New York State’s Fracking Ban is Official
NRDC Switchboard, June 29, 2015. Image credit: David Lofink
It’s official! New York State has taken the historic step of banning high-volume fracking throughout the state.
I know, you may have thought that had happened back in December. In fact, while Governor Cuomo – through his Commissioners of Environmental Conservation and Health – announced then that the state’s determination was to prohibit fracking, it was the issuance of a so-called Findings Statement that culminated the nearly 7-year environmental review process that formalized that decision.
The Findings Statement is the document that demonstrates that the Department of Environmental Conservation has properly considered all of the factors mandated under the state’s environmental review law, and sets forth the basis for its determination on a proposed project – in this case, a new high-volume fracking program. It is both legally binding on the state’s regulators and, as discussed further below, not easily dismantled by future decision makers.
In a nutshell, the Findings Statement says that, after considering (1) the potential environmental and health impacts, as well as (2) potential measures that could be imposed to mitigate those impacts, and factoring in (3) substantial scientific uncertainties and (4) limited economic and social benefits, (5) a ban is the only alternative that ensures that potential adverse effects are maximally avoided or minimized.