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Letter from green groups to Gov. Cuomo: Stand firm and follow the scientific imperative to maintain New York's moratorium on fracking

Dear Governor Cuomo, (cc Shah, Martens)

We, the undersigned environmental organizations and public advocates, urge you to stand firm in maintaining New York State’s de facto moratorium on high-volume hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’). We greatly appreciate that you have been resolute in insisting that science dictates any decisions regarding fracking, and we have faith you will continue to do so.

You recently reiterated this sound approach and noted that you and your administration are doing your best to understand all the facts and that it can be difficult to assemble all available information.1 We appreciate this, particularly given the breadth and significance of new scientific information rapidly emerging in this area. In light of this, we have put together a memorandum that highlights some of the critical new information that has emerged over the past year.

During this period, the body of scientific evidence showing the magnitude of potential risks associated with shale gas extraction via horizontal fracking has grown significantly. As set forth in detail in the attached memorandum, this includes four major categories of new science and case studies that have emerged:

  • Evidence linking water contamination to fracking-related activities has increased.
  • The disposal of fracking wastewater has been causally linked to earthquakes.
  • Air quality impacts from fracking-related activities are clearer than ever. They include evidence of unsafe levels of pollutants such as ozone, benzene, and silica dust - pollutants that are linked to costly, disabling health problems
  • The economic benefits of the fracking boom have been challenged as being over-hyped and short-lived.

The rapid pace and scale of new information that is becoming available on nearly a weekly basis provides a powerful justification for your continued adherence to a cautious approach that puts science first.

Doctors take an oath to “first, do no harm.” By pledging to not allow fracking if it cannot be done safely, you have made a similar vow.

What is clear from the new information highlighted in the attached memorandum – building upon significant prior evidence for harm - is that fracking poses demonstrable threats to water, air, public health, quality of life and the long-term economic health of communities and the state. This developing science compels maintaining New York’s de facto moratorium on fracking so that a final determination whether to move forward at all is based on the very best information. Furthermore, considering all of the scientific evidence about the impacts of fracking, we call for a comprehensive Health Impact Assessment, which we believe is necessary to determine what the public health impacts of fracking would be and to ensure the wellbeing of all New Yorkers. (emphasis added)

Thank you for your continued measured leadership on this issue of utmost importance to New Yorkers and their communities.


Citizens Campaign for the Environment
Environmental Advocates of New York
Frack Action
Natural Resources Defense Council
Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter

1 October 10. Ithaca Journal: Cuomo on fracking review: "I think we're doing a good job on it"