As Resourceful Earth has previously noted, there has been a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in New York since 2010, with no definitive timetable for ending (or making permanent) this moratorium. However, recent events have suggested that Governor Andrew Cuomo might allow for fracking sooner rather than later, reversing previous skepticism held by many that he would support a continued moratorium:
New York state will seek a 90-day extension of the Nov. 29 deadline to develop fracking rules, which would reopen a public-comment period, said Emily DeSantis, a spokeswoman for the Environmental Conservation Department
The extension, if granted by the Office of Administrative Hearings, would allow Health Commissioner Nirav Shah time to analyze the issue with the help of an outside panel, whose members were chosen this month, DeSantis said in an e-mailed statement. The study, ordered in September by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration, caused New York to miss the deadline.
This is actually good news, as it is not the worst outcome, and has the potential to bring hydraulic fracturing to those who want it in New York on a more reasonable time frame.
Governor Cuomo had three options. The first was to meet the November deadline to produce regulations that would govern the process. This, from our perspective, would have been the most preferable though it would have set off the environmentalists and perhaps was not a feasible option for Governor Cuomo.
The third option was to let the proposed rules expire, which would have allowed environmental groups to effectively extend the moratorium for years as industry is forced to restart the regulatory process — that is riddled with unnecessary setbacks — which takes multiple years to get through.
So it is a reasonably good sign that Cuomo is attempting to extend the November deadline for 90 days, while hiring a panel to “study” (we are less convinced that the “study” matters, when compared with the political maneuvering at stake) the potential outcomes. As the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York (a pro-fracking citizen group) notes:
“The Joint Landowners Coalition of New York and our 77,000 landowners are cautiously optimistic that Governor Cuomo’s recent announcement signals an end in sight to the over four and a half year long regulatory process for high-volume hydraulic fracturing. We are encouraged that the Governor and DEC have a plan to avoid expiration of the regulatory review process.”
“New York landowners, farmers, businesses and taxpayers hope that New York can finally bring an end to this process and begin realizing the environmental and economic opportunities enjoyed by our neighboring Marcellus Shale states.”
Environmentalists will still attempt to ban or delay fracking for as long as they can in New York. Let’s hope that cautious optimism is warranted.