A decision on high-volume hydrofracking in New York is “a couple of months” away, Gov. Andrew Cuomo told The Post-Standard’s editorial board today.
Cuomo met with the newspaper for about an hour today after he delivered his budget address in Syracuse. He offered his most extensive comments to date on the technique used with gas drilling, saying a decision on whether to move forward with hydrofracking will be “months” away.
(His hydrofracking comments start around the 30 minute mark of the audio clip at the link above.)
“We’re going to have a decision in a couple of months,” Cuomo said. “The debate has been going on for years, by the way, so it’s not like a few weeks this way or the other is going to make a significant difference.”
The governor’s remarks aren’t inconsistent with those made yesterday by Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens, who told a panel of lawmakers a decision was “months, not years” away.
The DEC is in the process of reviewing some 60,000 comments it received on its proposed permitting guidelines for hydrofracking, a technique used in tandem with gas drilling in which a mix of water, sand and chemicals is blasted deep underground to unlock gas from shale formations.
Cuomo said he consciously slowed down the DEC’s review process of the much-debated technique to allow the agency to collect facts and sift through the “emotion” and “fear.” Those in favor of hydrofracking say it would create an economic boom for the deprived Southern Tier; those against say it could have a considerable negative impact on the environment.
“What I have said consistently is there is a lot of emotion on this topic. A lot of emotion, a phenomenal amount of emotion everywhere,” Cuomo said. “Not a lot of facts, but a lot of emotion on both sides—pro or con.
“I purposely said, let’s slow it down and let’s get some information and science and facts, and let’s make the decision on the facts rather than the emotion.
Cuomo said he’s not concerned that gas drillers will shun the state if the delay in issuing permits stretches on. High-volume hydrofracking has been on hold in New York since the DEC’s review was launched in 2008.
“Oh no, they will come. They will come,” Cuomo said. “I’m not going to apologize for an intelligent decision-making process.”