[JURIST] The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC) [official website] released a final environmental impact statement [report, PDF] on the dangers of fracking on Monday, which carries the force of law and officially bans fracking in the state. Signed by NYDEC Commissioner Joseph Martens [official profile], the report cited significant water withdrawals, increased stormwater runoffs, potential severe flooding and inadequate waste disposal as possible dangers that may affect the state’s water resources. The report also cited the dangers of increased greenhouse gas emissions and the release of naturally occurring radioactive material [World Nuclear Association site]. The Department considered extensive mitigation measures but were not convinced as to their efficacy. “In the end…[t]he Department’s chosen alternative to prohibit high-volume hydraulic fracturing is the best alternative based on the balance between protection of the environment and public health and economic and social considerations.” This decision confirms a report issued in December by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo [official website] and his administration affirming their intent will block hydraulic fracturing [JURIST report] 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 Marcellus shale [PA DCNR website] deposits, has raised environmental and public health concerns. In March, the Maryland House of Delegates [official website] passed a bill [JURIST report] to place a 3-year moratorium on fracking in the state. Also in March US Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell [official profile] announced [JURIST report] the publication of a rule regulating fracking on federal land. In January Scotland announced [JURIST report] a moratorium on the granting of permits for unconventional oil and gas extraction, including fracking amid environmental and health concerns. In December New York Governor Andrew Cuomo [official website] and his administration issued a report affirming their intent will block hydraulic fracturing [JURIST report] across the state.