New York fracking ban closer to law

Part of the gas-rich Marcellus shale extends beneath the state.

By Daniel J. Graeber

ALBANY, N.Y., May 14 (UPI) -- Parts of the Marcellus shale natural gas play in New York may be off limits to hydraulic fracturing because of potential adverse risks, a state review found.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo banned the use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, as a means of extracting natural gas after a years-long study by environmental and health officials. His December move triggered a review from the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which found "significant uncertainty remains" regarding the risks to public health and the environment that would result from fracking in the state.


Interstate movements on fracking have been fluid since a moratorium was first introduced in 2008. A federal report finds that, while the amount of recoverable gas under New York is unclear, the entire Marcellus shale, which extends under parts of the state, contains at least 141 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, making it one of the most abundant gas reserves of its kind.

In December, the state Department of Health concluded fracking should not proceed in the state. In the latest report, the DEC said it concurred with that decision.


"As a result, more and more area within the Marcellus shale fairway would be off limits to high volume hydraulic fracturing," it said.

Hydraulic fracturing involves the use of trace amounts of chemicals that may be harmful to the public and the environment. Several reports of minor earthquakes have also been linked to the drilling practice.

In December, the American Petroleum Institute said Cuomo's move was "the wrong direction for New York." Heather Bricetti, the top executive at the Business Council of New York, said her group was disappointed with the latest report.

"Fear and misinformation have won the day," she said in a statement.

A DEC findings statement in 10 days may pave the way to making Cuomo's ban official state law. Kate Sinding, an advocacy director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the DEC confirmed many of the fears surrounding the drilling practice.

"The governor has rightfully let science and the will of the people be his guide, despite pressure from a powerful industry," she said.

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