Gov. Andrew Cuomo had supportive things to say Tuesday about natural gas as a fuel, but said there are still questions about whether it can be developed safely with hydraulic fracturing.
Asked Tuesday about President Barack Obama calling natural gas an “effective transition fuel” in a speech on climate change last month, Cuomo said he generally agrees.
“There’s no doubt that natural gas can be a very effective fuel for this country,” Cuomo told reporters.
But how does that square with the Cuomo administration’s lack of a decision on fracking in the Marcellus Shale in the Southern Tier, which is believed to have an ample supply of natural gas? Cuomo said it’s a different issue.
“The question is not: Do you think natural gas is good?” Cuomo said. “The question is: Can you, in fracking in that area, develop the natural gas? And what are the health or environmental consequences of that development? That’s a different issue of whether or not you think natural gas is good.”
Environmental, health and anti-fracking groups have raised numerous concerns about the fracking process, particularly as it’s related to water quality and the public health. The natural-gas industry says the risks can be properly mitigated.
State Health Commissioner Nirav Shah was first tasked last year with reviewing the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s proposals for fracking to ensure they protect the public health. That review apparently continues, and a decision on fracking waits until it’s finalized.
Cuomo said there’s no update on when that work may be completed. “There’s nothing new as far as I know,” he said.
(Mike Grol/AP Photo)