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It was merely days ago that officials in the New York State Assembly celebrated the enactment of a two-year moratorium on fracking, and environmental extremists expressed glee at the prospect of a health study holding off the process for gas drilling by several years. This, on top of already being five-years immersed in the review process.
That glee may be short-lived, however.
According to the Associated Press, New York Health Commissioner Nirav Shah has indicated that he will not wait for completion of the aforementioned study in order to provide a recommendation, and will instead review preliminary findings by some of the researchers involved.
The result? Shah expects to make a health call on fracking in New York State within weeks.
Such news is welcome in a state which continues to see higher than average unemployment, and in which their residents continue to watch a mass business exodus directly resulting from stalling on a fracking commitment.
Earlier this month, oil and gas industry experts reported that Governor Cuomo's inability to decide on whether his state will move forward on fracking is forcing business owners to flee the state.
Despite launching a new initiative in 2011 called “New York Open For Business”, Cuomo has continued to slam the door shut on business growth that would result from the approval of gas wells in economically depressed portions of the state. As a result, New York not only continues to see an exodus of businesses from the state, but is ranked dead last in business friendliness.
But why? To appease left-wing extremists? These aren't just activists concerned about the environment. We're referring to people who will never be appeased, no matter the number of studies or reports that indicate the safety involved in the fracking process.
Even the normally reliable 'environment over employment' liberals at the Huffington Post can see the positives of fracking, calling the economic benefits "remarkably apparent".
In one column, the Post explains that the benefits of fracking are not solely economic. The author reveals that despite the vocal complaints of environmental activists, fracking would reduce emissions by higher levels than other energy sources, and would reduce “in significant measure our need to import fossil fuels.”
Buoying that claim was a New York Times report earlier this year that showed a leaked study from the Health Department indicated that hydraulic fracturing could indeed be done safely:
The eight-page analysis — leaked to the Times by an “expert who did not believe it should be kept secret” — concluded that fracking could be done safely within the state of New York and details the potential impacts on a variety of environmental factors, including fracking’s impact on water resources, on naturally occurring radiological material found in the ground, and on air quality. The analysis also looked at “potential socioeconomic and quality-of-life impacts.”
According to the Times, the analysis says that fracking can be done safely if the regulatory system that has been developed over several years is followed, and the analysis also rejects broad quantitative risk assessments that would attempt to project the probability of different kinds of hazards.
Meanwhile, Governor Cuomo has ignored the economic boom that is occurring right now in neighboring Pennsylvania.
GOP Chairman Ed Cox recently stated, "While Pennsylvania has 57,000 new jobs and a manufacturing industry revived in part by cheap natural gas, Western and Central New York continue to bleed jobs, and the Southern Tier is merely getting a frustrating taste of 'what might have been' from the spillover from Pennsylvania."
All of this said, Shah's recommendation will only be a part of the equation for Cuomo. But is this a possible indication that officials are starting to see the benefits happening in other states, and are willing to speed up the process to recommend fracking?
It certainly sounds like the Governor is trying to calm those opposed to waiting any longer.
Via the Wall Street Journal:
"Nobody ever said that we were waiting for the studies to be finished," Cuomo said Monday. "The Department of Health was going to be looking at those studies and see if there was anything constructive in those studies."
Cuomo will make a decision on whether to allow the potentially lucrative drilling in the economically distressed Southern Tier. But he has faced increasing opposition from environmentalists who claim "fracking" will threaten public health and drinking water.
"We will call them up, look at them, talk to them and find out," Cuomo said. "Maybe they are useless, in which case they are useless. Maybe they have some information that is instructive, in which case we will use the information."
Cuomo has long insisted that any decision will be based on science. But for some reason, the environmentalists have held his ear for some time, even agreeing to meet with activist Yoko Ono.
One would hope that the advice of his Health Commissioner pulls more weight than the environmental genius espoused by Ono, who recently claimed that fracking could "kill the whole world".
It's time Governor. Stop the loss of businesses and manufacturing in the Empire State. We need the jobs and the energy - now.