Credit: Pat Arnow

Amsterdam News Staff

Last Wednesday, members of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration announced that he would ban hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” in the state, citing potential health risks. The praise, as well as the condemnation was quick to appear.

“On behalf of millions of New Yorkers, we would like to thank the governor for his leadership and keeping his word in listening to the science and protecting the health and safety of New Yorkers over the special interests of the oil and gas industry,” said Julia Walsh, of the activist group Frack Action, in a statement. “The science on fracking has been clear. The toxic drilling process would threaten our health, poison our water and air, and forever mar New York as hundreds of health professionals and medical organizations have told us. This decision will affect New York for generations to come. We now look forward to making New York the renewable energy capital of the United States, leading the nation to a better, brighter future.”

Fracking involves injecting large amounts of water, sand and chemicals deep underground at high pressures in the hopes of releasing oil and natural gas from rock formations. The past decades have seen numerous debates about the environmental damage that could be done by fracking and how it affects the areas in which people live.

The practice was promoted by pro-business advocates as a way to better the lives of residents in economically depressed areas. This effort in favor of fracking focused on the towns, villages and other communities in New York that are along the New York/Pennsylvania border, known as the Southern Tier.

New York State GOP Chair Ed Cox is one of the critics of the governor’s decision.

“This study was a political charade from the start,” said Cox in a statement. “Andrew Cuomo has given in to the radical environmental Luddites in his own party to leave New York as the only one of the 35 states with extractable natural gas to be missing out on the hydrofracking boom.”

Cox continued, “While unemployment in New York’s shale-rich Southern Tier remains high, safely regulated natural gas development has led to the creation of a quarter of a million new jobs across the border in Pennsylvania. To New Yorkers across upstate, struggling for economic growth: New York’s governor has failed you.”