Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has announced that he will incorporate legislation in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Executive Budget permanently banning fracking in New York. Cuomo stated that the temporary ban that is currently in place has not only been prudent, it has also proved that there are cleaner and more sustainable alternative energy options available, which can help to fuel the economy. The legislation would disallow the Department of Environmental Conservation from issuing permits to frackers, described as those who drill, deepen, plug back or convert wells that use high-volume hydraulic fracturing as a means to complete or recomplete a well.
“New York’s leadership on hydraulic fracturing continues to protect the environment and public health, including the drinking water of millions of people, and we must make it permanent once and for all,” Governor Cuomo said. “In the five years since fracking was banned, we have proven that it was in fact, not the only economic option for the Southern Tier. The region has since become a hotbed for clean energy and economic development investment through programs like 76West and Southern Tier Soaring, creating new good-quality jobs that pave the way for further growth.”
New York’s was the first ban by a state with significant natural gas resources.
Cuomo stated that the new legislation is part of the State’s efforts towards achieving its clean energy economy goals. Enhanced efforts are being made to further protect the environment from water and air pollution. As of 2015, The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) embarked upon a 7 year study process, to determine the potential ill-effects on high-volume hydraulic fracturing in communities. Initially, it was a NYS Department of Health (DOH) that questioned the safety of fracking in 2014, when it was determined that research “found significant uncertainties about health, including increased water and air pollution, and the adequacy of mitigation measures to protect public health.” That questioning led to the 2015 ban on high-volume hydraulic fracturing, until further determinations could be made. Ultimately it was the DOH that called for the highly controversial drilling practice to be banned in perpetuity in NYS.
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “Governor Cuomo has detailed the biggest and boldest environmental agenda in the nation, and the permanent ban of hydrofracking is a critical part in ensuring the protection of water quality, transitioning from fossil fuels, and continuing our role as a climate leader. ”
Actor and environmental advocate Mark Ruffalo said, “I join with environmentalists, health experts, and New Yorkers everywhere in applauding Governor Cuomo for including legislation in the budget to make the fracking ban permanent law. The science overwhelmingly shows that fracking is disastrous for drinking water, public health, and climate change. Permanently banning fracking is what real environmental and climate leadership looks like.”