“In the end, there are no feasible or prudent alternatives that would adequately avoid or minimize adverse environmental impacts and that address the scientific uncertainties and risks to public health from this activity. The Department’s chosen alternative to prohibit high-volume hydraulic fracturing is the best alternative based on the balance between protection of the environment and public health and economic and social considerations.”
Beautiful words from DEC Commissioner Joe Martens, on page 42 of his findings statement, which is the legally binding document he promised he would draft last December 17th when Dr. Zucker completed the Public Health Review.
The findings statement is a 43-page document that lays out the history of the nearly seven-year review, and the alternatives considered. The DEC did consider alternatives that would have allowed parts of the state to be fracked, or fracked with different materials, or mitigated in various ways. However, they chose the “No Action” alternative, meaning that HVHF will not proceed.
From page 5 of the statement: “The Department has determined that there are potential significant adverse environmental and public health impacts associated with high-volume hydraulic fracturing operations. Even with the implementation of an extensive suite of mitigation measures considered by the Department and described in these findings, the significant adverse public health and environmental impacts from allowing high-volume hydraulic fracturing to proceed under any scenario cannot be adequately avoided or minimized to the maximum extent practicable in accordance with SEQRA. In addition, as further described below, significant uncertainty remains regarding the level of risk to public health and the environment that would result from permitting high-volume hydraulic fracturing in New York, and regarding the degree of effectiveness of proposed mitigation measures. Consequently, and due to the limited economic and social benefits that would be derived from high-volume hydraulic fracturing, the No-Action alternative is the only reasonable alternative consistent with social, economic and other essential considerations. The Department is therefore selecting the No-Action alternative. These findings will apply statewide.”
This is a victory for all of us who worked so hard to make this happen, for everyone who had been at risk from the potential harms of fracking on their neighbor’s land or via a lease they may have unwittingly agreed to. Of course, all the other harms of fracking remain a risk, especially the pipelines, compressor stations, storage caverns, water withdrawals and other support systems. The same public health concerns that apply to fracking apply to such infrastructure, and we continue to push for a halt to this build out for the same reasons. But right now, along with the other decisions that were achieved last week, this is a moment to celebrate!