At a cabinet meeting that was open to the public today, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York State Department of Conservation Commissioner Joseph Martens and New York Department of Health Commissioner Howard Zucker announced that the practice of natural gas drilling called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, will be prohibited in New York State.
"I have considered all of the data and find significant questions and risks to public health which as of yet are unanswered," said Dr. Zucker. "I think it would be reckless to proceed in New York until more authoritative research is done. I asked myself, 'would I let my family live in a community with fracking?' The answer is no. I therefore cannot recommend anyone else's family to live in such a community either."
The DOH finding is the final nail in the coffin for fracking in New York. Martens, the head of the DEC, which has been reviewing the practice for the past six years, said "the risks substantially outweigh any potential economic benefits" of fracking:
Considering the research, public comments, relevant studies, Dr. Zucker's report and the enormous record DEC has amassed on this issue, I have directed my staff to complete the final SGEIS. Once that is complete, I will prohibit high-volume hydraulic fracturing in New York State at this time."
Anti-fracking activists around the state, including Hollywood star and Catskills part-time resident Mark Ruffalo, are celebrating the decision. (Ruffalo issued an ecstatic video on Instagram--see above.)