You’ve no doubt noticed the raft of major plans which the lame duck President has suddenly decided to put in place now that the election is over. There’s a method to that madness, and it doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure it out. But Barack Obama isn’t the only chief executive taking advantage of the safety of the post-election period to make sweeping and widely unpopular moves. After years of torturous debate and political doublespeak, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has given in to the liberal, environmentalist wing of his party and decided to impose a “permanent” ban on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for gas and oil in the Empire State.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration said Wednesday it would prohibit hydraulic fracturing statewide, citing health concerns and calling the economic benefits to drilling there limited.

“I cannot support high-volume hydraulic fracturing in the great state of New York,” acting health commissioner Howard Zucker said, adding that he wouldn’t allow his own children to live near a fracking site. He said the “cumulative concerns” about fracking “give me reason to pause.”

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will issue a legally-binding recommendation prohibiting fracking as a result of Mr. Zucker’s recommendation.

The Governor, in a truly hilarious fashion, still lacked the intestinal fortitude and take responsibility for his decision, acting as if his lackeys had been in control all along.

Mr. Cuomo himself said the decision was made by his commissioners, not him. “I don’t think I even have a role here,” he said at a news conference.

He was referring primarily to Joe Martens, the state environment commissioner. Both of them are dancing on thin ice in attempting to make this announcement even remotely plausible. Both Cuomo and his predecessor, David Paterson, were under tremendous pressure from landowners living on the Marcellus Shale to approve the start of work, as well as the green, liberal lobby to ban it. They commissioned a study of the process which, along with several others, kept coming back and finding that fracking was safe. Never ones to allow a little thing like science slow them down, the administration created and then kept extending a moratorium on the process while they considered it further.

In the end – and this is the really side splitting part – the commissioner had come up with his own set of restrictions saying that if fracking was to be done, it would have to be limited to certain areas of the upstate region. It cut out huge sections of land. Then, when the time came for this announcement to be prepared, Martens declared that the economic benefits wouldn’t make it worth the risk since there wouldn’t be that many places you could drill anyway.

New York’s environment commissioner, Joe Martens, said his agency’s concerns about the impact of fracking would so limit the area that could be drilled in the 12 million-acre Marcellus Shale that the economic benefits of drilling there would be limited.

“The economic benefits [of fracking] are clearly far lower than originally forecast,” Mr. Martens said.

Did you catch that? People asked for permits to take advantage of the economic benefits. Martens reduced the amount of land where he would allow fracking so severely that the economic benefit would be decimated. And then he came out and said part of the reason for banning it was that the economic benefit would be far lower than originally forecast.

It boggles the mind.

Meanwhile, thousands of families in upstate New York who have invested years of their time and untold amounts of money in attempting to make their gas leases productive are now entirely shut out. Congratulations, New York. You keep electing these Democrats over and over again only to watch them drive jobs and families out of the state. I imagine we will only need another decade or two before a census gives us fewer seats in the House of Representatives than New Jersey. Well done.