[JURIST] New York Governor Andrew Cuomo [official website] and his administration said Wednesday that they will block hydraulic fracturing [report, PDF] across the state. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking [JURIST backgrounder] is a controversial method of tapping natural gas deposits with high pressurized water. The method, commonly used in the local Marcellus shale [PA DCNR website] deposits, has raised environmental and public health concerns. The report concluded a six-year study, in which the administration found that the potential benefits of tapping natural gas with fracking procedures are not outweighed by these public health risks. This decision could bring many lawsuits in the upcoming years from developers and gas companies that want to drill in the Marcellus shale region. Paul Hartman, the Albany-based northeast director of America's Natural Gas Alliance [advocacy website] criticized the decision [WP report] as "ill-advised."
Hydraulic fracturing is a highly debated topic in regions where recent Marcellus shale gas developments have been associated with toxic water pollution. In July the New York Court of Appeals ruled that towns can use zoning laws to ban fracking [JURIST report]. The New York State Assembly [official website] approved a two-year ban [JURIST report] on fracking in 2013. The measure postponed any potential fracking until May 15, 2015, by which time a "comprehensive health impact assessment" could be conducted to identify potential public health impacts that may result from the process. The ban represented a continuation of a previous ban on fracking that had been in place in the state since 2008. Also in 2013, JURIST guest columnist Nicolas Parke debunked rumors [JURIST op-ed] around fracking. Earlier that year, JURIST guest columnist Samantha Peaslee detailed the future of fracking [JURIST op-ed] in Colorado in the wake of recent lawsuits against fracking companies in the state. In 2012 Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Vermont, New Jersey, New York and the Environmental Protection Agency [JURIST reports] all took regulatory, legislative and judicial steps towards restricting hydraulic fracturing for fear of environmental and public health concerns.