Gov. Andrew Cuomo stressed Thursday that no final decisions have been made on whether to allow gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale, but wouldn’t say whether a report on a potential rollout plan was accurate.
Appearing on WGDJ-AM in Albany, Cuomo was asked about a New York Times report that said his administration was looking at a plan to initially allow hydraulic fracturing in five Southern Tier counties, and only in communities that welcome it. The plan has been in the works for a few months, according to the Times, and Lawmakers and lobbyists have been floating this possibility since April.
“The truth is normally nuanced, and I think that’s what you’re looking at with hydrofracking,” Cuomo said. “First of all, we’ve made no decision on hydrofracking, and I’ve said all along the science is going to dictate.”
Asked again by host Fred Dicker about the reported plan, Cuomo said: “I don’t have a plan, and I want to do the first step first and then I want to address the second.”
Cuomo went on to point out that the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which is in the process of finalizing an extensive environmental and regulatory review of the drilling process, has not made a final determination on the technique. High-volume hydrofracking is on hold in New York until that review—which was launched in 2008—is complete.
The first-term governor said his administration is weighing the issue of “home rule”—the idea of allowing communities to have the final say.
A pair of lawsuits challenging whether municipalities have the right to ban gas drilling in New York are currently in a state appeals court. Judges in a lower court sided with the municipalities.
“Yes, you could override local government,” Cuomo said. “Or, you could say, ‘Well, we’re going to respect home rule if it is coincident with the obvious and necessary ramp up period anyway.’”
Cuomo said a resolution to the hydrofracking debate in New York is not about “threading the needle,” but rather “finding the truth and doing what’s intelligent.”