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Experts: Cuomo Ban Means Fracking Boom Will Bypass NY

By    |   Friday, 26 December 2014 08:55 PM

Voters in New York overwhelmingly support Gov. Andrew Cuomo's announcement last week that he was imposing an indefinite statewide ban on fracking, says a Quinnnipiac poll.

But the governor's move is drawing fire from experts who say it was based on flawed science and from residents of struggling rural New York communities who say it will deny state residents the fruits of an economic boom that is transforming other parts of the United States, CNS News reports.

Fracking is a process that enables access to massive amounts of oil and gas trapped in shale and other formations of dense rock.

According to geologists, the huge Marcellus Shale Formation, beneath parts of New York, West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, contains 500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas – enough to supply the entire United States for two years.

The New York ban places 14.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in western New York off-limits to drilling.

State officials have attempted to play down the significance of Cuomo's Dec. 17 announcement by saying that more than 60 percent of the 12 million acres with potential gas deposits had already been placed off-limits to fracking because of local zoning ordinances or existing environmental regulations from Albany.

But the controversy just won't go away.

The statewide ban was based largely on a report by acting New York Health Commissioner Howard Zucker, who observed that "absolute scientific certainty" about fracking will probably never be attained.

Zucker said that until science "provides sufficient information to determine the risk to public health" from fracking, he would recommend that it be banned in New York.

At a press conference announcing the ban, Cuomo said he "will be bound by what the experts say."

But as CNS News observed, many experts have reached the opposite conclusion. For example, a landmark federal study found no evidence that chemicals or brine water from the gas drilling process had contaminated drinking water at a site in western Pennsylvania, the Associated Press reports.

A 2011 report from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation reached similar conclusions, finding that "hydraulic fracturing [fracking] does not present a reasonably foreseeable risk of significant adverse environmental impacts to potential freshwater aquifers."

Groups like the Sierra Club praised Cuomo's fracking ban, but residents of New York's struggling Southern Tier – many of whom are small-business owners and farmers who signed leases permitting energy companies to drill on their land and had been counting on the extra royalty income – are unhappy.

"Our rural communities are dying a slow, painful, poverty-stricken death, and hope is scarce," state Sen. Cathy Young, a Jamestown Republican, told the New York Post. "Gov. Cuomo's decision to ban exploration of our natural gas resources is a punch in the gut to the Southern Tier."

The decision "is utter unscientific rubbish and does a disservice to New York residents who won't be able to take part in the energy boom that their neighbors across the border in Pennsylvania have been enjoying for years," said Richard J. Trzupek, environmental policy adviser at the Heartland Institute, a free-market-oriented think tank based in Chicago.

Zucker "clearly does not understand the first thing about fracking or drilling. If he understood fracking, he would know that we have been using that technique to enhance energy recovery in wells for over 60 years," said Trzupek, a chemist who has worked as an environmental consultant to industry for more than 25 years.

Fracking is "a proven, safe and completely understood method of stimulating a geological formation, not something scary or new," Trzupek said.

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Voters in New York overwhelmingly support Gov. Andrew Cuomo's announcement last week that he was imposing an indefinite statewide ban on fracking, says a Quinnnipiac poll.
fracking, Andrew Cuomo, ban, support
Friday, 26 December 2014 08:55 PM
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