The economic and energy benefits of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas are “inarguable,” but whether they outweigh the potential environmental detriments is still an open question, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday.
In a radio interview, Cuomo was asked about President Barack Obama’s support of shale-gas drilling ahead of Obama’s upcoming trip to upstate New York. Obama is scheduled to make three stops in the state this week, including one in Binghamton, which sits above the gas-rich Marcellus Shale.
Cuomo said fracking has “obvious economic benefits.” But he stopped well short of endorsing the controversial technique, which has yet to be allowed in New York as the state continues an environmental review that has stretched on for more than five years.
“Every area that has participated in fracking will tell you that it’s increased commercial activity and it has an economic boost effect,” Cuomo said on “The Capitol Pressroom,” a public-radio program. “The question is: Is there a cost to the environment, et cetera? And that’s what has to be assessed and that’s what has to be weighed and that’s what we’re going through now.”
He continued: “The president’s point that fracking has economic benefits, energy benefits for this country — that’s inarguable.”
Obama’s tour stops on Friday will showcase both sides of the contentious fracking issue. Binghamton is viewed by many as the epicenter of the New York debate. Later, he’ll head to Scranton, Penn., which lies within the most-active portion of the Marcellus in Pennsylvania, where drilling has been underway since 2007.
Cuomo said he received plenty of input on shale-gas drilling from Finger Lakes winemakers last week, when he toured wine country before awarding the “Governor’s Cup” in Watkins Glen to the top New York state wine.
“They’re all against fracking and they make that point,” Cuomo said.
(AP file photo / Mike Groll)