New York’s ban on large-scale hydraulic fracturing is now official.
State Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens issued a 43-page “findings statement” Monday afternoon, putting the state’s promised fracking prohibition into place and giving it the force of law.
The finalization of the ban puts an end to nearly seven years of review by the state Department of Environmental Conservation, over which time fracking has grown to become one of the most hotly contested, divisive issues in the state.
Now, the document will be closely scrutinized by attorneys for the natural-gas industry, who will be looking for any legal missteps that provide an opening for a potential lawsuit.
“In the end, there are no feasible or prudent alternatives that would adequately avoid or minimize adverse environmental impacts and that address the scientific uncertainties and risks to public health from this activity,” according to the findings statement, which is signed by Martens.
The findings statement was posted on the DEC’s website Monday afternoon.
The state first launched its review of fracking in July 2008 after gas companies began applying to drill horizontally into the gas-rich Marcellus Shale formation, which stretches across the state’s Southern Tier into the Catskills.
The review carried over into Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration, with protesters often trailing him at events across the state.
Last December, state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker issued a report raising concerns about the fracking process, which involves the use of water, sand and chemicals blasted into tight underground shale formations.
Earlier this year, the DEC issued its Final Supplemental Generic Environmental Statement, a dense document that outlined its findings.
That led to Monday, when Martens issued the findings statement laying out the ban.
“The Department’s chosen alternative to prohibit high-volume hydraulic fracturing is the best alternative based on the balance between protection of the environment and public health and economic and social considerations,” the findings statement reads.
Here’s the document: