Frack Target: Marcellus Shale
Water Resources at Stake: Hudson River, Finger Lakes, Skaneateles Lake and New York City watersheds
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Department of Environmental Conservation concluded in 2014 that the health risks of fracking are too great, and it would not permit the controversial practice to move forward in the state. The decision made New York the first state with proven oil and gas reserves to announce that it will ban fracking. The statewide ban on fracking was made official on June 29, 2015, with the release of a 43-page findings statement that outlined the specific parameters of the state’s ban.
Key building blocks of New York’s statewide ban were the 80 local bans that communities across New York have passed—products of the legal strategy hatched by Helen Slottje, recipient of the Goldman Environmental Prize for her and her husband David’s work. Earthjustice Managing Attorney Deborah Goldberg also defended the rights of those communities in a precedent-setting legal victory, something state officials highlighted as a tipping point in their decision to ban fracking:
In a comprehensive document known as the final Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement, released in May 2015, the state Department of Environmental Conservation detailed the health and environmental impacts associated with fracking, in which gas drillers blast millions of gallons of water mixed with toxic chemicals into the ground to extract gas from hard-to-reach deposits deep in the earth, and concluded the practice is too dangerous to proceed in New York.
What's Happening Now
Today, many in the state who fought fracking continue their work towards the greater goal: speeding the transition to communities powered by 100 percent renewable energy. They include anti-fracking leaders in Tompkins County, who connected the dots between the ills of fracking and the global climate crisis brought on by the continued mining and burning of fossil fuels, and have launched the initiative Fossil Free Tompkins.
The community members of Fossil Free Tompkins are working to ensure that their neighbors and the community-at-large that has been economically dependent on the fossil fuel industry are made whole again—a principle referred to as a “just transition.” Learn more about what fractivism 2.0 looks like.
Below are some of the high profile incidents ("fraccidents") related to the country's gas drilling boom that have occurred near New York. Click on any fraccident to learn more.