On Wednesday, officials in the Cuomo Administration made public their opposition to hydraulic fracturing in New York State. In an open end-of-year cabinet meeting, Acting Commissioner of Health Howard Zucker stated that he “could not support high-volume hydraulic fracturing” in New York.
In his presentation, Zucker made clear that the data on the impact of fracking is not conclusive, but still went forward with his recommendation. It is important that we continue to research and learn about the effects of fracking on the environment and how we in New York State are also trying to encourage alternative energy sources to oil (despite the Hanukkah season).
Next, the state Department of Environmental Conservation will move ahead with their State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR), and according to DEC Commission Joe Martens, that process will be done in the early part of 2015.
These announcements strongly indicate that Governor Andrew Cuomo will fully ban hydrofracking (“a legally binding finding statement prohibiting [High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing]”) in New York State following the completion of the SEQR.
RJV has long advocated for an indefinite moratorium on fracking in New York while more research is being collected and analyzed. We look forward to continued work to more deeply understand the effects of fracking.
The environmental questions posed by hydraulic fracturing present an important challenge: “One generation goes and another generation comes, but the Earth remains forever” (Kohelet 1:4). This lesson from Tanach reminds us of our responsibility to ensure that God’s creation is protected for generations yet to come. Yet, in the context of energy policy, it guides us to take a balanced approach to energy development, one that not only sustainably satisfies current needs but also considers those of future generations. Thus, the Reform Movement has long sought to answer the question of how to use energy wisely, sustainably, and in keeping with our Jewish values.
RJVNYS remains committed to issues of environmental justice and looks forward to the release of the DEC’s SEQR. This announcement from Governor Cuomo today illustrates how important it is for citizens to speak out on critical social justice topics. We hope that this news is not the end but rather part of a continued dialogue on the pros and cons associated with fracking.