Minutes after the Cuomo administration announced Tuesday it wouldn’t make a fast-approaching deadline for its proposed hydrofracking regulations, we spoke to Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a Westchester resident and president of the Waterkeeper Alliance.
Kennedy’s evolution from shale-gas-drilling supporter to outspoken critic has been well documented. He has close ties to Gov. Andrew Cuomo; the two were brothers-in-law before Cuomo and Kerry Kennedy divorced in 2003, and Robert Kennedy sat on a state fracking advisory panel that has since gone all but defunct.
What did Kennedy make of the Cuomo administration’s decision not to meet a Feb. 27 regulatory deadline and take more time to complete a health review?
“I think that’s the exactly right move to take,” Kennedy told Gannett’s Albany Bureau. “I think (Cuomo’s) being deliberative, going step by step, and it looks like he’s trying to make a science-based decision.”
Kennedy said he’s discussed the issue with Cuomo “many times,” as recently as a week ago. He said Cuomo and a top aide had recently read an outside study on fracking—Kennedy could not recall which one—that they found “eye opening.”
“Andrew, the governor, did not make up his mind about this until the last week. They’re reading stuff,” Kennedy said. “They had just read a report on fracking, which I think was eye-opening for them. They are genuinely trying to make a decision that is fact-based and science-based, and they’re studying it.”
He continued: “I was impressed that they weren’t just holding their finger up and looking at the political winds and which way the political winds were blowing, but they were actually reading science.”
As the review process continues, Kennedy said he believes it’s “reasonable” for the environmental community to ask for the health review to be opened up to public comment when it’s completed.
“We would like to see a lot of transparency and we would like to see them a complete literature review, including the Geisinger report,” Kennedy said. “If there is not adequate information in that, then they (should) continue to study and it should be made available to the public.”