New York’s ongoing debate over hydraulic fracturing has hit something of a standstill in recent weeks. But with the budget season winding down, the fracking discussion will likely be heating up.
Here’s a look at some of today’s developments:
– Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell — a prominent Democrat who was at the helm when the state began permitting high-volume fracking in 2007 and 2008 — penned an op-ed that reads like something of an open letter to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo without directly mentioning his name.
In the Daily News, Rendell makes a case for allowing large-scale fracking in New York.
“That’s why New York’s consideration of hydraulic fracturing is so essential. We’re at an energy crossroads as a nation,” Rendell wrote. “If we choose to embrace natural gas, it will help us get past a number of significant economic and environmental challenges. On the other hand, if we let fear carry the day, we will squander another key moment to move forward together.”
(UPDATED: The Daily News added a disclaimer making clear that Rendell is paid a consulting fee by a company with stakes in gas companies.)
In an appearance on “The Capitol Pressroom,” a public radio program, Cuomo said New York has to make its own decisions.
“I would say, Ed, that was a well-written piece and I understand and appreciate your justification for what you did in the state of Pennsylvania,” Cuomo said. “That is what he did and he was explaining why he did what he did. Different communities, different states have to make their own determination.”
The New York State Petroleum Council touted Rendell’s op-ed, as well as a radio appearance by a Towanda, Pa., hospital administrator. New Yorkers Against Fracking knocked the piece, as well as Rendell’s ties to the gas industry.
(AP file photo)
– A group of fracking critics in the Southern Tier are trying to make sure Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joseph Martens is living up to his promises when it comes to an ongoing health review of fracking.
In a letter sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the activists — led by outspoken Ithaca database specialist Walter Hang — highlighted key phrases from Martens’ 2012 announcement of the health review. In his September statement, Martens said Health Commissioner Nirav Shah had agreed to assess the DEC’s analysis of fracking and ensure it would be adequate to protect public health.
Specifically, they point to Martens saying he wants to make sure the state’s fracking review is the “most thorough review possible, especially when it comes to public health concerns.”
“In reality, the DOH Review has not achieved its goals and is an exercise in futility,” the letter reads. “Commissioner Shah recently testified for the first time that he and three outside experts who were contracted for 25 hours of work merely reviewed the existing Draft SGEIS. That effort is pointless.”
The activists — which includes Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan, a fracking critic — called on the state to undergo a comprehensive health impact analysis, a lengthy study the likes of which Martens had previously rejected. They want a public-comment period and a public scoping document — neither of which have been included as part of Shah’s review — and a fracking decision put on hold until the study is completed.
Here’s the full letter: