Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s former brother-in-law and has talked to him about the impact of hydrofracking, but Cuomo said Kennedy isn’t swaying him on the controversial issue.
The Associated Press reported that Kennedy, a Westchester resident and president of the Waterkeeper Alliance, influenced Cuomo to back off plans to move forward with limited hydrofracking in the Southern Tier.
“It’s not accurate that we were about to go forward and then there was a discussion with him that changed my mind,” Cuomo told reporters today. “That’s just not accurate.”
Kennedy told Gannett’s Albany Bureau last month that Cuomo is right in taking a deliberate approach on fracking.
Cuomo said his decision on whether to go forward with the drilling practice will be predicated on a health review being done by the state Health Department. The review has been extended, and it led the state to miss a key regulatory deadline on the issue last month.
“That is up to the health commissioner and the DEC commissioner,” Cuomo said. “I’m not doing the study. I’m not doing the report, so it’s up to them.”
Cuomo has faced pressure from environmental groups to hold off on fracking. Landowners and natural-gas companies want Cuomo to let them drill into the gas-rich Marcellus Shale in the Southern Tier.
Cuomo said he has discussed fracking with Kennedy, who opposes it. But Cuomo said he believes his conversations with Kennedy have been consistent with what he has said publicly.
“It sounds like what I said to you nine million times, that this has great possible economic benefit for the state in a part of the state that badly needs jobs,” Cuomo explained. “But we have to make sure it’s safe and there’s no health risk. So that’s my general position.”