In Midst of Review, Cuomo Visits Marcellus Shale Country

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With the state potentially in the homestretch of its lengthy review of hydrofracking, Gov. Andrew Cuomo traveled to the heart of the Marcellus Shale for an update on the Southern Tier’s economic-development plan.

And unsurprisingly, Cuomo was met by protesters on both sides of the fractious issue.

Cuomo was asked by reporters in Binghamton about the state of New York’s decision-making process on hydrofracking, a technique in which chemicals, sand and high volumes of water are used to unlock gas from underground shale formations.

“That’s the first question I’ve ever been asked about that,” Cuomo joked when the topic was first broached by a reporter. “Novel.”

Cuomo mainly repeated a similar refrain on fracking, calling for the state’s review to focus on science rather than emotion.

Here’s what he had to say:

“It’s a big decision for the state and obviously there’s a lot of controversy about it and people have very strong feelings on both sides of it. We’re discussing the positives to the economy, the job creation at the same time with possible consequences to the environment.

“It’s a big issue, big decision, big consequences on both sides. We want to make sure that we’re thorough. We want to make sure we have all the facts, we do all the research, and that’s exactly what we’re doing. We have a great team of government professionals, outside experts making sure that we have all the information, all of the facts and then let’s make a decision based on the facts. There’s a lot of emotion — I understand that.

“I’ve heard the emotion from both sides of the argument. Let’s make a decision on the facts, not the emotion, and that’s what we’re going through right now.”

High-volume hydrofracking has been on hold in New York since July 2008 as the state makes its way through several layers of review and rule-making. A decision by the state Department of Environmental Conservation to seek a 90-day extension on its proposed rules has been interpreted by some as a sign the state may soon make a decision.

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8 Comments

  1. I think Governor Cuomo is missing the point. At least, he’s not hearing what people are saying who think the positive jobs/economy argument is just gas industry spin. The situation in Pa. does not bear him out. There are few positives on gas drilling. Is he going to sacrifice the southern tier? I live here and my neighbors and I don’t want to see this industry come here.

  2. “A decision by the state Department of Environmental Conservation to seek a 90-day extension on its proposed rules has been interpreted by some as a sign the state may soon make a decision.”

    It has also been interpreted as a deliberate attempt to push forward the regulations before the SGEIS, on which they should be based, is either finalized and/or made available to the public. This is clearly backwards of what the procedure should be and removes any trasparency. There were some promises made in the last version of the SGEIS which the regulations do not show. Is that an omission in the regs or have those promises been removed from the SGEIS?

  3. The governor is mistaken in thinking that the choice is just between positive jobs/economics and the health of the environment. He also needs to consider that the gas industry would displace existing, as well as future, jobs in other industries. For example, NY is trying to increase its dairy production to provide more local milk for Chobani and other NYS yogurt makers. However, the fact is that in PA both average dairy production and the size of dairy herds decreased by 18% in counties with heavy drilling, but only 1% in counties without drilling. http://pubs.cas.psu.edu/freepubs/pdfs/ee0020.pdf The Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council is working on projects to enhance agriculture and added value food production in the Southern Tier, but industrialized drilling could cost us both current and future jobs in this sector.

    Tourism is another possible sector that the Southern Tier REDC is working on that would have negative impacts caused by drilling. Currently the Southern Tier has people coming to enjoy recreational and cultural opportunities, as well as to attend various festivals, conventions, sports tournaments, and special events such as the Odyssey of the Mind state finals. If our roads become congested with fracking traffic and our hotels are filled with gas workers, our visitors will not be able to come here and the organized events that use large numbers of hotel rooms won’t be able to be held in the area. There are already towns in the adjoining PA counties where built new hotels were built to accomodate gas workers that are now standing nearly empty as the workers have left the dry gas of this region for the wet gas areas to the west. It illustrates the well-documented economic effects of extractive industries, where the bust following the boom leaves people with a less vibrant economy than they had before the boom.

    Other areas in which our Regional Economic Development Council is working to build jobs are renewable energy technologies, advanced transportation technologies, expansion of high speed internet to rural areas, and health care. All these sectors need highly skilled workers who are in high demand. The quality of life that an area offers is very important to these workers’ decision on where to settle. Industrializing our counties, with attendant noise, traffic, and pollution, will make it less likely that these highly skilled people will settle in our region and may set up a “brain drain” situation where people who already live here leave as their quality of life is negatively impacted. Both Binghamton University professors and area medical professionals have warned that they will lose current members of their ranks to other regions if fracking is permitted.

    When the damage to other employment sectors is taken into account, drilling may have a negative impact on jobs rather than a positive one, negating the only reason that drilling is still being considered, in the wake of an increasing body of independent scientific evidence of risk of harm to the environment, climate, and health.

  4. if Gov. Cuomo is serious about letting the science drive the decision-making then he would insure that a legitimate, independent, peer reviewed, thorough health impact study be done instead of the half-baked, rushed “review” of what the government (DEC) has already written, which is full of inadequacies. Mr. Cuomo is being a yes-man and those opposed to unconventional gas extraction do not buy it. Negative consequences associated with Fracking will damage and displace NY’s sustainable, existing industries. We are third in the nation for organic agriculture. New York’s organic farmers stand to lose their NOFA certification if their produce is grown anywhere near drilling activities.
    Let’s celebrate what thrives: support our farmers, wineries, tourism, recreation. Keep NY healthy and sustainable. The bust always follows the fossil fueled boom.

  5. I’m somewhat confused by this discussion about hydraulic fracturing. “Negative consequences”? I wonder if you all know that HVHF has been used in the State of New York for 40 years now without “consequences”? Lord, I pray I live long enough to see natural gas in my neighborhood in NE New York State as I will be the first to sign up. Why are people so misled on sensitive issues? Have any of you even bothered to research any of these issues you are so apposed to? You must definitely be of a younger generation to foster these beliefs. I hope we are not going to be blessed by any of you holding political office in our lifetime.

  6. Robert, HVHF has NEVER been used in New York State. It’s what the present moratorium and SGEIS/regulation process is all about. There has been low volume vertical fracking in various formations, including sandstones. HVHF with horizontal drilling has only been used in the US for about the past dozen years. I know this because I have done a lot of scientifically-based research on this topic.

  7. “It’s a big decision for the state and obviously there’s a lot of controversy about it and people have very strong feelings on both sides of it. We’re discussing the positives to the economy, the job creation at the same time with possible consequences to the environment.”-
    The big decision is not just the consequences to the environment. Governor, are you seeing what people like me have been posting on your facebook site? Scientific evidence lillustrating that once your frack, you can’t go back, to the way of living the life you had before. What will your legacy be in the future Governor? What are we going to be saying to future generations when there is no water left because, between the droughts and the millions of gallons of fresh water it takes to frack one well; we’ll be competing with the gas companies for clean water. Governor, didn’t SANDY teach us anything? Horizontal Hydraulic Fracturing releases Methane gases into our atmosphere and that causes more heat into the atmosphere than CO2. Governor, how could you say “consequences to the environment?” when there are people and animals IN those environment? Is this statement a clue to how much weight you hold New Yorkers health and lively hoods to Multi-national corporations whose sole purpose is to be held accountable to profits for their stock holders?

  8. Governor Cuomo, the fracking question has nothing to do with feelings. It has to do with facts, from studies already made to actually cases of ground water contamination, extremely excessive fresh water use in the fracking process, pollution of air by radioactive radon and greenhouse gas methane, and destruction of private and public land and its value. Most of the construction jobs of fracking wells employ out of state workers, there are few local jobs for operations and the wells invariably dry up before the industry’s estimates.
    The health of the public and animals, the useful farming condition of land, the irreparable poisoning of water, none of these are feelings, they are facts.
    Do you really want to go down in history as the Governor who allowed the gas industry to devastate New York State?