You Know The Drill
ICYMI: This was my morning memo sent out around 8 a.m.
Today is the last day for comments to be lodged with the DEC on its most recent set of regulations for the controversial natural gas drilling process known as hydrofracking.
Predictably, the well-organized and vociferous anti-fracking crowd has seized on this opportunity to make yet another public plea to Gov. Andrew Cuomo that he reject the idea of drilling in the Marcellus Shale (or anywhere else, for that matter).
Artists Against Fracking, the organization formed by Sean Lennon and Yoko Ono, will be demonstrating at the Capitol at noon. Ono and Lennon, who we are very much hoping manage to make it to the CapTon studios after this event for an extended interview, will then deliver boxes of comments to the DEC. Advocates say they have collected 200,000+ comments.
Ono wrote in a Times Union OpEd this week of the rural upstate farm she and her deceased husband, John Lennon, purchased more than 30 years ago, which apparently has prompted her to get involved in this debate.
Cuomo was silent on the topic of fracking during his State of the State speech Wednesday, but the anti-frackers made sure their voices were heard.
Hundreds of them lined the concourse between the Capitol and the Empire State Plaza Convention Center, forcing many SoS attendees to walk a spirited gauntlet (though the protestors were kept behind a waist-high barrier) en route to hear the governor speak.
Yesterday Cuomo insisted that his omission of fracking from the SoS was not some kind of coded message indicating a decision on his part one way or the other. He noted that the process remains under review by the DEC. The agency’s commissioner, Joe Martens, has said he’s hoping a decision will be made before the end of next month.
Several key members of the Assembly Democratic majority have made it clear they are not pleased with the review process the DEC has undertaken.
Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee Chairman Robert Sweeney, Health Chairman Richard Gottfried, and Regulation Review Chairman Charles Lavine asked the governor to suspend the 30-day comment period that ends today until a review of the public health impact of fracking is complete – a review, by the way, of which anti-frackers have been quite critical due to the lack of transparency over what, exactly, is being reviewed by three outside experts.
Yesterday, the Assembly Democrats held a marathon hearing on fracking that lasted well into the early evening and was dominated by drilling opponents. (IOGA refused to participate, but other pro-fracking interests did testify. The DEC didn’t play along, either).
I have long thought that the fracking decision was unilaterally an executive decision – one that rests solely in the governor’s hands (via the DEC, of course; Cuomo himself has been very careful not to discuss how he personally feels about drilling, other than to say that the final word will be based on science, not emotion).
But during a CapTon interview last night, Cuomo’s former chief of staff, Steve Cohen, who remains very much plugged in to the administration – although he’s no longer involved in day-to-day decision making – challenged me on that idea, saying the Legislature actually IS going to have a role to play in this decision.
“The overall decision, as a preliminary matter, resides with the governor on fracking. But it isn’t a unilateral decision, because I think everybody would agree that if you’re going to allow any kind of fracking – even on a limited or a trial basis – you need an enforcement mechanism.”
“The enforcement mechanism is going to require both budgetary action and it’s going to require legislation. So, you then are back with the Legislature. So, it’s a mistaken view of it to suggest that this is the governor and the governor alone.”
“Once he makes a decision that it’s to go forward – and I’m not sure that that will be the decision – but if it were to go forward, then it would be back in the Legislature both from a budget standpoint and also the need to enact a variety of statutes to make it a reality in terms of enforcement.”
|Print article||This entry was posted by Liz Benjamin on January 11, 2013 at 12:23 pm, and is filed under Fracking, Uncategorized. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|