New York state bans fracking

Protesters demonstrate against fracking, as New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo takes part in a book signing promoting his new book, All Things Possible, in New York Oct 15, 2014. Cuomo said Wednesday he would ban hydraulic fracking in New York Stat
Protesters demonstrate against fracking, as New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo takes part in a book signing promoting his new book, All Things Possible, in New York Oct 15, 2014. Cuomo said Wednesday he would ban hydraulic fracking in New York State, citing health concerns about the controversial oil and gas drilling technique. -- PHOTO:  REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - Governor Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday he would ban hydraulic fracking in New York State, citing health concerns about the controversial oil and gas drilling technique.

The announcement extends a de facto New York ban on the practice, which offers the potential to unlock vast quantities of natural gas but which has come under intense scrutiny from environmentalists.

The energy industry complains that New York has lost jobs and investment by not following neighbouring states by drilling into Marcellus, a huge shale rock formation in the eastern US.

But Cuomo's announcement was welcomed by environmental groups.

"Mounting scientific evidence points to serious health risks from fracking operations," said Kate Sinding, deputy director of the New York programme at the Natural Resources Defence Council.

"With this announcement, the governor has listened... demonstrating both courage and national leadership on this critical issue," she added.

Some US states and other countries have moved to ban certain types of fracking, although the industry contends the techniques have been in use for decades and are safe.

Hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" allows high-pressure injections of water, sand and chemicals to blast through rock to release oil and gas trapped inside, which has boosted US oil production.