Last Wednesday, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) released its long-awaited review of hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as “fracking,” for natural gas development. The document, known as the Final Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS), took nearly seven years to complete. What’s interesting is that it does not find that fracking is dangerous to people or to the environment; it merely concludes there are “major uncertainties about potential significant adverse health and environmental impacts” associated with high-volume fracking.
The release of the SGEIS is the culmination of a process that began in 2008, when then-Gov. David Paterson initiated the review and put in place a moratorium on fracking. Last December, Gov. Cuomo announced that his administration would not permit fracking in New York after receiving a report from the state’s Department of Health that identified concerns about potential adverse human health impacts.
The release of the SGEIS is expected to be followed – possibly as soon as this week – DEC’s legally binding “findings statement” that would officially put the ban on high-volume fracking in place. Assuming that DEC does so, New York will be the only state in the nation with a significant natural gas formation to ban fracking. Given our reliance on natural gas, our need for jobs in the Southern Tier, and the environmental benefits that natural gas offers over the buying of coal and oil, we think the state’s move makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.