Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration is pursuing a plan to limit the controversial drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing to portions of several struggling New York counties along the border with Pennsylvania, and to permit it only in communities that express support for the technology.
Accompanying the article is this map of the areas in which fracking is likely to be allowed — as well as those areas that have barred the practice.
Restrictions on fracking are, of course, generally a good idea. The challenge with Cuomo’s reported proposal stems from this map:
The areas that will be opened to fracking are those areas over the Marcellus shale formation. That makes sense. But unfortunately, they’re also areas of the state with some of the highest rates of poverty.
Yes, fracking will bring the region jobs. That’s why areas on the state’s southern border have explicitly passed legislation allowing fracking, as indicated on the Times’ map. But one of the challenges of the fossil fuel economy is that its facilities, refineries, and extraction points are dirty, messy, and rife with pollution. Such things don’t go in the wealthier parts of town — or, often, the wealthier parts of a state.
One of the promises of a renewable energy economy is breaking the link between poverty and pollution-causing facilities. That’s not going to happen in New York any time soon.