Albany Times Union Announces Support for Fracking

for realWhoa, wait a minute. The editorial board of the very liberal Albany Times Union is (gasp) in favor of limited fracking in New York State as a test. Really? Really.

But of course, they condition it all on prior assurances of safety from DEC and EPA, and they want all sorts of ands, ifs and buts inserted to conduct such a test.

Here’s what they said in a recent editorial (and below, why this is politically significant):

If the DEC concludes that drilling can be done safely in New York — and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which is also looking at fracking, concurs — it would be reasonable to test that conclusion with a limited program, one that is entirely transparent.

There should be thorough air, water and soil tests before, during and after the test. There should be health assessments. The public should know what goes into the ground, what comes out of it, what stays below, and the full details of any mishaps. It should be able to see every permit and inspection report. Such information should not be shielded behind claims of trade secrets. This is an experiment of keen public interest.

Such a pilot program should be scaled to the ability of the DEC to monitor it and of local emergency services to respond to a spill, explosion or other disaster.

The full public costs, routine and otherwise, should tallied.

The industry should be on the hook for any damage it causes. New Yorkers well know how taxpayers, not polluters, tend to end up with the tab.

And drillers, the state and the public should all be clear that this is a test, not just some motion that New York is going through before automatically opening the gates to thousands of more wells. A thorough analysis may find that even tighter regulations and big fees or taxes are needed. It might find that fracking poses unacceptable risks.*

MDN, and we suspect most landowners who are pro-drilling, would agree with the Times Union editorial board on this one. If this is what it will take to finally allay the fears that have been stirred up by Toxics Targeting, Catskill Mountainkeeper, the Sierra Club and other anti-drilling groups—let’s do it.

MDN takes the Times Union as a proxy for the left-of-center (but closer to the center) segment of the Democrat party in New York, as opposed to the far left fringe (aforementioned “environmental” groups), so the fact the Times Union is now on board is significant indeed. It shows a movement toward allowing fracking in the state.

*Albany (NY) Times Union (Jun 16, 2012) – Editorial: Safe? Then put fracking to a test