Today, Thomas Kaplan, a reporter for The New York Times, broke the news via Twitter that Governor Andrew Cuomo will ban hydraulic fracturing — commonly known as fracking — in New York state because of health risks.
Fracking is a process that uses water and chemicals to release natural gas trapped in deeply buried shale deposits. The decision was announced during a year-end cabinet meeting in Albany called by Governor Cuomo.
In September 2012, state Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens requested that the state Department of Health review the health impacts of fracking. But it's the DEC's own report from 2008 that has kept large-scale fracking on hold in New York — and finally, the state has decided to move forward with it.
"There's going to be a ton of lawsuits, I'm sure," Cuomo told Kaplan of his administration's decision.
But his administration seems to believe that the potential health risks outweigh the risk of being sued. In fracking, chemicals like methane are injected thousands of feet below the earth's surface, and we can be exposed to them through water contamination and by air pollution. Conditions being reported as a result of this type of exposure include nosebleeds, skin irritation, difficulty breathing, and even birth defects.
Advocates for fracking have argued that it could bring jobs to economically depressed areas, particularly in New York state, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.
Despite this, Howard Zucker, the acting commissioner of health, told the Times, "I cannot support high volume hydraulic fracturing in the great state of New York."
And we agree; Governor Cuomo's recent actions — including the law requiring insurance companies to cover gender-reassignment surgery — are quite the breath of fresh air.
What do you think?