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Mixed Emotions After Fracking Decision

12/17/14

NEW YORK STATE (WENY) - Deep shale hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus Shale has been a topic that's divided opinions across the state.

And after years of controversy, protesting, and countless studies, New York State finally gave us an answer on fracking.

Early next year, Governor Cuomo's administration will move to prohibit fracking in the state, which has been on moratorium since 2008.

A few of the big reasons include unresolved health issues and questionable economic benefits.

Cuomo said he is deferring to Enviornmental Commissioner Joe Martens and Acting Health Commissioner Howard Zucker in making the decision. Martens said he recommends a ban.

On Wednesday, Martens and Zucker summarized the findings of their enviornmental and health reviews. They said shale gas development using high-volume hydraulic fracturing carried unacceptable risks that haven't been sufficiently studied.

The Department of Enviornmental Conservation will put out a final environmental impact statement early next year, and then issue an order prohibiting fracking.

The decision was good news for long-time opponents of the controversial topic, but many believe it robs people and the area of economic opportunities.

For New York farmers, the possibility of freacking meant profits.

Many farmers across the state leased their land, or allowed for mineral rights, hoping one day fracking would be allowed....and now that day won't come any time soon.

Ashur Terwilliger, President of the Chemung County Farm Bureau says although he had the opportunity to lease his land, he never did because the deal wasn't right. But he said, the profits would have been helpful with keeping his local farm in business and passing it on to his grandchildren in the future. For those who did sign leases, the next step is still unknown.

But Terwilliger said the benefits of fracking in the state would have gone beyond just the farmers - it would help the entire area.

And the county agrees. Chemung County Executive Tom Santulli said being on the border of Pennsylvania, the county has seen slight benefits. But they were ready for more.

"It certainly doesn't help the investment of jobs here in New York," Santulli said, "But again the governor's made a decision and that's it."

On the other hand, those who strongly oppose fracking were thrilled with today's decision because the possible health hazards were bigger than the economic benefits.

Walter Hang, the President of Toxics Targeting, said today's decision was an unbelievable victory.

"I think they've made a clear decision that the environmental and public health hazards of shale fracking can not be managed," Hang said. "They're not even known in their entirety, and so they've made a very historic decision to proceed cautiously, and because they don't know it can be done safely they're simply not going to allow it anywhere in New York."