New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said yesterday that he would not pressure the Department of Environmental Conservation to announce its final decision on whether fracking can be safely used in the near future to extract natural gas.
“When it’s done, and when they’re prepared, that’s when we’ll announce the decision,” Cuomo said to an Albany radio station, Democrat and Chronicle reported. “And remember, the announcing of the decision is not going to be the conclusion. I promise you there will be lawsuits, whatever the decision is. So the day right after the decision, there will be another press conference that says, ‘Now we’re going to step two, which is a series of legal challenges and political challenges, and we’re going to try to get federal legislation and state legislation.”
Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a method that involves shooting high-pressure streams of water, sand, and often-toxic chemicals into the ground to get at natural gas reserves that lie 8,000 feet below the surface. While drilling companies contend that the practice is safe, environmental groups worry that the mixture will (and contend that it already has) contaminate groundwater supplies—including, they claim, New York City’s water. Read more about fracking and its potential problems here.
“We don’t know exactly what goes into fracking fluid,” Emily Genser, a senior at NYU majoring in Environmental Studies, said. “But there are known carcinogens. It’s a very, very large risk, and our water is too precious.”
Many anti-fracking advocates fearing the controversial technique’s arrival in their state are receiving Gov. Cuomo’s denial of a speedy decision as encouragement. EcoWatch, a catch-all blog center for grassroots environmental campaigns, called the remarks “an affirmation that pressure from the statewide movement is being felt … Now it seems that the reckless and irresponsible rush to frack has at least slowed and the power of New York’s grassroots anti-fracking movement is giving the governor some pause.”
While the frack-crastination is comforting to some, other activists and environmentalists see Gov. Cuomo’s remarks as just postponing a bad decision—especially in a political climate that has been notoriously wary to broach the subject while energy lobbyists loom large.
“It kind of means he’s saying ‘I’ll decide later, after the election,’” Genser said. “The fossil fuel industry has put a lot of money into buying their politicians.”
Until the long-awaited decision is made, fracking groups are urging New Yorkers to sign a pledge to resist fracking in New York. Sign the pledge here.