How New York Stopped Shale Fracking

Anthony Ingraffea is a Cornell professor who has been immersed in the science, politics and resistance to the development of oil and gas from shale in New York State for five years. After a long grassroots battle, New Yorkers have succeeded in achieving a five-year moratorium, and Governor Andrew Cuomo has promised he will make a decision on permits based on studies yet to be completed. Over 100,000 Californians already have signed a petition against such fracking.

Tom Hayden: What conclusions did you draw about framing the issue? Why did you decide it is not about “fracking” per se?

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Tell us about the political strategy.

AI: See above, but also: NYS is a home rule state. Excellent attorneys scoured the state to encourage the use of zoning to zone out heavy industrial activity where it does not belong. Two landmark cases were won in State Supreme Court in year 5 that confirm that towns have the legal authority to do so. Many towns and municipalities are now protected or staging for protection: 209 Communities Protected, (48 of these are in the NYC/Syracuse Watersheds), 91 Municipalities Staging for Passage of Draft Legislation – 300 Municipalities as of 6/12/13.

TH: What has been the outcome and where are you now?

AI: NY State has been in an effective moratorium against shale gas development (not against fracking which still continues in the state in non-shale formations) for nearly 5 years. It is the Governor’s decision to make whether to allow permitting. But he has no SGEIS, no regulations, and no health study completed. His latest public statement is that he will make a decision before next year’s election. 

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