After much debate, New York’s Governor, Andrew Cuomo, announced on Wednesday
December 17th that the state would ban fracking. Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a
method of recovering gas and oil from shale rock by drilling into the ground and then
injecting a mixture of water, sand, and chemicals into the rock at a high pressure to
release the gases in the rock.
Environmentalist groups around the state as well as the Democratic Party celebrated this
ban. This was also a political step in the right direction for Governor Cuomo who,
according to The New York Times, was in need of repairing his relationship with the left.
Many people are worried about the biological effects of fracking, making it more than
just a political issue. Not only does fracking taint large amounts of water, but the
chemicals that are used can also contaminate the water around fracking sites, further
polluting the environment and causing a swifter dwindle of the Earth’s water supply.
According to Environment America, fracking operations have used at least 250 billion
gallons of water since 2005. Once the water is contaminated with chemicals, it is
considered toxic and can no longer be used, therefore hurting America’s water supply and
ruining billions of gallons of clean water.
Fracking is being conducted around the country in states such as West Virginia,
Pennsylvania, North Dakota, and Texas. Nationally fracking has released 450,000 tons of
pollutants into the air according to Environment America. Fracking also contributes to
“smog” and has been linked to cancer and other serious health issues.
Aside from polluting the air, fracking has also destroyed hundreds of thousands of acres
of land in The US, which not only decimated areas for farming, but also destroys the
natural habitats of certain animals.
As written in The New York Times, fracking aided in lifting up the depressed
communities on the New York/Pennsylvania border that were suffering economically,
but the health risk is seemingly too high to continue to frack.
While fracking has its benefits, such as bringing down gas prices because of how readily
available it can make hard to reach oil and gas, it is overwhelmingly clear that its health
effects can be damaging.
New York’s state health commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker, conducted a thorough health
study that found “significant public health risks” could be associated with fracking. Dr.
Zucker also asserted that there is “insufficient scientific evidence to affirm fracking.”
While the economic benefits of fracking seem great, the health effects clearly outweigh
those benefits, making the banning of fracking in New York a sure victory, not only for
its current generations, but future generations as well.