Sen. Charles Schumer on Monday said most Democrats across the country are in favor of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, but he was careful to defer to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s decision-making process in New York.
On MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Schumer, D-N.Y., discussed the much-debate Keystone XL pipeline, a proposed oil pipeline system that would run from western Canada to to the southern U.S. and has long been under review.
When Schumer noted an increase in domestic oil and natural gas production in the states, host Joe Scarborough asked Schumer about the potential for natural-gas production in New York through fracking. New York sits within the Marcellus and Utica Shale formations, but high-volume fracking — the controversial technique used to help free shale gas — has been on hold in New York since 2008.
“Well, I haven’t stepped on the governor’s issue on this one. He’s being very, very careful because there are environmental concerns,” Schumer said. “But overall, the Democrats throughout the country have supported fracking. The president has, most of us have, and it’s worked quite well.”
Schumer’s comment led to this tap-dancing exchange:
Scarborough: “Would you like to see it in upstate New York?”
Schumer: “Well, it has to be done carefully and has to be done right.”
Scarborough: “If it’s done carefully, would you like to see it in upstate New York?”
Schumer: “If the governor feels it’s going to be done carefully, I sure would.”
New York’s review of fracking is currently wrapped up in the state Department of Health, which is reviewing whether the Department of Environmental Conservation’s proposed guidelines would protect public health. Fracking involves the use of water, sand and chemicals blasted deep underground to fracture shale formations and release natural gas.
Critics of fracking have been vocal in New York about the potential for environmental and health impacts, particularly as it relates to water quality. UPDATE: New Yorkers Against Fracking, a coalition of fracking opponents, issued a statement saying they were “dismayed” with Schumer’s comments. They pointed to a Pew Research poll from September that showed 59 percent of Democrats in the U.S. are opposed to the “increased use of fracking.”
“New Yorkers deserve more from our senators than blindly following gas industry propaganda, and we urge Senator Schumer to re-evaluate and take a position that doesn’t support poisoning our families,” the coalition’s statement reads.
Here’s a video of Schumer’s comments, as posted to YouTube by Energy in Depth, a gas-industry funded group. (The full 20-minute clip can be found here, but the below clip is the extent of Schumer’s remarks on fracking.)