- Last Updated: 11:51 PM, June 13, 2012
- Posted: June 14, 2012
Will hydraulic fracturing ever come to New York?
And if it does, will it be sufficiently commonplace to actually boost Upstate’s sadly dilapidated economy?
These are fair questions — given that the Cuomo administration has slowed the approval process for the controversial natural-gas-extraction method to a crawl.
And now comes word, via a careful leak to The New York Times, that Team Cuomo is pushing a plan that would severely limit both the number of drilling permits and their location to just a few counties.
And even that assumes that the process itself is approved by the Department of Environmental Conservation — which is still a mighty big if.
According to the Times, initial plans to allow 75 drilling permits in the first year would be reduced to 50 — and then only in the deepest part of the gas-rich Marcellus Shale. And only in localities that approve it.
Now, a reduction in permit numbers may well be in line with what the gas industry says it can handle at the outset.
But the approval process has been dragged out so long already that it’s hard not to wonder if the story signals just another nick in a death by a thousand cuts.
Fact is, the DEC seems in no hurry to greenlight fracking — even though President Obama and his activist EPA administrator, Lisa Jackson, insist it can be done safely.
Cuomo’s office yesterday insisted that “no final decision has been made and no decision will be made until the scientific review is complete and we have all the facts.”
But Cuomo has been in office going on 18 months now, and there’s no hard evidence that any progress at all has been made.
When last heard from in April (more than two months after Cuomo pledged to “have a decision in a couple of months”), DEC Commissioner Joe Martens was saying, “We hope over the course of the summer, perhaps we’ll complete the process.”
The process of reviewing and responding to public comments, that is — not of reaching an actual decision.
Meanwhile, Upstate remains in desperate need of the economic revival that a vigorous fracking effort would bring.
New jobs, outside investment, infrastructure development — that’s what fracking has produced everywhere else.
As Cuomo notes, New York can’t maintain “a reputation for being anti-business and [still] have a rosy economic future.”
Time to jolly the process along, governor.Follow @NYPostOpinion