May 20th - 6:00 am
The latest Siena poll contains some head-scratching results.
On the one hand, half of New Yorkers agree with Gov. Andrew Cuomo when he says state government is working again.
But when asked how they feel about the government in light of the recent series of public corruption scandals, only 26 percent said it’s working effectively, compared to 67 percent who said it is becoming more dysfunctional every day.
A vast majority of poll respondents – 88 percent – believe more arrests of legislators are on the horizon. That’s up from 81 percent last month.
A plurality of voters – 41 percent – said passing laws to address corruption should be the top end-of-session priority.
Addressing the governor’s Women’s Equality Agenda came in a distant second at 21 percent, with more than twice as much support from women as from men, followed by public campaign financing at 15 percent and the casino amendment at 13 percent.
All this turmoil has, oddly, been good for Cuomo’s favorability rating, which had fallen incrementally in each of the last four months.
According to this poll, Cuomo’s numbers – both approval and re-elect – have edged up a little, while his job performance rating remains identical to last month.
Cuomo now has a 64-32 favorability rating, up slightly from 62-33 percent last month.
Fifty-two percent say Cuomo is doing an excellent or good job as governor, and 47 percent say he’s doing only a fair or poor job. That’s unchanged from April.
Fifty-five percent say they are prepared to re-elect Cuomo, while 36 percent would prefer someone else – up from 53-39 in April.
Support for a casino gambling constitutional amendment, 53-37 percent, is the highest it has ever been. This makes some sense, given the amount of attention given to the Cuomo administration-Oneida Indian Nation deal struck last week.
On fracking, 39 percent of voters say they’d like to see drilling move forward, while 41 percent are opposed. The numbers last month were 45 percent opposed, 40 percent in favor.
Statewide, 57 percent of New Yorkers support the idea of a taxpayer funded campaign finance system, (in other words, using public dollars to match donations to candidates while also lowering contribution limits).
More than 60 percent of Democrats and independents support creation of a public system, while Republicans are evenly divided.
Apr 23rd - 1:03 pm
Daily News columnist Bill Hammond isn’t alone in questioning the tax-cutting, business-friendly New York claims the Cuomo administration has been making in its latest TV ad campaign.
“Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough isn’t buying it, either. Consider this exchange between the former congressman and one of the show’s frequent commentators, Steve Rattner, which took place earlier today. (Rattner was on with Texas Monthly editor Erica Grieder, who just wrote a book on the Lone Star State’s booming economy).
The moment in question comes shortly after the three-minute mark in the video below. Here’s the transcript, compliments of CapTon’s Bryan Terry:
Joe: “By the way I saw a New York commercial, Steve Rattner, New York State talking about New York open for business, we’re cutting taxes, we’re cutting regulations.”
“And let me tell you something, I hope you’re shaking your head because New York needs to cut taxes, they need to cut regulations they need to be more business friendly. It is stunning comparing New York to the state of Florida, that anybody comes to start a small business.”
Rattner: “But lets take a specific example that relates to Texas. And again we can debate whether it’s right or wrong. But New York has yet to allow fracking in upstate New York. There’s a ton of natural gas in New York state, across the border in Pennsylvania, they’re drilling and fracking it. New York has not issued regulations. Governor Cuomo has not made up his mind and obviously in Texas, they drill everywhere.”
Joe: “…Well, Steve, do you really think it’s a good idea that Andrew Cuomo is dragging his feet on natural gas exploration in New York? Because I can tell you, Texas loves the fact that New York is dragging its feet. Pennsylvania loves the fact they’re dragging. Do you think that’s a good thing?”
Rattner’s answer: No. But he was pressing Grieder on whether all of Texas’ success has come at the price of lax regulations that are taking a toll on the environment – especially when it comes to drilling.
Her short answer: No.
Apr 1st - 12:20 pm
This has been bouncing around for a while now, but today the Indepedent Oil and Gas Association highlighted their complaint filed last week with the Joint Commission on Public Ethics over Artists Against Fracking not registring as a lobbying entity.
IOGA, which represents energy companies that are in favor of permitting high-volume hydrofracking in New York, points to the extensive public relations effort Artists Against Fracking has undertaken to oppose the method.
The group singles out a billboard, full-page ad in The New York Times and TV ads that have run on cable.
Most prominently, Artists Against Fracking features Yoko Ono and her son Sean Lennon, who have both taken trips to Albany and northern Pennsylvania to highlight their concerns over fracking.
The last prominent entity to be called out on failing to register as a bona fide lobby group was the Committee to Save New York, which quickly did so after concerns were raised by good-government advocates and in the press.
Mar 28th - 2:20 pm
There’s a lot of attention being paid today to the fact that former Pennsylvania Governor-turned-fracking-champion Ed Rendell has some skin in the drilling game that he hasn’t disclosed as he pushes Gov. Andrew Cuomo to allow the controversial natural gas drilling process in the Marcellus Shale.
Pro Publica reports that Rendell, who has now called on Cuomo to green light fracking both in the pro-fracking NY Post (he said the governor would be “crazy” not to do so back in November 2012) and the Daily News (an OpEd that ran yesterday), has worked as a paid consultant to Element Partners, a private equity firm with investments in the natural gas industry and a focus on so-called “clean” technologies.
Asked about this apparent conflict, which he did voluntarily disclose, Rendell told ProPublica the DN “should have included ” the information. But he also said he isn’t actually conflicted because he does not own equity in Element Partners or any fracking companies.
Not to take any of the well-deserved credit away from ProPublica, but I did bring this issue up with Rendell when I interviewed him on CapTon early last December.
He was notably not happy with me for asking about his relationship with Element Partners, saying: “I’m a consulant to them, but I don’t have any direct…They pay me a $30,000-a-year consulting fee. I do not get anything…I believe that environmentally safe drilling can occur.” (Actually, Rendell was notably not happy throughout the interview, and spent a lot of time talking over me. But we’ll let that one go).
The Element Parnters website lists Rendell as an “operating partner” and describes him as “a longtime proponent of clean energy and ‘green economic growth.’”
Daily News opinion editor Josh Greenman told ProPublica he was unaware of Rendell’s relationship with Element Partners, and had been assured by the former governor’s representative that there was no conflict. “Had I known, I certainly would have disclosed that and conceivably would have made a different judgment on the piece,” he said.
The DN has since added a disclosure line to Rendell’s OpEd that reads:
“Rendell is a paid consultant to Element Partners, a private equity firm with stake in a number of energy companies, including hydrofracking/natural gas interests. This information was not disclosed at the time his op-ed was submitted to the News.”
Mar 11th - 6:00 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s job approval has fallen to 54 percent – the lowest point since he took office in 2011 – but broad support for his agenda remains among New Yorkers, a Siena College poll released this morning found.
Cuomo’s favorability rating is down from 67 percent in February to 64 percent, while 37 percent of voters say at this point they would prefer a generic “someone else” against the governor for re-election in 2014.
If anything, the poll affirms that Cuomo spent considerable political capital on forcing the gun control law through the Legislature. His approval appears to have taken its toughest hit among Republican and small “c” conservative voters.
While Cuomo once enjoyed strong across-the-board approval from GOP voters, the poll today shows he is coming back down to earth for a Democratic official.
He now is seen favorably by 50 percent of enrolled Republicans, while 55 percent of self-identified conservatives have an unfavorable view, according to the crosstabs that appear below.
However, 80 percent of liberals and 68 percent of moderates continue to give the governor high marks.
Making things a bit contradictory, however, is this: The drop in favorability, job performance and re-election ratings can’t precisely be blamed on Republicans.
Cuomo’s numbers on those issues are actually up among Republicans this month compared to last month.
“The fall this month is due to some slippage among Democrats and independents,” said Siena poll spokesman Steve Greenberg.
“He also slipped among New York City and upstate voters, while gaining a little ground with suburban voters.”
Still, most New York voters polled in this very blue state continue to back the governor’s third year agenda of stricter gun control, increasing the hourly minimum wage and enhancing abortion and reproductive rights for women.
Support remains for the SAFE Act, which was passed in January and updated the state’s assault weapons ban and limited the number of rounds in a magazine from 10 to seven.
The law has become a flashpoint for gun-rights advocates across the country in the wake of the Connecticut school shooting that killed 26 people late last year – including 20 children.
The measure has been the subject of several pro-gun rights rallies at the Capitol and a handful of Republican lawmakers in the Senate are pushing for “repeal and replacement” of the law’s key provisions.
Also, a steady stream of local governments – all of them upstate – have passed resolutions calling for Albany to ditch, or at least rework, the new gun law.
Despite all this upheaval, the SAFE Act remains popular with New Yorkers, according to Siena’s numbers. Sixty-one percent of those surveyed say they back the law, down from 65 percent last month.
Repeal of the law is opposed by a margin of 56 percent to 40 percent.
On the issues that are yet to be locked down in Albany, voters survey back campaign finance reform, as well loosening drug laws for small amounts of marijuana.
As usual, there is strong support for increasing the state’s minimum wage. More than three-quarters of voters back an increase to $9 an hour, up from the current $7.25.
But it is Cuomo’s push for a version of the Reproductive Health Act – a measure to strengthen abortion rights in New York that he has yet to introduce – that has the most support.
Voters back the measure, which supporters say merely codifies Roe v. Wade at the state level, but opponents call an expansion into late-term abortion – by a margin of 80 percent to 16 percent.
“When asked to describe themselves as generally ‘pro-life’ or ‘pro-choice’ on the issue of abortion, 66 percent of New York voters describe themselves as pro-choice – including more than two-thirds of Democrats and independents and a majority of Republicans – compared to 27 percent who describe themselves as pro-life,” Greenberg said.
Not helping the governor make a decision on the controversial natural gas extraction process hydrofracking, New Yorkers continue to be split on the issue.
Last month’s Siena poll found a 40-40 tie on the issue, while now 43 percent oppose allowing the method and 39 support support it.
The survey of 803 registered New York voters was conducted between March 3 and 7. It has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.
Feb 12th - 6:25 pm
The state Department of Health signaled to environmental regulators today that the health assessment for the hydrofracking review will take longer.
That paved the way for DEC Commissioner Joe Martens to essentially announce that while the agency won’t be able to meet its Wednesday deadline for the thick environmental impact statement, which also puts the final Feb. 27 release of its regulations in question as well.
But Martens announced in a statement that the DEC could still continue on the fracking permits even if the regulations aren’t in place and the health impact doesn’t show serious issues with fracking and human health.
“If the DOH Public Health Review finds that the (Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement) has adequately addressed health concerns, and I adopt the SGEIS on that basis, DEC can accept and process high-volume hydraulic fracturing permit applications 10 days after issuance of the SGEIS,” Martens said. “The regulations simply codify the program requirements.”
It’s a slightly difficult thing to discern, especially since Martens’ statement is a bit difficult to parse through.
So the next question becomes: What happens if permits for high-volume fracking are issued without the regulations in place? That could lead to a lengthy court challenge, environmental groups told me today as they read through both DOH Commissioner Nirav Shah’s letter as well as the Martens statement.
If the regulations and SGEIS stayed paired, that would require a re-opening of a 45-day public comment period, plus at least one public hearing. That’s a prospect that could once again delay fracking from moving forward.
But separating the environmental impact statement from the official regulations could also lead to legal challenges.
In a statement, the Sierra Club — which split its statmenets between a glowing one for Shah and a skeptical response to Martens — referred to the environmental review process as a “de fact regulatory program” that is of questionable legality should permits be issued.
“The Sierra Club cautions that moving forward with permitting, after the SGEIS has been completed and before a new regulatory review has been finalized will be met with fierce opposition. We trust that the DEC will indeed take this opportunity to reevaluate the legality of using an environmental review process as a de facto regulatory program. “
While the industry is eager to move forward to natural gas drilling in parts of upstate, they were heartened by Martens’s stance on moving forward with permits.
“Given the DEC Commissioner’s assurances that this delay will not mean delays for issuing permits, we respect the administration’s need to finish this last study and finally come to resolution. We also know that it can and must end with a decision to move forward with creating jobs in the Southern Tier. The clock is ticking. It’s time for action. It’s time for safe natural gas development.”
Feb 12th - 3:33 pm
Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens announced today that the health impact study from the Department of Health will not be completed this week as initially expected.
Health Commissioner Niravh Shah wrote in a letter to Martens today that the health review of the environmental impact statement will take more time.
Shah writes that Health Department officials will be traveling to Pennsylvania and Washington in the coming days to receie briefings on the issue. Shah also writes that he’s extended term of the DOH outside researchers to continue the review.
From Shah’s letter:
As we have been reviewing the scope of these studies, I have determined — and prudence dictates — that the DOH Public Health Review will require additional time to complete based on the complexity of the issues. My team and I will be in Pennsylvania and Washington in the coming days for first-hand briefings on these studies and their progress, which will assist in informing the New York eview. I have also extended the term of the DOH outside expert researchers to continue to assist my review. I aticipate delivering the completed Public Health Review to you within a few weeks, along with my recommendations.
Martens said in a statement that there are no implications for the delaying of permits.
If the DOH Public Health Review finds that the SGEIS has adequately addressed health concerns, and I adopt the SGEIS on that basis, DEC can accept and process high-volume hydraulic fracturing permit applications 10 days after issuance of the SGEIS. The regulations simply codify the program requirements.
If, on the other hand, the DOH review finds that there is a public health concern that has not been assessed in the SGEIS or properly mitigated, we would not proceed, as I have stated in the past.
In either event, the science, not emotion, will determine the outcome.
Feb 11th - 1:47 pm
Anti-fracking advocates have taken out a full-page ad in the Des Moines Register warning potential White House contender Gov. Andrew Cuomo that his decision whether to lift the moratorium on fracking in the Marcellus Shale “will be remembered forever” if they have anything to say about it.
POLITICO reports the ad, which will run in tomorrow’s paper, was paid for by more than 135 groups that oppose the controversial natural gas drilling technique, including a host of local organizations and some big-name national groups like Bill McKibben’s 350.org; the Sierra Club and Greenpeace.
“Stand up for people over pollution,” the ad reads. “Don’t allow a single fracked shale gas well in New York. This is your chance to be a national leader on climate. Your choice now will be remembered forever.”
(Of course, there already are fracked wells in New York, as the industry likes to point out. But they’re vertical, not horizontal).
The Des Moines Register is the largest and most influential newspaper in Iowa, which hosts the first-in-the-nation presidential contest every four years (in this case, caucuses, not primaries, which is a designation that belongs to New Hampshire).
Cuomo is widely believed to be mulling a presidential run in four years, even though he has repeatedly insisted that is not the case.
The next deadline for a decision on fracking is Feb. 27, though tecnically speaking the revised SGEIS has to be released by the 13th – Wednesday.
Last week, state Department of Environmental Commissioner Joe Martens suggested at a joint legislative budget hearing that the Feb. 27 deadline would not, in fact, be met, saying it all depends on the Department of Health finishing its review of the potential public health impact on fracking and what, if any, recommendations might be made as a result of its findings.
Gannett’s Jon Campbell reported last week that three outside experts tapped by the state to conduct an independent assessment of the public health review had completed their work weeks ago.
Feb 7th - 12:30 pm
Anti-fracking advocate Yoko Ono hasn’t had a chance to meet with Gov. Andrew Cuomo to discuss the hotly contested issue of natural gas extraction.
So she and Artists Against Fracking have made this TV ad, which will begin airing Friday through next week, displaying not-so-pretty images of drilling sites.
“Gov. Cuomo, since you haven’t met with me about the dangers of fracking, I will show you,” she says in the ad.
Ono, and her son Sean Lennon, have traveled to Albany and to Pennsylvania to lobby against the issue.
The Department of Health is expected to release its report on the effects of hydrofracking on human health sometime this month.
Feb 6th - 1:44 pm
After much heated debate and delay, the Village of Oxford Board of Trustees voted 4-1 last night in favor of a change in the municipal zoning ordinance that clarifies a prohibition against gas exploration, extraction, and disposal, establishing the first fracking moratorium in Chenango County.
There are a number of these local holds on fracking (some bans, some moratoriums) across the state, many of which have been passed in communities that aren’t located on top of the Marcellus and/or Utica shales and therefore are in no danger of seeing drilling anytime soon.
Chenango County is in the Southern Tier, and is one of of a handful of counties mentioned last summer as part of a limited fracking plan floated to the New York Times by a senior official at the Department of Environmental Conservation. According to that proposal, communities that do not want to play host to the controversial natural gas drilling process would not be forced to do so.
Village of Oxford officials have been contemplating this ban since last July, and the debate has apparently been quite contentious at times. They were poised to vote in December, but then delayed things at the last minute due to the threat of legal action by a pro-fracking group.
According to a press release sent by an organization called the Concerned Residents of Oxford, Mayor Stark (who voted “yes” on the ban, received over 300 letters from local residents urging him to enact a moratorium. In addition, a petition yielded has so far yielded 1,052 signatures for a townwide moratorium on fracking.
After the vote, Stark urged everyone involved in this local debate to “please seek common ground,” which seems much easier said than done if you’ve been following this issue through its many ups and downs over the past four+ years.