(3BL Media/Justmeans) - On December 17th New York Governor Andrew Cuomo shook the world with the announcement with the Empire State was banning the practice of hydraulic fracturing or fracking, as it’s come to be known. The governor claims to have relied on the judgment of Health Commissioner Dr. Harold A. Zucker and Joseph Martens, the state environmental conservation commissioner, in making the call. “I am not a scientist,” said the governor. “ I’m not an environmental expert. I’m not a health expert. I’m a lawyer. So let’s bring the emotion down, and let’s ask the qualified experts what their opinion is.”
Zucker said his decision boiled down to the question of whether he’d want his family living in a town where fracking was taking place. The answer was no.
Fracking has been credited for the huge boom in US oil and gas production, which has put it on a path to overtake Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest producer. But it has also been controversial, almost from the outset, with numerous complaints about health issues, fear of contaminated water supplies, large amounts of water consumption and earthquakes. Economic impacts could potentially cover a wide swath of our economy starting with agriculture and tourism and extending outward from there. Yet drillers are protected by Federal law from disclosing, under the Safe Water Drinking Act, the contents of the “fracking fluids” they are injecting into the ground. This loophole was put in place by former Vice-President Dick Cheney, whose company Halliburton has been a major player in the fracking industry. This level of secrecy has done much to increase public suspicion of the process.
The domestic energy boom has helped to bring energy prices down which has helped to make American industry more globally competitive. It has also helped to accelerate the move away from coal on the part of many utility companies. Add to that the fact that it has reduced our dependence on imported oil, and you can see why so many were willing to overlook the potential health and environmental risks that have been associated with the practice.