New York State bans fracking amidst environmental concerns

Posted on 18 Dec 2014 by Tim Brown

New York State has become the first US state with considerable natural gas reserves to ban the controversial extraction technique known as fracking.

On Wednesday the administration of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo moved forward with plans ban fracking across the state, citing excessive environmental and health concerns.

“I cannot support high volume hydraulic fracturing in the great state of New York,” said Howard Zucker, the acting commissioner of health.

New York is the second state to ban fracking, after Vermont did so in 2012. But that decision was seen as simply symbolic as Vermont has no significant natural gas reserves. This is in comparison to New York, which has potentially large reserves thanks to its large share of the Marcellus shale formation in the south-west of the State.

The ban will end the state’s current six-month moratorium on fracking.

The process of fracking involves the injection of a high-pressure fluid (usually chemicals and sand suspended in water) into a wellbore to create cracks in the deep-rock formations to release natural gas and oil.

The widely used, deep-drilling process has resulted in a surge in domestic-energy production in states such as Texas and Pennsylvania. And according to a 2012 report from released by the industry, jobs tied to unconventional oil and gas production will reach 3.5 million by 2035.

However, state and local governments are pushing for bans over the health and environmental concerns, including the potential for earthquakes, such as those which reportedly occurred in the UK, and the contamination of natural water supplies.