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State of NY Disappoints in Hydraulic Fracturing Ban

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration announced December 17 that it plans to ban hydraulic fracturing in New York State because of what regulators say are its unexplored health risks and dubious economic benefits. New York, which overlies part of the gas-rich Marcellus Shale formation that has led to a drilling boom in Pennsylvania and other nearby states, has banned shale gas development since 2008, when the state began an environmental review of the drilling technique.

Initially the environmental conservation department released a draft report recommending hydraulic fracturing be allowed, but public debate prompted the state to order a second draft. The governor later ordered the New York State Department of Health to conduct its own study. The health department delayed issuing that report several times. Nicole Jacobs of Energy In Depth Marcellus pointed to the reports from last year that the state had earlier found that fracking could be safely pursued.

“Despite this disappointing announcement from New York, the service and supply sector will continue to responsibly practice the proven technology of hydraulic fracturing across the nation. The benefits derived from the domestic production of oil and natural gas through the use of hydraulic fracturing are far from ‘dubious’ and include sustained creation of millions of jobs for hard working Americans, greater geopolitical strength and lowered energy prices.  Minimization of environmental impact in the communities where we live and work is a top priority for the sector, and the energy resurgence of our country will continue,” said PESA President Leslie Beyer.

Steve Everley, spokesman for Energy in Depth, also believes hydraulic fracturing will continue to thrive in other states despite the cheers of emboldened environmentalists. “New York is one of the highest per capita users of natural gas in the United States, and if the Cuomo administration thinks it’s better to import that gas instead of producing it locally, then I suppose that’s good news for workers and mineral owners in other states,” Everley said.

U.S. Congressman Tom Reed who represents the 23rd district of New York understands the impact this will make on his constituents. “I am extremely disappointed in today’s announcement from Governor Cuomo which bans hydraulic fracturing. This move effectively blocks the development of natural gas and oil resources in New York State. This is devastating news for the Southern Tier economy and its residents who are struggling every day. This decision makes it even more difficult to replace the good jobs that have already left due to New York’s unfriendly business climate. Once again Albany shows that it wants to enact an extreme liberal agenda rather than care about  individual property rights and job opportunities. I care about Southern Tier residents and will fight for them every day. Simply put this extreme liberal agenda is not right and not fair for our future.”

Update December 19:

New York’s Department of Health (DOH) “reviewed and evaluated relevant emerging scientific literature investigating the environmental health and community health dimensions of HVHF.” Most of that literature, however, has been either discredited or shown to have exceedingly faulty methodologies, which Energy in Depth outlined line-by-line. Interestingly, when discussing just about every one of these dubious studies, DOH admits that they actually didn’t have any evidence to link hydraulic fracturing to health impacts.

This decision based on faulty methodologies is directly affecting people in the Southern Tier of New York. On Thursday, Mr. Cuomo said that there was “no doubt” the Southern Tier needed economic development, but that it could not come at the expense of public health as reported by The New York Times. Frederick Russell, a 60-year-old from Binghamton in the Eastern Southern Tier, said the decision “was like a whammy. It was like ‘Well, Binghamton, you’re so far down we don’t care about you anymore, so just disappear.’ ”

Article References:

The New York Times: Shock in Southern Tier as Hopes of Gambling and Shale Development Die

Oil & Gas Journal: New York state moves to ban hydraulic fracturing

WNYC News: NY State Health Department Report Says Fracking Could Be Done Safely

Politico: New York bars fracking, but Cuomo keeps his distance

AP: New York to ban fracking; environmentalists cheer

Energy in Depth: The Dubious Scientific Foundation for New York’s Fracking Ban

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