It's official. New York state will ban fracking.
After years of lobbying and aggressive public protest by state residents to make permanent a short-term moratorium on the controversial oil and gas drilling practice, Gov. Andrew Cuomo cited harm to public health as the key reason for the decision to announce an all-out ban. "The potential impacts of fracking on water, air, land resources, community and local services are significant," Cuomo said in a tweet just after the decision was made public.
In response to the news, Wenonah Hauter, director of Food & Water Watch, which has fought aggressively against fracking in New York and across the country, declared the development as the "Biggest fracking victory ever!"
"Our growing national movement has persevered," Hauter added in a statement. "We applaud Governor Cuomo for acknowledging the overwhelming science that speaks to the inherent dangers of fracking to public health and the environment. Fracking has no place in New York or anywhere, and the governor has smartly seized a golden opportunity to be a real national leader on health, environmental protection and a future free of polluting fossil fuels."
As the New York Times reports on Wednesday:
The Cuomo administration announced Wednesday that it would ban hydraulic fracturing in New York State, ending years of uncertainty by concluding that the controversial method of extracting gas from deep underground could contaminate the state’s air and water and pose inestimable public-health risks.
"I cannot support high volume hydraulic fracturing in the great state of New York," said Howard Zucker, the acting commissioner of health.
That conclusion was delivered publicly during a year-end cabinet meeting called by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in Albany. It came amid increased calls by environmentalists to ban fracking, which uses water and chemicals to release natural gas trapped in deeply buried shale deposits.
The state has had a de facto ban on the procedure for more than five years, predating Mr. Cuomo’s first term. The decision also came as oil and gas prices continued to fall, in part because of surging American oil production, as fracking boosted output.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has listened to his constituents and scientists, said celebrating environmental activists, as they applauded Wednesday's announcement.
Jubilant reactions among local activists and national environmental leaders was swift on Twitter.
This story was originally published on Common Dreams.