THE BLOG

Fracking: Ban It

02/03/2012 03:13 pm ET | Updated Apr 04, 2012

New York's Governor Cuomo and DEC Commissioner Martens should be commended for their deliberative efforts to regulate high volume hydraulic fracturing (fracking) thus far in our state, but the time has come for both men to lead.

Fracking in its current form shouldn't be permitted, and nibbling around its edges won't change that -- as evidence of its unintended consequences grow, so do the uncertainties in our ability to prevent them.

Whether it's the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's recent findings linking it to groundwater contamination, the inadequate accounting of its costs, or the absence of a framework to adequately indemnify those adversely affected, fracking's risks to the public remain too high -- and as if that isn't enough, add to this list the specter of earthquakes.

Squishy slogans like "it's safe" won't ensure safety, and injecting known carcinogens and other toxic compounds into the ground (and their inefficient recovery) isn't compatible with prosperity -- if by prosperity we mean living for something more than today.

All ventures present risks; misadventures aren't worth taking.

Continuing to revise DEC's Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement under the pretext that fracking will eventually be permitted here is no longer tenable -- that peg no longer fits the hole, assuming it ever did.

If there is to be more revision it must now proceed under a very different guiding principle, one that bears the heavier burden of demonstrable proof -- that fracking in its current form is even capable of paying for itself.

Fidelity to that principle requires that people and communities won't be treated as some business expense, to be written off for shareholders at the annual stockholder's meeting. It requires that people are adequately protected in the way that decent people understand.

But "adequately protected" is squishy too, yet a solid foundation from our DEC is nearby:

In no event shall the State of New York, its agencies or authorities, employees, officers or agents be liable for any direct, indirect, punitive, incidental, special, or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever including, without limitation, damages for loss of use, data, or profits, arising out of or in any way connected with the use or performance of this web site, or for any information, software, products, services, or graphics obtained through this web site, or otherwise arising out of the use of this web site, whether based on contract, tort, strict liability, or otherwise, even if the State of New York, its agencies or authorities, employees, officers or agents have been advised of the possibility of damages.

A modest revision would be a good start:

In no event shall the State of New York, gas companies, their agencies or authorities, employees, officers or agents avoid liability for any direct, indirect, punitive, incidental, special, or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever including, without limitation, damages for loss of use of property or to the health of family members, arising out of or in any way connected with High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing, regardless of any arrangements the State of New York, gas companies or their agencies or authorities, employees, officers or agents may have already made or may attempt to make otherwise.