Governor Andrew Cuomo recently decided to ban hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and New York State voters approve of his decision by a margin of 55 to 25 percent.  According to a recent Quinnipiac University poll, no political party, gender, age group, or regional interest group disapproves of the ban against fracking in New York State.

A recent article in Wall Street Journal, however, does not support this decision and stated: “New York’s Governor hides behind bad science and hurts upstate jobs.”  Governor Cuomo’s decision, however, was justified by a report released on December 17, 2014 by the New York State Department of Health. 

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NY DEC) required a review of High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing (HVHF) and the New York State Department of Health (NY DOH) complied.  The NY DOH considered environmental public health factors and community health effects and evaluated emerging scientific information regarding HVHF.

The NY DOH evaluation also considered whether this information was sufficient to understand the extent of potential public health impacts of HVHF in New York State.  In order to do so, they considered the mitigating measures used by other states to determine their efficiency in reducing the chance of HVHF-related adverse public health impacts.

The DOH Acting Commissioner of Health, Howard A. Zucker, M.D., J.D.,

stated: “The overall weight of the evidence from the cumulative body of information contained in this Public Health Review demonstrates that there are significant uncertainties about the kinds of adverse health outcomes that may be associated with HVHF…[U]ntil the science provides sufficient information to determine the level of risk to public health from HVHF to all New Yorkers and whether the risks can be adequately managed, DOH recommends that HVHF should not proceed in NYS.”

Not enough is known at this point about the effects that fracking may have on the health of people living in the area where it is conducted.  For these reasons, it is important that we wait until we know more before we take the risk.