New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s decision to ban fracking in the state provides powerful ammunition for others around the country who are opposed to the issue, says NYIT Environmental Technology Associate Professor Sarah Meyland of NYIT’s Center for Water Resource Management.
“It was a really good thing for him to do, but I was surprised at the announcement,” Meyland said. “It is important that he made the decision on the basis of health and environmental issues. It strengthens the whole argument around the country that fracking is a health problem as well as an environmental concern.”
Meyland is available for interviews about hydraulic fracturing and the state's ban.
Many state residents wanted a ban but “they weren’t able to mount a strong case” against fracking, but Meyland says those who oppose fracking because of its effects on climate issues now have the NY decision to help bolster their own opposition.
“Fracking will prolong our dependence on fossil fuel,” says Meyland. “I don’t think the world can afford that.”
Meyland’s opposition also stems from environmental effects of fracking. “There’s no solution for the safe disposal of fracking waste,” she says.
Each fracking company has a proprietary blend of chemicals used in the fracking process, and many of the chemicals contain known carcinogens, says Meyland. The chemicals help dissolve rocky materials so natural gas can be more easily released.
Sometimes, companies re-inject the waste material back into the earth or dispose of the chemicals in nearby streams.
“And when you dig these wells and extract the gas, a lot of methane leaks out in the atmosphere and can also get into the shallower aquifers,” says Meyland. “Generally, these operations end up polluting the areas around the fracking activities.”