In 2015, New York State passed legislation banning the use of high volume hydraulic fracturing in the State. This was a major milestone in the US.
New York is the fourth most populated State in the USA with 19,795,000 inhabitants and New York City is the 2nd largest urban area in the world. However, New York State is not only an urban area, but the main part of it is also the countryside with farms and forests.
A huge population like in New York State needs a huge supply of energy and an effective electricity network. New York City is called the “city that never sleeps”, in other words, needs a constant source of energy.
Shale Gas situation
A major part of New York State is covered by Marcellus Shale, the largest shale gas reserve in the United States. Fracking activities could affect the groundwater supply that serves the 19 million people in New York City.
The first anti-fracking campaign came from populations living in the Marcellus Shale area. Some municipalities decided to adopt a local ban on hydraulic fracturing on their territories. In response to these local concerns, in December 2010 the Governor of New York State imposed a moratorium on horizontal fracking – but not vertical – and the successor of the Governor prolonged the moratorium.
Hydrocarbon activity is regulated by a rule called “Generic Environment Impact Statement on the Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Regulatory Program” (GEIS) and at the time, fracking was not included in this text. The Governor initiated two public consultations.
Finally, in December 2014 the Departments of Health and Environment published a report that recommended a prohibition on fracking. Governor Cuomo supported them and in June 2015, a new version of GEIS was adopted, introducing the banning of high-volume hydraulic fracturing (more than 300,000 gallons of waters used in a well).
In June 30th 2014, the Court of Appeals, the highest court of the State, upheld the right for a municipality to choose to ban fracking.
Pro-environment movements born from the anti-fracking campaign have not disappeared. They now oppose a new project of a long gas pipeline that will cross the USA and cut through New York State. In April 2016, the Cuomo administration said that the “pipeline doesn’t comply with state’s water quality standards”.