Shift by Cuomo on Gas Drilling Prompts Both Anger and Praise

Shift by Cuomo on Gas Drilling Prompts Both Anger and Praise by Nathaniel Brooks, September 30, 2012, The New York Times
ALBANY — A few months after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo was poised to approve hydraulic fracturing in several struggling New York counties, his administration is reversing course and starting the regulatory process over, garnering praise from environmental groups and stirring anger among industry executives and upstate landowners. The administration of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is restarting the regulatory process of hydrofracking from the beginning. Ten days ago, after nearly four years of review by state regulators, the governor bowed to entreaties from environmentalists to conduct another study, this one an examination of potential impacts on public health. Neither the governor nor other state officials have given any indication of how long the study might take. Then on Friday, state environmental officials said they would restart the regulatory rule-making process, requiring them to repeat a number of formal steps, including holding a public hearing, and almost certainly pushing a decision into next year. The move also means that after already receiving nearly 80,000 public comments, the state Department of Environmental Conservation will be soliciting more input from New Yorkers about hydrofracking, or fracking, as the drilling process for natural gas is known. The developments have created a sense in Albany that Mr. Cuomo is consigning fracking to oblivion. … The governor has also said that he sees the additional health study as a way to mitigate future lawsuits. Katherine Nadeau, a program director at Environmental Advocates of New York, said talk of an end to fracking was premature. “From what I can tell, it doesn’t seem to me that the administration is necessarily backing off, but they are listening to the enormous public concern and outcry and making sure to take this incredibly slowly,” she said. … Joseph Martens, the agency’s commissioner, said last week: “Obviously if there was a public health concern that could not be addressed we would not proceed.”

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