New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced today that his administration is pushing the controversial decision on whether to allow fracking in the state back to square one. This encouraging move by Gov. Cuomo is sure to upset the oil industry, but it was the right thing to do given the enormous uncertainties surrounding fracking and unconventional energy development.
The threats of water contamination, air pollution, climate-altering methane pollution and public health impacts posed enormous challenges for Gov. Cuomo, whom many see poised to make a run for the White House in 2016.
Had he rushed through approval of fracking, his political base - including tens of thousands of state residents vocally opposed to fracking - would likely question his ability to navigate even larger controversies and pressure from industry lobbyists.
While the fate of fracking in New York remains unsettled, The New York Times suggested today that Cuomo's decision to reset the regulatory review process has “created a sense in Albany that Mr. Cuomo is consigning fracking to oblivion.”
Prominent New York attorney and environmentalist, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (full disclosure - a friend and colleague of mine), told the New York Times,
“Andrew has a very good political antenna, and we've never seen anything like this in terms of grass-roots power,” … “There’s no other governor who's just said 'let's hold off.' And he's under, I can tell you, tremendous pressure by the industry and by others.”
Cuomo's move is sure to inspire further grassroots opposition across the nation, where battles over fracking and other dirty energy practices rage on. It is also sure to ignite even more industry misinformation campaigns, lobbying efforts and campaign expenditures to put polluter interests ahead of the public interest.
It is encouraging to see Governor Cuomo stand up against the intense pressure from the oil and gas industry. The moratorium on fracking will remain in place as the state regulators take a fresh look at the science on fracking's threats to water and public health, including further public hearings to solicit feedback from residents.
DeSmog has called for a national moratorium - indeed a global moratorium - on fracking until independent scientific studies are conducted to verify that fracking is not responsible for adverse outcomes on drinking water, public health and the global climate.
Governor Cuomo's decision to revisit the entire review of shale gas fracking is an encouraging sign that he understands the consequences.
Image credit: Lauren Long | Syracuse Post-Standard