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After health review, NY Department of Health commissioner declares he wouldn’t want his children to live near fracking; DEC Commissioner says risks outweigh any benefit

Today New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joseph Martens, and Department of Health Commissioner (DOH) Howard Zucker announced that the state of New York would prohibit high-volume horizontal fracturing of shale after announcing the results of a state-commissioned scientific review of the health impacts of oil and gas development.

“Would I let my child play in a school field near [fracking]?,” asked Health Commissioner Zucker. He continued, “The answer is no.”

In response, Governor Cuomo said, “If you wouldn’t want your children to live near fracking, no one’s children should have to.”

The DEC will include those findings in its own long-awaited impacts document, which will be released in early 2015 with a clear recommendation to prohibit fracking in the state.

Reactions from fracking-impacted communities around the country:

New York statements

“New Yorkers are so fortunate to have decision makers who have listened to the public and the emerging science, and are not willing to sacrifice communities, public health, and local and sustainable economies,” says Jill Wiener of Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy and Advisory Council Member for Stop the Frack Attack. “This courageous decision in the face of industry pressure strengthens our resolve to help all our neighbors nationwide who are living with the nightmare of drilling–and who equally deserve protection of their air, water, and health.”

“New Yorkers can rest easier now that the Governor has taken this brave, bold step to protect our children and families from the toxic effects of fracking. Now it’s time for national action to move away from this technology that’s dangerous for our health and bad for the climate, and move towards healthier, renewable energy solutions. Today is a major victory in the movement for safer energy,” said Miller. “Other states should follow New York’s example and join the movement for a clean energy future.” –– Ansje Miller, The Center for Environmental Health’s Eastern States Director

California statements

'Congratulations to all of the hardworking communities and activists that worked to protect New York from the many negative impacts of fracking. Let's hope that California's Governor Brown sees the sanity in Governor Cuomo's decision to ban fracking in New York.' — Paul Ferrazzi, executive director from Citizens Coalition for Safe Community, and Advisory Council Member for Stop the Frack Attack.

“We are thrilled and excited for the win in New York. This is a bold action on fracking, a practice we know well in here California, particularly in the Central Valley. It is damaging and putting residents at risk here. We look to Governor Brown to protect our schools, farms, families, and communities the same way the New York Governor Cuomo has protected the people of NY. Its important to know that 354,000 CA public school students are exposed to the impacts of fracking everyday and this is something NY students will never have to know.” — Madeline Stano, staff attorney for Center on Race Poverty and the Environment

Colorado statement

'The only path forward regarding fracking industry operations should be to exercise the precautionary principle. It is very clear the fracking industry and the oil and gas regulatory state preemption framework does not conduct itself in a manner consistent with public health safety and welfare.' — Shane Davis, Executive Director, Fractivist.org and Advisory Council Member for Stop the Frack Attack

Iowa Statement

“This important decision by Gov. Cuomo not to frack New York sends a strong message nationally and ultimately saves our silica deposits from being mined for frac sand. Each fracked well can use 10,000 tons of silica. We don't want to send our sand and by New York saying no to fracking, our beautiful Driftless Area in Iowa may be spared. Thank you New York!”— Robert Nehman, Allamakee County Protectors

Pennsylvania statements

The news couldn't be more welcome, it's a good sized shot of hope in the arm for the rest of us in the sacrifice zones . It can be done, sanity and reason and science prevailed! I look forward to the day that we are doing the same celebration in Pennsylvania.” — Jenny Lisak, Pennsylvania Alliance for Clean Air and Water (PACWA)

“Given what the New York State Department of Health (NYDOH) has concluded, that 'the risks are too great' to allow fracking, we should ask for a point-by-point response to the NYDOH health impact analysis from Pennsylvania's Gov-elect Tom Wolf. He needs to talk immediately to the NY DOH people. If the public health risks are too great in NY, then why are they not too great in PA?” — Stephen Cleghorn, owner of Paradise Gardens and Farm and former Advisory Council Member for Stop the Frack Attack

“New York's decision will prevent even more people and communities from being harmed,” says Rebecca Roter, Pennsylvania resident and founder of Breathe Easy Susquehanna County. “Elected officials everywhere should also pay attention to the science, exercise caution, and hit the pause button on fracking–and make this a victory for the common good as well as New Yorkers.”

Texas statements

'It is really great that after seeing destruction around the country from oil and gas fracking that the people of NY took matters into their own hands to protect themselves from an industry that couldn't care less about their health and welfare.' – Calvin Tillman, former mayor of DISH Texas, coordinator of ShaleTest, and member of Stop the Frack Attack advisory council

“We congratulate New York for reaching the same conclusion through study that Denton residents had to live through to find out,” said Cathy McMullen of the Denton Drilling Awareness Group. DAG was the main group that successfully pushed in this past election the first fracking ban within a Texas city via ballot initiative.  She continued, “We hope that Texas regulators will learn from New York’s example and not block Denton’s ban, or any Texas city that wants to protect its citizens from fracking’s impacts in any way it finds necessary.”

Wyoming statement

“Finally, some politicians and lawmakers have listened to the people and have shown the courage to do what's right. New York is setting an example for the rest of the country and the world can be proud of.” — John Fenton, Pavillion Area Concerned Citizens

Washington, DC/National statements

“In effectively banning fracking, New York’s state regulators confirmed what those living with it for years already know, hydraulic fracturing isn’t safe,” said Earthworks’ Executive Director Jennifer Krill. She continued, “It’s time for President Obama, the EPA, and states across the country to take all possible measures to protect the tens of millions of people living near oil and gas development outside of the State of New York. No one should be made to sacrifice their health for fossil fuel development. The time for clean, renewable energy is now. ”

“Governor Cuomo’s historic decision caps perhaps the most high-profile fracking fight in the nation, and it comes on the heels of other moves to reject dirty drilling across the country. This fall, local communities in California, Texas, Colorado, and Ohio approved measures to block fracking. In Pennsylvania, voters rejected another term for the adamantly pro-fracking Corbett administration. And in just the past few weeks, federal officials have decided to dramatically limit drilling in George Washington National Forest and the Roan Plateau in Colorado. Yet some states are still listening to the power of the oil and gas industry and either hesitating or lurching toward dirty drilling. Governor Cuomo listened to the science and the real data on drilling damage. His final decision to reject fracking and protect health is a wake-up call to the nation.” –John Rumpler, senior attorney for Environment America

“We are thrilled the Cuomo administration has made the right call to ban risky fracking in the state of New York,” said Heather White, the Environmental Working Group’s executive director. “New Yorkers deserve the environmental and public health protections that this ban puts in place. This is a bold and important decision that will set the tone for state governments across the nation.”

“The Sierra Club applauds Governor Cuomo for recognizing what the science has made consistently clear: fracking is a hazard to human health that endangers communities wherever it is allowed. By banning fracking, Governor Cuomo has set himself apart as a national political leader who stands up for people, and not for the interests of the dirty fuel lobby. Today’s decision will shake the foundations of our nation’s flawed energy policy, and we can only expect that it will give strength to activists nationwide who are fighting fracking in dozens of states and hundreds of cities and counties.” — Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune

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