Breaking: NY rules against hydrofracking
New York’s health and environmental commissioners today rejected the prospect for hydraulic fracturing in New York, saying that health risks, the potential of local bans and limited available land would outweigh the benefits of the controversial drilling technique.
The conclusions by the state Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens and Acting Health Commissioner Howard Zucker brings to an end the state’s uncertainty over whether it would proceed with fracking. The state has had a de facto moratorium since 2008.
Martens estimated that at least 63 percent of the land available in New York for hydrofracking — mainly across the Marcellus Shale in the Southern Tier — would be ineligible for high-volume hydraulic fracturing (HVHF) because of various health risks.
“I’d say the prospects for HVHF development in New York are uncertain at best,” Martens said. “Given the wide-ranging potential or increased local regulation of HVHF, the extensive and growing number of restrictions that the state was considered and the increased cost of mitigation, the economic benefits are clearly far lower than originally forecast.”
Zucker said many uncertainties remain, saying more study is needed to ensure that the land, water and air are protected from high-volume hydraulic fracturing.
The DEC early next year will issue a legal binding statement to prohibit fracking at this time, Martens said.
Zucker said that, “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.”
Cuomo said he would defer to the health experts to decide the issue. Cuomo said whether to allow for fracking has been the most emotionally charged issue he has dealt with.
“So let’s bring the emotion down and let’s ask the qualified experts what their opinion is,” Cuomo said. “And all things being equal, I will be bound by what the experts say.”