Hydraulic Fracturing: Paralysis By Analysis
It is time for an end to the open-ended moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in New York state.
The hydraulic fracturing process involves injecting loads of water, sand and chemicals deep into the ground to smash through rocks to get at natural gas deposits buried deep underground. Former state Gov. David Paterson issued a moratorium in 2008 because he felt the state didn’t know enough about the possible environmental and health hazards associated with hydraulic fracturing.
Paterson’s response was fine five years ago. It was even okay for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to say, early in his term, that he needed to study the process further before deciding if New York should join Pennsylvania in allowing hydraulic fracturing. Now, in 2013, the delay and debate is just tiresome – at least in part because of the utter lack of direction from the state. After years of public comment and a series of studies – available for review at www.dec.ny.gov/energy/76838.html – the state appears no closer to a decision than it was on the day the moratorium took effect.
It’s time for an end to the state’s paralysis by analysis approach to hydraulic fracturing. Cuomo – who felt the need to lead the way on progressive social issues like gun control, gay marriage and the minimum wage – is being lapped by the field on natural gas drilling. The inaction is especially difficult for areas like Chautauqua County that are bordered by states that allow fracking.
It’s time to realize the state’s decision will be unpopular with roughly half of the state’s population, like the SAFE Act. Cuomo, however, could show real leadership on an environmental issue by finding a middle ground such as pilot projects or at least allowing local communities to make their own decision, with appropriate safeguards. It is a much better alternative than the never-ending limbo imposed by the state’s moratorium.