Energy. Environment. Economy.

New York State bans fracking

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's administration will prohibit fracking in the state, citing unresolved health issues and dubious economic benefits of the widely used gas-drilling technique.

AP Photo/Mike Groll

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's administration will prohibit fracking in the state, citing unresolved health issues and dubious economic benefits of the widely used gas extraction technique.

New York state officials have decided to ban hydraulic fracturing within their borders, citing health concerns.

Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo made the announcement at an end-of-year press conference in Albany Wednesday afternoon.

From the New York Times:

The state has had a de facto ban on the procedure for more than five years, predating Mr. Cuomo’s first term. The decision also came as oil and gas prices continued to fall in many places around the country, in part because of surging American oil production, as fracking boosted output.

The decision has been fraught for Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat.

In June 2012, he flirted with approving a limited program in several struggling Southern Tier counties along New York’s border with Pennsylvania. But later that year, Mr. Cuomo bowed to entreaties from environmental advocates, announcing instead that his administration would start the regulatory process over by beginning a new study to evaluate the health risks.

New York’s acting health commissioner Howard Zucker acknowledged there are gaps in the data but said there are many “red flags” and questions about the risks of fracking.

“The science isn’t here,” Zucker said. “But the cumulative concerns based on the information I have read … gives me reason to pause.”

New York State’s Republican chairman, Ed Cox, slammed the health review as a “political charade.” Cuomo says he is expecting “a ton of lawsuits” in the wake of the decision.

Industry representatives in Pennsylvania have pointed out that New York’s decision on fracking will have little bearing here — at least in the near future — since most of New York’s share of the Marcellus Shale contains less economically attractive dry gas.

Christopher Robart, a consultant with IHS Energy, says the decision will have little to no impact on business in Pennsylvania.

“Folks in the industry have put a lot of money into parts of Ohio and Pennsylvania and built infrastructure,” he says. “Once that’s in the ground, there’s a certain amount of stickiness in the market.”

Paul Hartman, northeast director for the industry group, America’s Natural Gas Alliance says since New York took so long with its fracking review, it was doubtful the state could have poached much business from Pennsylvania.

“I think Pennsylvania will continue to prosper as a highly-producing state for our industry,” he says. “New York, in this instance, stands alone.”

New York State Petroleum Council Executive Director Karen Moreau issued a statement blasting Cuomo’s decision as “reckless.” Her counterpart in Harrisburg agrees. Stephanie Catarino Wissman heads the Associated Petroleum Industries of Pennsylvania.

“New York’s loss is Pennsylvania’s gain,” Wissman tells StateImpact. “My advice to New Yorkers would be come to Pennsylvania for jobs.”

Meanwhile, environmental groups cheered the decision. They say it affirms their concerns about the risks of gas development. Delaware Riverkeeper Maya van Rossum has fought to preserve a fracking moratorium in the Delaware River Basin.

“This makes clear New York will stand firm against drilling within its borders,” she says. “We also hope Governor elect Wolf will open his eyes and take a fresh look at this issue and pull back from his assertion that drilling should be used as a fundraiser for Pennsylvania.”

“I think this decision is going to reverberate in the new administration here in Harrisburg,” says Robert Gardner with the Sierra Club’s Beyond Natural Gas Campaign. “This is another nail in the coffin of the oil and gas industry’s desire to frack anywhere, anytime.”

“New York followed the cautionary principle by putting the burden on industry to demonstrate what impacts it will have, before allowing wide-scale development,” says Cindy Dunn of the environmental group, PennFuture. “Pennsylvania is playing catch-up building adequate regulations.”

Wolf’s spokesman Jeff Sheridan says the incoming governor continues to oppose a ban on fracking.

“Governor-elect Wolf will work to strengthen the rules governing drilling, increase enforcement of the rules, hire more inspectors, and create a health registry to monitor health issues,” he wrote in an email.

In its review, the New York State Department of Health emphasizes the lack of conclusive scientific evidence surrounding the potential public health impact of shale gas development. However, the report acknowledges the ongoing work of researchers Geisinger Health Systems, the University of Pennsylvania and the state Department of Environmental Protection as examples of studies that may “help close existing data gaps.”

Note: this post has been updated to include more reactions to the decision. StateImpact Pennsylvania’s Katie Colaneri contributed reporting.

Read our annotated version of New York’s hydraulic fracturing health review:


  • Fracked

    Of course, the same concerns do not apply to PA. Right? I am happy for NY but I do not see that they banned the use of gas in their state. We will be the extraction zone or colony. I hope the Wolf Pack is paying attention to this news.

    • JimBarth

      Whether “”we” will be the extraction zone or colony” depends on us, whether we are residents of the current extraction zones, or targeted ones. It is not dependent upon the residents of NYS, NYC, or, anywhere else that consumes gas. It is up to the residents in the extraction zones, and targeted zones, to create the solution for ourselves, and, the sooner the better.

      • Fracked

        agreed Jim but I have not seen a lot of interest in protecting our kids here in PA…I know, I live in the extraction zone.

  • Not You

    Fine for now but when the rest is gone it WILL be harvested.

    • Please Look Carefully

      Scotland obtained enough energy using wind turbines to power every home in their country for the month of October. At least one inventor has already invented a windmill that does not kill birds. Mark Jacobson at Stanford, along with his colleagues at U.C. Davis and at Cornell. has already demonstrated that we can get all our energy needs met using wind, water, and solar power by 2050 if we make the commitment now. Their plan would create a plethora of jobs, many of them permanent.
      What is the point of extracting something that is so limited when the sun and the wind are in our faces, and the extraction of fossil fuels is so deadly? The sun and the wind will provide energy as long as our planet can sustain life. It’s not perfect, but the more we invest in clean energy, the better and better it will get.

  • Fracked

    PA cash for kids…

    • AlSever

      Isn’t that the motto of Jerry Sandusky University? Always thought it said something for us here in Pa when Penn Dot puts a weight limit on a rural bridge for gas trucks but waives the limit for school buses using the same bridge. Have to protect those expensive gas trucks!

      • Victoria Switzer

        sorry I meant Kids fracked for cash

      • Please Look Carefully

        And how that heavy truck traffic damages the roads, as well as endangering the rest of the traffic!

        • AlSever

          Actually Township officials are upset because the Gas industry does such a great job of taking care of roads. TWP officials are afraid the industry is spoiling the locals and will always expect the roads to be in such good shape. Most dirt roads have now been paved by the industry which no one ever expected to happen in Northern Pa. Big plus for DEP as now Twp officials don’t bulldoze streams to get gravel to fix dirt roads. Once while working for DEP , I drove from Williamsport to Westfield and counted 18 bulldozers working in waterways without permits. On one site in bradsford County 30,000 yd3 was removed from a waterway but it was back in a couple weeks following a local thunder storm.

      • DeanMarshall
  • JimBarth

    Dr. Theo Colborn, who passed several days ago at the age of 87, knew that “New Yorkers get involved, and, New Yorkers get things done”. I wished she had lived just these few days longer to have seen this get done. She educated millions of us about fracking and endocrine disrupting chemicals for years, and she hoped that with New York getting involved, it would reverberate back to her home in Colorado, that is more in the grips of the industry. as PA is. She hoped that New York would lead the way, and that it would begin to have impacts across the nation. The first part of this has happened. We will all see how this develops across the rest of the nation. In the near term, hallelujah, and thanks to all of us who worked, and did not give up hope, and great thanks to Theo Colborn, a great educator.

    • Celia Janosik

      I agree with you and Dr. Colborn is a hero in my book. Why should future generations bear the burden so that we may all be comfortable now. We should conserve, do with less, especially plastics, and renewable energy should have a Marshall Plan.

    • jonathandeal

      It is certain that those pro-frackers who selfishly attacked Dr. Colborn’s work are already regretting their stance. And there’s more to come, as sensible people all around the world mobilise for sustainability.

  • John R. DiBona

    Health Commissioner made the right decision based on public health precautionary principles. Regardless, NYS constitution gives local communities the right to establish their own land use and zoning regulations in accord with a local control mindset. If he said yes, it would have ended up in the courts. Because he said no, it will end up in the courts.

  • CitizenSane1

    Two points here that need to be taken seriously in PA:

    1) “Wolf’s spokesman Jeff Sheridan says the incoming governor continues to oppose a ban on fracking.” * Meaning he is committed to allow fracking to continue in PA.

    *In other words, PA residents will be used as ‘lab rats and guinea pigs’ as Wolf ‘monitors’ the already well documented health impacts in other states. That is like saying, there is an acceptable number of people who will become seriously, chronically ill, and may even die that is fair exchange for the tax revenue fracking may generate for the state.

    2) “Governor-elect Wolf will work to strengthen the rules governing drilling, increase enforcement of the rules, hire more inspectors, and create a health registry to monitor health issues,” he wrote in an email.”

    I submit that Wolf can not possibly “strengthen the rules governing drilling” when there is no regulatory model that exists that demonstrates that it can be regulated safely, and as history has taught us that whenever a state becomes dependent on an activity for tax revenue, enforcement becomes more lax in order to encourage more of that activity to generate more tax revenue. PA residents and activists need to wake-up and realize that their “seat at Wolf’s negotiating table” is meaningless. At best it will result in more empty feel-good regulatory language intended to quell the growing resistance to unconventional oil and gas extraction and allowing it to continue as Wolf “monitor health issues”.

    It’s important to remember that Tom Wolf accepted $273,000 in direct “campaign contributions” from the oil and gas industry, and currently sits on the board of, and is a major shareholder in the IREX Corporation, and construction company that stands to profit by building the KXL.

  • KeepTapWaterSafe

    Would PA Gov-elect Tom Wolf want his children to play next to a fracking operation? Would he want to live a few hundred feet from a wellpad? Governor Cuomo has said, “No.” What does Wolf say? And for that matter, what would John Hanger and Katie McGinty say?

    • JimBarth

      Both McGinty and Hanger are supporters of shale gas extraction. I haven’t read it yet, but a friend sent me a link that quotes Hanger about how good it will be if / when China starts fracking their shale gas, so China can burn less coal. As Hanger has said (to the effect), “no fossil fuel is perfect”, but he seems to believe that shale gas is the best, and, a blessing for PA.

  • Ladderback

    The good thing for NYS is that they will continue to import the gas from Pa. that they dare not produce. NYC is switching over to gas from petroleum at a rapid pace. The very restaurants hosting anti fracking parties are using fracked gas to cook for the parties and heat the room. Gas lines are being increased in size to allow for that development. They are not against fracking as much as they are about NEARBY fracking. Pennsylvania is expanding its drilling in large part because of the voracious appetite for gas in New York and New Jersey.

    • DeanMarshall

      You forgot to mention that Billions of Cu Ft/day are already contracted to be delivered to Asian Markets Via several proposed pipelines and the Cove Point Md. LNG Export facility! Very little additional gas is going to Domestic byers and just about everyone Knows it!

      • Ladderback

        I don’t know about asian markets and it is irrelevant to my point. NYC is using more and more gas while protesting more and more. “Stop me before I use more environmentally degrading gas!”

    • Please Look Carefully

      To the contrary – New York City residents fought against the Spectra and Rockaway Pipelines in order to keep those high radiation fracked natural gas pipelines out of the five boroughs, but were not successful because our efforts were diluted, our time was limited, and our thousands of comments were denied and ignored. Now we are trying to get the City Council to pass a radon bill to protect us from the radon. In addition, New York State residents are fighting to prevent the building of other pipelines that would carry fracked natural gas.
      It is important to note that these pipelines are also related to the proposed Port Ambrose liquefied natural gas facility. This facility, which would be on Long Island, is to export fracked gas to other countries where the price is much, much higher. Then our prices would also go way up. Dean also mentions this issue of export facilities.

      • Ladderback

        I’m not saying that some aren’t opposing/protesting. I am saying that the protestors are still using fracked gas and that new lines will be installed so that protestors will have a steady flow of that which they protest.

        • Please Look Carefully

          We don’t want it! I do not want that high radon gas! I have been considering leaving the city over this. Also, as I mentioned, this is related to the proposed Port Ambrose liquefied natural gas facility. By the way, I’ve been in PA where they are fracking. Though some people have clean water and are making money, I would not wish on anybody what others are going through. And so many cannot even tell us about it because of gag orders. How is this America when the Constitution is supposed to guarantee freedom of speech and this is something that we all very much need to know about so we are free to judge for ourselves. Meanwhile, our Supreme Court has decided that big money is somehow free speech.

        • Please Look Carefully

          By the way, the builders of both pipelines have atrocious safety records.

          • Ladderback

            Look, a squirrel!

  • wendylynnelee

    Imagine a fireside chat between Governor Cuomo and Pennsylvania’s Governor Elect Wolf. Both democrats, both governing states on the Marcellus Shale, both faced with communities struggling with tough economic realities. One state–New York–has enjoyed a moratorium so that decisions about whether or not to engage in HVHF can be weighed soberly and with close attention to the evidence; the other–Pennsylvania–invites in the natural gas industry waving an American flag and declares itself the Saudi Arabia of the Eastern U.S. Imagine too what’s it’s like to live in the “shale fields” of this Pennsylvania whose experience becomes part of the evidence that leads to New York’s ban.

    That is the subject of this fireside chat between governors:

  • George Wythe

    Act from this moron!

    • kenneth weir

      Who is the moron?

      • George Wythe

        Cuomo, the leader of the idiots, with most of the commentators on here. They are so stupid they aren’t even worth arguing with. None of these assholes should be allowed to use natural gas, oil or any other product which has been ‘fracked’ here. Ever. Preferably they will all just drop dead.

        • kenneth weir

          you sir,are truly a fossil fool. You probably have lots and lots of friends.

      • George Wythe

        Our useless governor!
        This one is the most moronic ‘enviro-arse’ on earth!

        • kenneth weir

          George , why are you so angry. This was just a little victory for now, but look around the world. Oil and gas have created a lot of misery by their dollars first at all costs. With all the money being floated to our politicians and the huge amount of pr being dished out by this industry, it wont be long before the sheep are lead to the shearer. Sleep easy , you are , more likely on the winning side. The cards are already dealt.

        • JimBarth

          This self portrait image you have posted in StateImpact, from my art website, is of an artwork, and my website page clearly states that “All Images and Texts Copyright James Barth”. You do not have my permission to post my artwork on the internet, let alone alter that image (in this case by childishly adding a dunce cap) in any manner before posting it on the internet.

    • JimBarth

      The anonymous want to be lessor blogger, pen named Wythe, loves to call people names, “moron” being one of his favorite. He espouses “safe and responsible” drilling, which does not exist except perhaps on Mars (as far as Earth goes).

      This is an article from Inside Climate News (winner of the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting) published yesterday, 12/22/14. Besides listing some of the findings in the NRDC report, which is based on 18 peer reviewed studies and 6 governmental studies, it portrays a woman in Texas whose home has been surrounded (within a 2.5 mile area) by 50 extraction wells. This is the kind of “safe and responsible” development we should expect from the industry, and the want to be fracked lessors who live in a land of denial for this industry. Unfortunately, we who are opposed, live in the same physical land as their state of denial.

  • kenneth weir

    Mcginty ‘s campaign was run by Mike Mikus. Google search his name and you will understand why I say that the best way to control the opposition is to lead it. Once this government starts mainlining this extraction money , they will start behaving like a heroin or crack addict., needing more and more money. They will prop their budgets up on a non sustainable money flow and then one day it will crash , just as it happened in the mon valley when all the little fiefdoms, up and down the rivers , propped up their budgets with the steel industry money. We have learned nothing and will deserve what is to surely come our way. CHECK OUT MIKE MIKUS!!!!!

    • Please Look Carefully

      Yes, fracking is a boom and bust industry. Some people make money – for a while – but all share the damages. Boom and bust industries leave poverty and high unemployment in their wake. Destroying the environment destroys everything.

  • crystalpoint

    Got some news for you Andrew Governor Andrew Cuomo! The Commonwealth of Pa, just for your action, just might sell you any N.G., from Pa, wells? Is this what the citizens of New York State really want?

    Ray P. Smith, Sr

  • DrDaddy

    Read the report with an open mind. See if you can find wording that claims that fracking is “dangerous.” Basically, we have a lot of flawed / incomplete studies – so we just don’t know. The most damning claim is that communities become congested with more vehicular accidents. If that’s the concern, then let’s ban urbanization. I agree with others that if New York wants to really send a message about fracking, they should prohibit the importation and consumption of fracked gas from other states. Why should they care only about their own health risks, and not those of their neighbors to the south? Then let them deal with the ethics of meeting their energy needs through coal and nuclear, or the realities of using alternatives like wind, solar, biomass, or geothermal.

    • Please Look Carefully

      We tried to stop the Spectra and Rockaway Pipelines, and people upstate are working to stop pipeline construction there.

  • Mystyryman

    I am just reading of 20 Ohio families who cannot stay in their homes because of a methane gas leak from a nearby fracking operation-What a nice way to spend the holidays-With methane intrusion which poses a lot greater average of threat is a way to kiss your life and home good bye-and good luck getting reimbursed for your trouble because they have more money and lawyers than you-You are nothing but shit to them anyway!

  • DeanMarshall
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