Fracking ban the right economic, environmental and health decision

Three Cornell University experts comment on the announcement today by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration to ban hydraulic fracturing in New York state.


Susan Christopherson is a professor and chair of the City and Regional Planning at Cornell University and an economic geographer. Her research and teaching focuses on economic development and she has produced a series of articles, book chapters and policy briefs on shale gas and oil development. She was a member of The National Academy of Sciences panel on Risks and Risk Governance in Shale Gas Development


“I think the governor weighed the politics and economics as well as the science. The Southern Tier of New York benefits economically from the fracking in Northern Pennsylvania and will continue to do so, but New York’s own fast growing tourism and wine industries may be damaged by the industrialization that comes with fracking.

“Fracking does not create many permanent jobs and the costs, in maintaining roads and in administration and monitoring, may outweigh the tax benefits. I think he weighed the pros and cons and determined that fracking is not a good deal for New York. Now, New York’s deliberative process and citizen action are a model for addressing fracking internationally.”

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Robert Howarth, is a greenhouse gas expert and an ecology and environmental biology professor in Cornell’s College of Agriculture of Life Sciences. His research focuses on environmental consequences of biofuels, the role of trace gases in global warming and climate disruption, and life-cycle analysis for greenhouse-gas footprint of energy technologies. He has also authored several papers on the fracking.


“Only in the past 10 years has technology — the combined use of high-volume hydraulic fracturing and high-precision directional drilling — made it possible to extract methane gas from shale formations. Over the past 5 years, this has led to a boom in shale gas development, but almost from the start, there have been some warning signs and concerns of large environmental and public health effects. The scientific community has done a remarkable job of documenting these effects over the past 3 to 4 years.

“The unmistakable conclusion is that shale gas development poses unacceptable risks to the climate and to individuals living near shale gas fields. While too many political leaders have continued to ignore this evidence, New Yorkers can be proud of our Governor.

“In banning shale gas from our state, Governor Cuomo has based his decision on science and the interests of the public.”


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Anthony Ingraffea, professor in Cornell’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, has studied fracking since 1982 and co-authored a study warning that extracting natural gas could do more to aggravate global warming than mining coal.


“I never lost confidence in Governor Cuomo. Add a chapter to ‘Profiles in Courage’ for him. And I never lost confidence that the prowess of my health professional and science colleagues would reveal shale gas development for what it would have been: a big net loss for the people of New York State.

“If shale gas extraction in a populated place like New York can’t ‘make it there’ maybe it can’t make it anywhere.”

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