A quick update on the issue of hydraulic fracturing in New York state.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has been delaying his decision for some time now – a moratorium has been in place since 2010 on all fracking activities – and there was speculation that a decision would be made around Labor Day. That was September 3rd, and it is now October 1st.
The latest “news” is rather uneventful: after some contention about whether there ought to to be further scrutiny concerning the NYDEC internal health review on fracking, Cuomo doesn’t think any additional help is needed.
With little official word thus far, other than repeating of the familiar remark that there is “no immediate pressure” in making a decision, curiosity lingers, and some hope grows. For those who pushing for a statewide ban on the controversial method of extracting natural gas, the delay is seen as progress, or even a sign of victory. A collection of statewide officials has come together against fracking, and yet another collection of officials are there to urge its development.
While most of the public demonstrations have occurred in the areas that would be directly affected by fracking processes (with notable activities in the state capital of Albany and a blockade of the Schulmberger plant), much of the pro-fracking support comes from downstate New Yorkers in the New York City area. The end result, however, is a somewhat split New York opinion.
Many have voiced a lack of faith concerning the New York State Deptartment of Environmental Conservation and their interactions with the gas industry. But the International Energy Agency maintains that “legitimate public concerns over fracking must be addressed” in order for the best outcomes of shale gas development to be possible.
What will be the outcome from all of this?
No one knows. Speaking personally, I’m somewhat surprised in the delay, and that there hasn’t been an green-light given to fracking yet. Perhaps Cuomo is waiting, or will wait further, because of the upcoming general election this November. With Senate and Congressional (no less Presidential) seats up for grabs, perhaps the most politically safe move at this time would be to wait further. Indeed, talk of energy, and especially hydraulic fracturing, has died down – outside of the bombardment of industry ads on TV in favor of fracking. Adding a decision like this to the mix now, with presidential and VP debates coming in October, it might be an awkward time to re-introduce fracking.
There is growing talk of Governor Cuomo as a candidate for President in 2016, and while those notions are still far off, it would be savvy to get more information on what the country might prefer in four years time: northeastern democratic governor who stood strong against fracking, or, an economically hip democrat who sees fracking as the way to boosting the economy. Either way, I would agree with Cuomo that there is no ‘immediate pressure’, at least on his part. For someone as well-liked as he is – rare for politicians – I’m sure Cuomo realizes the gravity that his decision will have on the future of New York, and potentially the national political picture in the future.
What is most easily overlooked, however, is how much New York’s decision on fracking will impact global perception on developing unconventional natural gas around the world.
- Jesse Parent | 1 OCT 2012