Politics

NY Officially Bans Fracking After EPA Says It’s Safe

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Michael Bastasch Energy Editor

The Cuomo administration has released the final findings of its multi-year study on hydraulic fracturing, officially banning the practice in the state. New York’s ban, however, comes after the EPA found no “widespread, systemic” evidence of groundwater contamination from hydrofracking.

“In the end, there are no feasible or prudent alternatives that would adequately avoid or minimize adverse environmental impacts and that address the scientific uncertainties and risks to public health from this activity,” New York Department of Environmental Conservation regulators wrote in their study.

“The Department’s chosen alternative to prohibit high-volume hydraulic fracturing is the best alternative based on the balance between protection of the environment and public health and economic and social considerations,” Department officials wrote.

New York’s report condemning hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, comes just weeks after the EPA released its own multi-year report which found no “evidence that [fracking activities] have led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States.”

New York’s fracking study has been touted by environmentalists who want to ban the well-stimulation technique nationwide, but the study by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration did not find any hard evidence that fracking was harming the environment or public health.

“This decision is a moratorium on New York’s economic opportunity,” Karen Moreau, the executive director of the American Petroleum Institute-New York, said in a statement.

“After five years of comprehensive study, the EPA’s $32 million review confirms that properly regulated fracking poses no systemic widespread threat to drinking water,” Moreau said. “New York remains idle while thousands of families in NY’s southern tier have their hopes for economic opportunity dashed by the Governor’s decision.”

The Cuomo administration argues its study looks at “impacts to air, water, public health, ecosystems, wildlife and community character” as opposed to the EPA’s study that just looks at water resources. But the main environmentalist objections to fracking focused on its potential impacts on water resources, so the EPA’s findings have cast doubt upon New York’s state-level ban.

“New York has made history today,” Kate Sinding, director of the Community Fracking Defense Project at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Governor Cuomo boldly refused to cave to pressure to gamble our clean air, safe drinking water and communities for oil and gas industry profit. The health and well-being of New Yorkers has prevailed over powerful polluters.”

Proponents of fracking have also called into question the research used to justify banning the technique in New York. The industry-backed group Energy In Depth issued a report claiming Cuomo’s fracking study “relies on highly questionable sources, including research papers with strong ties to the fringe activists who helped hasten the ban in New York.” EID notes that some of the research cited by DEC officials “were financed and produced almost entirely by professional opposition groups.”

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