Taking more than six years to produce, New York's long-awaited, "massive" assessment on the local impacts of fracking concludes that uncertainty over its adverse environmental and public health consequences has "grown worse over time." Local leaders throughout the country would be well-served to fully understand the grave significance of these findings, which formed the basis for Governor Andrew Cuomo's 2014 decision to ban fracking in New York state.
Both state regulators and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences have revealed documented cases of drinking water contamination from fracking, where chemicals used in fracking fluids, as well as methane, have been found in household drinking water. Major studies have also begun to identify the leakage rates of methane into the air we breath -- significant in that this pollutant may erase any climate benefit of using natural gas.
While New York has taken the lead as the first state with substantial natural gas reserves to ban fracking, other states and regions can benefit by applying its extensive research to the protection of the water, air, and health of their own communities.
New York issued its long-awaited environmental assessment of frackingWednesday detailing a wide range of health and climate concerns that underpinned Governor Andrew Cuomo's decision last December to impose a statewide ban on the practice.
High-volume hydraulic fracturing "raises new, significant, adverse impacts not studied" in the state's last major analysis of oil and gas development in 1992, the 2,000-page report concludes. The negative effects that fracking could bring to the state include:
— Air impacts that could affect respiratory health due to increased levels of particulate matter, diesel exhaust or volatile organic chemicals.
— Climate change impacts due to methane and other volatile organic chemical released into the atmosphere.
— Drinking water impacts from underground migration of methane and/or fracturing fluid chemicals associated with faulty well construction or seismic activity.
— Surface spills potentially resulting in soil, groundwater and surface water contamination.
— Surface water contamination resulting from inadequate wastewater treatment.
— Earthquakes and creation of fissures induced during the hydraulic fracturing stage.
— Community impacts such as increased vehicle traffic, road damage, noise, odor complaints,and increased local demand for housing and medical care.
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