New York State is banning the oil and gas drilling process known as fracking, citing potential risks to public health. Fracking involves blasting sand, water and toxic chemicals deep into shale rock to release oil and gas, a process which can poison water supplies and pollute the air. Environmentalists have waged a fierce campaign to pressure the administration of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to render permanent a 2009 moratorium on the practice. Following a two-year study, acting health commissioner Howard Zucker said fracking was too risky.
Howard Zucker: “The potential risks are too great. In fact, they are not even fully known. Relying upon the limited data that is presently available to answer the public health risks would be negligent on my part. I have identified significant public health risks in the current data. And until the public health red flags are answered by valid evidence through longitudinal long-term studies, prospective analysis, patient surveys with large population pools showing that the risk for impact on public health are avoidable or sufficiently low, I cannot support high-volume hydraulic fracturing in the great state of New York.”
New York will be the first state with major gas deposits to ban fracking. The move will protect reserves in New York’s portion of the Marcellus Shale, a massive underground rock formation which stretches across multiple states including Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio.