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The Two Sides of New York State's Ban on Fracking

Although hydraulic fracturing in New York State has been on moratorium since 2008, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration has announced that it will now formally ban the practice. But did they make the right move?

Although hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking, in New York State has been on moratorium since 2008, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration has announced that it will formally ban the practice.

The AP is reporting that Wednesday's announcement, though not final, means a ban is all but etched in stone.

"Never before has a state with proven gas reserves banned fracking," said Deborah Goldberg, an attorney with Earthjustice, adding that the decision "will give courage to elected leaders throughout the country and world: fracking is too dangerous and must not continue."

On the other side of the issue, representatives of the gas industry expressed disappointment in the decision. Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute stated:

"We are very disappointed that it appears the governor is unwilling to be a leader and is going to pass the buck at the expense of New Yorkers. This technology has been used for over 65 years in the United States. It's been demonstrated repeatedly after drilling millions of wells that we're able to do it while protecting the environment and protecting the people."

This week’s decision followed the release of a report from the state health department. According to a story byThe Verge, the report outlines the "significant uncertainties" regarding the potential health effects of hydraulic fracturing — a process by which sand, water, and various chemicals are injected into the ground to extract natural gas from shale rock deep underground. The report ultimately concluded that these uncertainties warrant a ban — one that would remain in place until scientific studies can accurately determine the level of risk that fracking poses to public health.

While many are praising the decision, Gov. Cuomo is still working to solve economic problems in upstate New York. Fracking has been heavily pushed as a source of economic boost for depressed communities along New York’s border with Pennsylvania. At one time the Gov. was even set to embrace fracking. But in a New York Times article the Governor 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.’ ”

What Do You Think?

Did New York State make the right move by banning fracking? Will this lead to other states banning the practice? Will this decision hurt the state economically? Tell us what you think by leaving your comments below.