy capital of the United States, leading the nation to a better, brighter future.”

Some background on the issue: 

> Physicians, Scientists & Engineers for Healthy Energy recently released a statistical analysis of the approximately 400 peer-reviewed studies to date on the impacts of fracking and shale gas development. It showed:

• 96 percent of all papers published on health impacts indicate potential risks or adverse health outcomes.

• 87 percent of original research studies published on health outcomes indicate potential risks or adverse health outcomes.

• 95 percent of all original research studies on air quality indicate elevated concentrations of air pollutants.

• 72 percent of original research studies on water quality indicate potential, positive association, or actual incidence of water contamination.

> Concerned Health Professionals of NY recently released an updated compendium of the scientific, medical and media findings demonstrating the risks and harms of fracking, with the pace of new studies rapidly expanding — the first few months of 2014 saw more studies published on the health effects of fracking than all studies published in 2011 and 2012 combined.

> A new NYPIRG report released this week showed how local municipalities aren’t suited to decide about fracking because of failed ethics and transparency laws. It revealed that some local governments adopted pro-fracking resolutions despite possible conflicts of interest and failure to provide adequate public notice.

Goldberg, who represented the Town of Dryden, New York, in its precedent-setting fracking ban case, said on Dec. 17 that New Yorkers won a hard-fought victory. “Now all New Yorkers can enjoy the safety and peace of mind that the 80 New York communities that have banned fracking already have,” she said. “We hope that this determined leadership Governor Cuomo has displayed will give courage to elected leaders throughout the country and world: fracking is too dangerous and must not continue.”