New York State Fracking Ban Changes Little

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by Eric Ellman

Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy Associate Director Josh Galperin was as surprised as any by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s announcement this week to ban fracking in New York State.  But the new reality made sense to him fast enough.  “There’s been a de facto ban for a number of years anyway,” he reasoned, “making it official sends a message that the oil and gas lobby has less influence than many thought.”

But while environmentalists cheer that New York’s southern tier will not become an “energy colony,” the gas and oil industry shrugs.  Experts question the resource potential of New York’s Marcellus Shale.   Declining gas prices simplify Cuomo’s quandary.  But while the ban may have settled the most contentious question in New York’s energy space, it did so for New Yorkers alone.

“If you’re an environmentalist, this is not ‘victory over fracking,’” says Galperin.  “And if you’re in the industry, this is not the end of the game.” 

Indeed, every other state with shale gas potential, and hundreds of communities within those states, still struggle with the issue. 

“Not all of them want to ban fracking, but all of them want to see it managed safely,” says Galperin.

With such communities in mind, Galperin and Pace Law School’s Land Use Law Center, with support from YCEI, are developing a compendium of best practices, model ordinances and trainings to help community leaders from around the nation assure that if fracking proceeds where they live, it does so in accordance with locally determined limits.

After two Local Governance Gap workshops at Pace and Yale, the program is now developing case studies and other regulatory resources to help empower local leaders beyond New York State, where communities are still weighing the merits of hydraulic fracturing and deciding how to govern the practice within their borders.  To learn more about the evolving efforts of small communities to manage gas shale development in their midst, visit the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy website here.

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