NY Gov. Cuomo Signals Fracking Issue is “How” and Not “If”

Finally some good news for New York landowners who want shale gas drilling to go forward in the state. Lately, it’s seemed as if New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was backing off his support for shale gas drilling. He elected to not even mention it in this year’s State of the State address, even though there was a section about it in his prepared remarks (see this MDN story). Then he made a comment about the status of the review process and making on determination on whether drilling will even be allowed (see this MDN story). And then a comment to a Syracuse newspaper editorial board about a decision coming “in a few months” on fracking (see this MDN story), the implied meaning was whether or not it would be allowed at all.

Add it all up and it certainly appeared that Gov. Cuomo was stepping back from his earlier support of drilling. But Andrew Cuomo is the consummate politician and perhaps that was all smokescreen. Last Friday, in a radio interview, he all but said fracking will go forward in the state, it’s just a matter of how and when it will happen, not if.

“I don’t think the question was, ‘Should we develop natural gas?’ ” Cuomo said on Albany’s Talk 1300 AM radio yesterday. “The question is the protections, and how, and the regulations, and that’s what DEC [the Department of Environmental Conservation] is working through.”

Environmental groups that oppose drilling into upstate’s Marcellus Shale with a high-pressure chemical-and-water mix reacted warily.

“If he is saying they have already prejudged the decision and they are just figuring out the fine points, Riverkeeper will be very disappointed, and I’m sure other groups will as well,” said program director Kate Hudson. “We are hopeful that what he means is . . . they are still working on collecting facts.”

Cuomo spokesman Josh Vlasto said no fracking determinations have been made and “we are still doing the analysis.”

But Cuomo yesterday called natural gas “a great resource. It helps this country. It helps the economy in many different ways.”*

*New York Post (Mar 3, 2012) – Gov hits gas on drilling plan