Preserving the Environment

The State That’s Prioritizing Residents’ Safety Over Natural Gas Profits

December 18, 2014
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The State That’s Prioritizing Residents’ Safety Over Natural Gas Profits
Environmental advocates pointed to New York’s decision as the first ban by a state with significant natural-gas resources. Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Everyone's breathing a little easier now.

New York is telling the oil and gas industry to get out.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration recently announced that hydraulic fracturing has been banned in the state, as the process “could contaminate the state’s air and water and pose inestimable public-health risks,” the New York Times reports.

“I cannot support high volume hydraulic fracturing in the great state of New York,” says Howard Zucker, the acting commissioner of health.

Fracking, which involves shooting a highly pressurized mixture of water and chemicals into shale formations to release natural gases, is currently driving a drilling boom across the country and is a big reason why your gas is so cheap.

MORE: Meet the 70-Year-Old Lone Star Who Polices Fracking Waste

New York has long been resistant to the process. The state already had a de-facto moratorium on fracking for several years, and as we reported in July, New York’s top court upheld Home Rule, which gave municipalities the right to apply its zoning laws to oil and gas wells. The latest decision is just a final blow to the state’s natural gas industry.

Mother Jones notes that New York isn’t the first state to ban fracking — that honor belongs to Vermont, which banned it in 2012 (but since it doesn’t have natural gas, the move was mostly symbolic). Because New York sits on the gas-rich Marcellus shale formation, “this is the first state ban with real significance,” Kate Sinding, a senior attorney in New York for the Natural Resources Defense Council, tells the publication.

Proponents of the process cite its potential to bolster the economy and create tens of thousands of jobs. That’s why, as Capital New York reports, Gov. Cuomo is already anticipating “a ton of lawsuits” in response to the decision.

Still, it’s a major victory for our health and the health of the planet. Actor and prominent eco-activist Mark Ruffalo (who recently wrote a Huffington Post article about the many dangers of fracking) posted an Instragram video about the decision and thanked Cuomo, Zucker and Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner Joe Martens for their work.

He also gave a shout-out to “all the beautiful, dedicated people on the anti-fracking movement who used science, their guts, their brains and their hearts to make this day a reality.”

Let’s hope this this movement catches on country-wide.

DON’T MISS: Watch How This Little Town Stood Up Against a Gas Giant

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