Governor on the Spot as N.Y. Considers Fracking

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), January 14, 2013 | Go to article overview

Governor on the Spot as N.Y. Considers Fracking


Byline: Ben Wolfgang, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

With nearby states cashing in but environmentalists and Hollywood stars urging him to back off, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is running out of time to decide whether his state will join the natural-gas fracking boom.

Friday marked the end of a 30-day public comment period the state set up on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, during which stakeholders, proponents, opponents and ordinary New Yorkers were able to weigh in with the state's Department of Environmental Conservation.

Mr. Cuomo, a first-term Democrat who's rumored to be eyeing a 2016 presidential run, has faced intense pressure from both sides of the debate. His decision, which he has put off for nearly a year, carries serious political consequences.

Allowing fracking in New York will deeply anger environmentalists who have mobilized in large numbers on the left. Prohibiting it will mean the Cuomo administration has stopped the creation of potentially thousands of jobs in long-struggling parts of the state that desperately need them.

As Mr. Cuomo weighs his options, critics have mounted an unprecedented public relations campaign to keep the practice out of New York. The effort has been led by the growing Artists Against Fracking organization, founded by performance artist Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon, Ms. Ono's stepson with Beatle John Lennon.

The duo again visited the state capital in Albany on Friday, delivering boxes of anti-fracking comments to Mr. Cuomo's office. Ms. Ono last week penned another column in which she urged the governor to reject fracking, which she characterized as disastrous to the environment of a state she loves.

My husband, John Lennon, and I bought a beautiful farm in rural New York more than 30 years ago. ... Like the rest of our state, this peaceful farming community is threatened by fracking for gas, she wrote in a piece that appeared in the Albany Times Union and elsewhere.

Governor Cuomo, please don't frack New York. Don't allow our beautiful landscapes to be ruined, or our precious and famous clean water to be dirtied, Ms. Ono said.

But Mr. Cuomo also appears to recognize the economic benefits that await upstate New York if fracking is allowed. Residents need only look south to Pennsylvania to see how struggling small towns can be revitalized by the practice, which uses water, sand and chemicals to break apart underground shale formations and release huge quantities of fuel.

The Marcellus Shale, one of the largest underground natural gas deposits in the world, underlies parts of upstate New York. …

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