Cuomo: Hydrofracking review “will be done shortly”

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During the first stop of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s radio tour today, the Democrat was asked about the state’s ongoing review of high-volume hydraulic fracturing, and when it may wrap up.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation first launched its review in July 2008, and all high-volume hydrofracking permits have been on hold since. It released draft permitting guidelines in 2009 and 2011, and Cuomo signaled that a final version is likely soon on its way.

“We don’t have a hard date, but it will be done shortly,” Cuomo told host Fred Dicker on 1300-AM (WGDJ) in Albany.

Cuomo said he believes it’s beneficial to make a final determination on hydrofracking when lawmakers aren’t at the Capitol. The 2012 legislative session just wrapped up yesterday, and lawmakers aren’t scheduled to return until 2013 (though many expect to return before then.)

“I think it’s actually better that we do it when the Legislature is not here, because I don’t want a political discussion,” Cuomo said. “You have enough emotion around this issue already. You have emotion on both sides, you have emotion that is at such a level in some ways it’s governing the conversation.

He continued: “I want to get the conversation back to facts and logic and science and information, and reduce the temperature of the conversation, pardon the pun.”

A DEC official floated a potential plan to The New York Times last week, which would allow a limited number of hydrofracking permits in five counties near the Pennsylvania border: Broome, Tioga, Chenango, Chemung and Steuben.

In addition, the municipalities would have to signal their OK before a gas well would be drilled there.

Dicker asked Cuomo about the various bans and moratoriums that have been passed by more than 100 towns in New York, mostly in the Finger Lakes region and not in the five-county zone.

“This is the classic balance of the state’s role versus local government’s role versus federal,” Cuomo said. “And many times the state takes the position of, ‘Thank you federal government for your opinion, but we’re going to do it our way.’ Many times a town or a city will say, ‘That’s nice, I’m glad you think that Albany, but stick to Albany, we know better. Government closest to home knows the best.’”

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