A demonstrator holds a sign during a small protest against fracking in Syracuse, New York on Aug. 22, 2013. New York on Wednesday banned the use of fracking in the state. File photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
ALBANY, N.Y., Dec. 17 (UPI) -- New York state on Wednesday 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.
There had been an indefinite moratorium placed on fracking in the state since 2008 when then-N.Y. Gov. David Paterson ordered a review on the safety of the controversial process.
N.Y. State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker on Wednesday declared he wouldn't be comfortable if his own children were to live near a fracking site.
"I cannot support high-volume hydraulic fracturing in the great state of New York," he said during a year-end meeting of N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo's cabinet.
Fracking has come under fire from environmentalists, who say its potential to pollute water and air, and cause health problems to those living near where the process takes place doesn't outweigh the energy and economic benefits.
A study commissioned by the National Resources Defense Council in October found 80 percent of New Yorkers supported a ban on fracking within the state.
"With today's decision, New Yorkers have received the greatest holiday gift we could ask for -- clean air, clean water, and healthy communities," Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, told the Buffalo News on Wednesday in reaction to the decision by Cuomo's administration. "Unlike the toy that will break in a week, this gift will be felt for generations to come."
Brad Gill, executive director of the Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York, supports fracking and says Wednesday's move will negatively impact the state's economy.
"After six years of delay and much debate, those many companies who have left New York for greener pastures in Pennsylvania, Ohio, or elsewhere know they made the right decision," he said. "While industry will find opportunity elsewhere, our hearts go out to the farmers and landowners in the Southern Tier whose livelihoods in New York State are in jeopardy."