Following the release of a long-awaited study on the public health impacts of hydraulic fracturing in New York State, Governor Cuomo announced on December 17 that he would move to formally ban fracking. For months prior to the announcement, Cuomo had been under intense pressure to announce a ban on fracking from environmentalist protestors who regularly appeared at his events. Acting state health commissioner Dr. Howard A. Zucker, wrote in the report that “The overall weight of the evidence … demonstrates that there are significant uncertainties about the kinds of adverse health outcomes.”
The state has been under a de facto moratorium since 2008 as officials have studied the potential health and environmental impacts of the practice. A recent Quinnipiac University poll found that 55 percent of New York voters approve of the ban, and 33 percent think “more favorably” of Cuomo.
Environmental groups in Pennsylvania celebrated the decision to ban fracking in New York as a victory against fracking. However, Pennsylvania natural gas producers also welcome the decision and anticipate an influx of qualified workers from New York, where the existing moratorium has prevented even the most basic investments in fracking development, according to NPR.
At least one legislator, U.S. Representative Tom Reed (R-Corning), has spoken out against the ban and is advocating for compensation for land owners impacted by the move. “If you’re going to take people’s property, like this ban represents, of taking their property rights with their natural gas rights now off the table. It’s only right and fair that we compensate them for that,” Reed said according to NPR Buffalo.
On Tuesday, a U.S. District Court Judge in Rochester ruled that there was no evidence of contamination from natural gas wells in Chemung County in a case brought against Denver-based Anschutz Exploration Corp by nine southern New York homeowners.