Last week, the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) issued a “findings statement” that officially prohibits high-volume hydraulic fracturing in New York State.  The state’s action also opens the door to potential legal challenges to the state’s ban of the process, which involves the use of water, sand and chemicals into underground shale formations to release natural gas.

The state began its review of hydraulic fracturing in July 2008 after gas companies began applying to drill horizontally into Marcellus Shale formation, part of which is below the state’s Southern Tier and Catskills regions. Last December, state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker issued a report that raised concerns about the process.  Earlier this year, the DEC issued its Final Supplemental Generic Environmental Statement, a dense document that outlined its findings.

In the findings statement, Commissioner Martens wrote: “The Department’s chosen alternative to prohibit high-volume hydraulic fracturing is the best alternative based on the balance between protection of the environment and public health and economic and social considerations.”

We beg to differ.  Safe, responsible natural gas development would have provided significant benefits throughout Upstate New York, including millions in state and local revenues and tens of thousands of jobs in the Southern Tier. While other states across the nation continue to realize the numerous economic benefits from responsible natural gas development.