Until recently, New York had seemed poised to approve the method of natural gas extraction dubbed fracking, which would have not only allowed access to vast amounts of safe and clean natural gas, but would also have provided an economic bounty for depressed New York State areas, including more jobs for struggling communities along the Pennsylvania border. But now Gov. Andrew Cuomo has reversed course and ordered yet another study of hydraulic fracturing, restarting the regulatory rule-making process and soliciting yet another round of comments from the public.
The activist antagonism to hydraulic fracturing seems to be quite deep and very widespread, ACSH s Dr. Gilbert Ross says. The antipathy derives solely from fear of adverse effects from hydraulic fracturing that have not actually occurred over the years where this technology has been implemented elsewhere.
In Pennsylvania, Texas, and other areas, fracking is being done without any adverse health effects or contaminated water supplies, Dr. Ross notes. He says crossing the Pennsylvania/New York border can feel a bit like traveling between last century s East and West Germany. In Pennsylvania, where the industry is fracking the Marcellus Shale, the region is booming salaries are up, unemployment is down and so many people have moved to the region for jobs that they re living in trailers. But the New York border towns are economically depressed.
The New York Department of Environmental Conservation says the health concerns that Cuomo s office claims it is addressing were already fully assessed in a draft report released last year. Cuomo caved to activist pressure. There s really no other choice but to believe that to our detriment, Dr. Ross says. Of course the activists are leaping for joy, including the governor s new best friend, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., whose scientific credibility was highlighted a few years ago by his anti-vaccine tirades.
ACSH is even now researching and preparing an expert, peer-reviewed report on the health implications of hydraulic fracturing.