New York State bans fraccing

NEW York State Governor Andrew Cuomo has placed an official ban on fraccing in the state after a long-awaited health report concluded the practice risks water and air pollution and has insufficient evidence to prove its safety.

Andrew Snelling

New York has had a de facto ban on fraccing for more than six years, a hard fact for oil and gas companies with acreage over the state’s portion of the Marcellus shale to swallow.

Sydney-based Empire Energy came out guns blazing yesterday referring to the state’s cautious approach as “populist pandering”, but conceded that the most recent decision would not affect its balance sheet.

“While this decision is very disappointing for the company it is important to note that the Marcellus and Utica acreage held by the company was a ‘free’ upside on existing acreage, recorded in the company’s books at zero cost, being acquired as part of a previous acquisition of producing assets,” Empire chairman Bruce McLeod said.

“The decision is a negative for all energy companies operating in New York State. It is expected that the industry will closely review the grounds on which the decision has been made, especially as in part of the announcement, the Department of Environment stated they could see very little economic benefit accruing to the state if fracking was allowed.

“New York is the only USA State that has substantial oil and gas resources that has now banned fracking.”

Cuomo, a Democrat, has been under pressure to improve the economic climate of townships upstate with fraccing being a tempting solution; however, he is unconvinced of the practice’s merits.

“I’ve never had anyone say to me, ‘I believe fraccing is great,’” The New York Times reported the governor as saying.

“Not a single person in those communities. What I get is, ‘I have no alternative but fraccing.’”

Cuomo was recently re-elected to his role, winning a second term over primary challenger and anti-fraccing candidate Zephyr Treachout who won about a third of the vote.

Anti-fraccing sentiment has manifested in dozens of communities across New York in recent months, with the US Court of Appeals ruling that towns could use zoning ordinances to implement bans.

This has led to a number of localised moratoriums and bans.

New York State Petroleum Council executive director Karen Moreau reportedly attributed the fraccing ban to a desire within the Governor to “align himself with the left”

“Our citizens in the Southern Tier have had to watch their neighbours and friends across the border in Pennsylvania thriving economically,” she said.

“It’s like they were a kid in a candy store window, looking through the window and not able to touch that opportunity.”

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