Thursday, December 18, 2014

Gov. Andrew Cuomo bans fracking in New York, cites health concerns

NYT  photo by Chang W. Lee
Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday banned fracking throughout the state of New York, citing concerns over health risks, Thomas Kaplan reports for The New York Times. While some economically depressed towns along the Pennsylvania border rely on fracking, Cuomo 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.’”

Several towns have already banned fracking after the state’s highest court ruled that towns could use zoning ordinances to ban the practice, Kaplan writes. But Cuomo had avoided making a decision while waiting for a study by state health officials. The study, released Wednesday, found “significant public health risks” associated with fracking.

The oil and gas industry criticized the decision. Karen Moreau, the executive director of the New York State Petroleum Council, said Cuomo made the decision because “he wants to align himself with the left,” Kaplan writes. Moreau told him, “Our citizens in the Southern Tier have had to watch their neighbors and friends across the border in Pennsylvania thriving economically. It’s like they were a kid in a candy store window, looking through the window, and not able to touch that opportunity.”

The Center for Environmental Health applauded the decision. Ansje Miller, CEH’s Eastern States Director, said in a statement: “New Yorkers can rest easier now that the governor has taken this brave, bold step to protect our children and families from the toxic effects of fracking. Today is a major victory in the movement for safer energy. Other states should follow New York’s example and join the movement for a clean energy future.”

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