New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) has issued its final environmental impact statement. With the department saying “fracking posed risks to land, water, natural resources, and public health,” New York has formally ban high-volume hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.
The final environmental impact statement has been seven years in the making. An unprecedented number of public comments were submitted—more than 260,000. Most of these called on the department to severely restrict or prohibit fracking.
“After years of exhaustive research and examination of the science and facts, prohibiting high-volume hydraulic fracturing is the only reasonable alternative,” Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens said.
“High-volume hydraulic fracturing poses significant adverse impacts to land, air, water, natural resources, and potential significant public health impacts that cannot be adequately mitigated. This decision is consistent with DEC’s mission to conserve, improve, and protect our state’s natural resources, and to enhance the health, safety, and welfare of the people of the state,” he added.
The two main groups that were involved in the campaign, New Yorkers Against Fracking and Americans Against Fracking, have praised the decision and ts conclusion that “there are no feasible or prudent alternatives that adequately avoid or minimize adverse environmental impacts and address risks to public health from this activity.”
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Oil and gas groups are not happy with the statement, and have threatened to sue New York.
However, Earthjustice, a nonprofit environmental law organization of attorneys, is confident the DEC’s review “will withstand legal challenge.”
“We salute Governor Andrew Cuomo’s refusal to bow to industry pressure. He had the courage to do what no other state or federal leader has had the courage to do, let the available scientific evidence dictate whether fracking should proceed in New York,” Deborah Goldberg, Earthjustice Managing Attorney, told EcoWatch.
The executive director of the New York branch of the American Petroleum Institute, Karen Moreau, said: “Hydraulic fracturing is a proven, 60-plus-year-old process that has been done safely in over 1 million American wells. Surging production of natural gas is a major reason U.S. carbon emissions are near 20-year lows.”
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Moreau also noted an Environmental Protection Agency report that was completed earlier this month that found fracking had not caused widespread threats to drinking water, but it warned of potential contamination of water supplies if safeguards aren’t maintained, reported ABC News.
“Remaining questions cited by EPA have all been addressed by a wide array of strong state regulations, industry standards, and federal laws,” Moreau added.
Alex Beauchamp, who is the northeast region director for Food & Water Watch, said: “New Yorkers can celebrate the fact that we won’t be subjected to the toxic pollution and health risks fracking inevitably brings. By banning fracking, Governor Cuomo stood up to the oil and gas industry, and in so doing became a national leader on health and the environment. He set a standard for human health and safety that President Obama and other state leaders should be striving for.”
This is a win for the environment and for the people of New York.