Gov. Cuomo bows to the left and puts 'fracking' on hold:
ALBANY — A few months after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo was poised to approve hydraulic fracturing in several struggling New York counties, his administration is reversing course and starting the regulatory process over, garnering praise from environmental groups and stirring anger among industry executives and upstate landowners.
Ten days ago, after nearly four years of review by state regulators, the governor bowed to entreaties from environmentalists to conduct another study, this one an examination of potential impacts on public health. Neither the governor nor other state officials have given any indication of how long the study might take.
How long will it take to nail down a decision? They need to ask Cumo's pollsters and fundraisers. However, this indecision will probably make Cuomo unelectable on the national stage, although it might very well make him a favorite for the Dem Party Presidential nomination:
The developments have created a sense in Albany that Mr. Cuomo is consigning fracking to oblivion. The governor has been influenced by the unshakable opposition from a corps of environmentalists and celebrity activists who are concerned about the safety of the water supply. The opponents include a number of people close to the governor, including Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a longtime environmental activist in New York whose sister is the governor’s ex-wife.
The fracking issue is the biggest environmental question, and the most polarizing, facing Albany, and New York’s decision is being closely watched nationally, as President Obama and Mitt Romney have both expressed support for increased use of natural gas as a means to reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil. The natural gas industry has been eager to drill in the Marcellus Shale, a deep underground repository that runs through West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York. Extraction there was too complex and costly until the advent of hydrofracking.
...opposition to fracking has become such a touchstone for liberals that approving it, even in a limited fashion, would undoubtedly alienate some of his most dependable supporters. Anti-fracking protesters have shadowed Mr. Cuomo for months, at his home, his office, and his speaking engagements, and a wide array of celebrities, including Lady Gaga and Yoko Ono, have mobilized to express opposition to the technology.
“Andrew has a very good political antenna, and we’ve never seen anything like this in terms of grass-roots power,” Mr. Kennedy, whose father was a United States attorney general, said in a telephone interview. “In 30 years, I have not seen anything come close to this, in terms of the mobilization of the grass roots. You’ve got 20,000 people in the state who consider themselves to be anti-frack activists. So I think that’s got to impact the political process all around.”
Gee, if Lady GaGa is against it, how can any responsible Democrat be for it?
The Times closes with a buried, embittered rumination:
It was not entirely clear what further health impacts would be studied that were not already encompassed by the review process that began in the summer of 2008. In a statement in response to questions, the Department of Environmental Conservation said “health impacts were not overlooked” in the agency’s prior reviews, and “were fully assessed” in a draft environmental impact study that was released last year.
Joseph Martens, the agency’s commissioner, said last week: “Obviously if there was a public health concern that could not be addressed we would not proceed.”
Senator Thomas W. Libous, a Binghamton Republican and leading proponent of fracking, said he hoped the new study was “the last major hurdle,” adding, “I want to believe that.”
If Democrats can embrace this fear of the future at the national level, we can be in thrall to the Middle East for another generation. Or, they can reclaim their out-of-power-and-deservedly-so status.