New York Fracking Ban Draws Attention to Health Concerns

Last week, New York banned fracking statewide, a move which environmental activists say will encourage more states to do the same, reports National Geographic. Already, anti-fracking advocates are citing the regulatory change in their efforts to push for more bans on fracking, says Kate Sinding, senior attorney at the Resources Defense Council. Such groups, for example, just urged Maryland’s Democratic governor, Martin O’Malley, to withdraw his decision to allow fracking before the Republican governor-elect, Larry Hogan, takes office.

New York’s move seems to have brought environmental and health concerns associated with fracking to the forefront.

This week, The Washington Post ran an OpEd by Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund, which called the ban “a vindication for communities around the country that have been hit hard by unconventional natural gas production.” In the OpEd, Krupp cites examples of local air and water pollution that has been caused by fracking, emphasizing that natural gas is mostly methane. Krupp goes on to explain that methane is “80 times more potent than carbon dioxide over 20 years.”

According to the National Geographic article, Howard Zucker, New York’s acting health commissioner, also draws connections between fracking and pollution. Zucker said drinking-water contamination and increased air pollutants, such as diesel and volatile organic compounds, were explanations for why the state determined that fracking was associated with “significant” public-health risks.

The article suggests that another reason the ban could have broader implications is that New York is home to parts of the Marcellus and Utica shale formations – which are targets of a drilling boom in Pennsylvania.

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