Appalachian Basin

EPA’s New Water Study Further Reveals Folly of New York Fracking Ban

With the release of EPA’s long-awaited groundwater study – which found “hydraulic fracturing activities in the U.S. are carried out in a way that has not led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources” – Governor Cuomo’s decision to ban fracking in New York has come under scrutiny yet again.

As the Wall Street Journal put it in an editorial today,

 “Andrew Cuomo’s ban on drilling is exposed as a fraud. So even the Environmental Protection Agency now concedes that fracking is safe, which won’t surprise anyone familiar with the reality of unconventional oil and natural gas drilling in the U.S. But if no less than the EPA is saying this, then the political opposition doesn’t have much of a case left.”

And not long after the EPA’s study was released, elected officials and business groups in New York began asking the governor to re-evaluate the ban:

Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y.: “I fully expect Governor Cuomo to reverse his previous decision to ban fracking which was based upon controversial scientific studies and made to appease far left environmentalists. Hardworking New Yorkers deserve the job opportunities and economic growth fracking has clearly produced in other states, including neighboring Pennsylvania.”

Rep. Tom Reed, R-NY: “Hopefully the governor will reconsider his ban and allow this to move forward. We’re talking 54,000 jobs in the state according to the governor’s own report on the matter.”

Heather Bricetti, President & CEO of The Business Council of New York State: “Now that the EPA has confirmed what top scientists have said all along, that fracking is safe and has no widespread impact on drinking water, we are calling on (New York State Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner Joseph) Martens and the state Department of Environmental Conservation to rescind the temporary ban on high-volume hydraulic fracturing in New York State. The permit conditions laid out in the revised 2011 SGEIS addressed all of the concerns contained in today’s EPA report. The state should adopt those permit conditions and allow fracking to safely move forward.”

Of course, politics once again has trumped science in the New York echo chamber with the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) stating the findings won’t impact the status of the ban.  According to the Associated Press,

“The Cuomo administration says the ban will stay.

Department of Environmental Conservation spokesman Tom Mailey says the EPA review released Thursday focused on impacts to water related to high-volume hydraulic fracturing. But he said the state’s review was much broader, evaluating impacts to air, water, public health, ecosystems, wildlife and communities.

Mailey said the state’s review identified “many potential significant adverse impacts.” He said DEC will soon release a legal document formalizing the state’s fracking ban.”

As EID noted in recent testimony before Congress (and a subsequent whitepaper), much of the “science” used to justify the New York ban was part of an echo chamber consisting of anti-fracking activists not only funding the research, but authoring and peer-reviewing it, too – all without disclosing their bias to the public or scientific community.

Compare that to EPA’s study, which is the most comprehensive report on fracking to date:

“EPA’s draft assessment will give state regulators, tribes and local communities and industry around the country a critical resource to identify how best to protect public health and their drinking water resources. It is the most complete compilation of scientific data to date, including over 950 sources of information, published papers, numerous technical reports, information from stakeholders and peer-reviewed EPA scientific reports.” (emphasis added)

The 10 day waiting period since the release of the SGEIS has passed, and any day now New York claims it will officially institute its ban on hydraulic fracturing. Unfortunately for New Yorkers (who are set to lose out on 54,000 jobs), science apparently doesn’t have a place in the conversation when politics come into play.

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