Is Cuomo stalling on declaring fracking safe for New York?

posted at 6:51 pm on January 3, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

Breaking news: The decades-old hydraulic fracturing technique currently being employed across the country to embrace all of the economic advantages offered by our wildly abundant oil and gas resources, can, in fact, be conducted safely and without presenting mega-hazards to either public health or environmental welfare. …Well, that actually isn’t breaking news, but it looks like Governor Cuomo’s administration may be sittin’ pretty on that state-specific information for reasons that are less than purely noble, via the NYT:

The state’s Health Department found in an analysis it prepared early last year that the much-debated drilling technology known as hydrofracking could be conducted safely in New York, according to a copy obtained by The New York Times from an expert who did not believe it should be kept secret.

The analysis and other health assessments have been closely guarded by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and his administration as the governor weighs whether to approve fracking. Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, has long delayed making a decision, unnerved in part by strident opposition on his party’s left. A plan to allow a limited amount of fracking in the state’s Southern Tier along the Pennsylvania border is still seen as the most likely outcome, should the drilling process receive final approval.

The eight-page analysis is a summary of previous research by the state and others, and concludes that fracking can be done safely. It delves into the potential impact of fracking on water resources, on naturally occurring radiological material found in the ground, on air emissions and on “potential socioeconomic and quality-of-life impacts.”

Of course, the greens doth protest, wondering whether the report is thorough enough or actually conducted any of its own original research, or something — but if anything, it looks pretty clear that Cuomo has been on their side throughout the no-fracking-here hoopla. He might say he’s all about the facts and the science and reasonable debate, but…

New York banned high-volume fracking in 2008 pending an analysis of the potential environmental impact. “Let the science dictate the conclusion,” Mr. Cuomo told reporters earlier this year. “We will make a decision based on the facts.” …

According to the Manhattan Institute, lifting the fracking ban in New York could result in $11.4 billion in economic output and $1.4 billion in tax revenues, not to mention 15,000 to 18,000 new jobs. …

But then, Mr. Cuomo isn’t really interested in an assessment of hydrofracking if it doesn’t conclude what his left-wing base wants to hear. For the governor, this is about politics, not science.

That’s too bad, because several other states have been heartily moving forward with hydraulic fracturing, to the tune of tremendous economic benefits (not to mention the United States’ net decrease in carbon emissions!). There is clearly something other than “what’s best for New York” going on here, and I wouldn’t count on fracking getting the full-on green-light there anytime soon.


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