New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo turned more than a few heads last night at a televised election debate held in Buffalo, New York, when he said that the state’s long awaited public release of its scientific and health analysis of fracking would be done by the end of the year. This, the only planned debate of the campaign, included Republican Candidate Rob Astorino, Green Candidate Howie Hawkins, and Libertarian Candidate Michael McDermott.
Astorino, the Westchester County Executive, aggressively supports fracking in New York because of what he characterizes as a “positive impact” on jobs and “economic development” in the state. He completely dismisses the environmental consequences. Astorino said that one of the “first acts of his administration” would be to kick down the regulatory doors so that fracking and extraction can begin immediately. Both Green candidate Hawkins and Libertarian Candidate McDermott would ban fracking because, they both agree, the science is in and the health consequences are clear.
The analysis that Cuomo spoke about has been at the center of attention and controversy since the state issued a series of Draft Environmental Impact Statements starting in 2011, and received a tidal wave of public comments focusing on the idiocy of opening up the state to the dangerous fracking industry. Initially Cuomo had promised that the analysis would be completed and released before the initial public comment period but backed down. It has been widely speculated that several generations of both reports indicate that fracking is not a scientifically provable safe technology. The educated public knows that fracking is not safe to water supplies and human health. Subsequently Cuomo promised the release of the reports prior to this election. The reports have not been released and 10’s of thousands of New York citizens have bitterly criticized the lack of transparency involved in the creation of the health and science analyses.
“I am not a scientist” Cuomo, who is a lawyer, stated at the debate, “We have to let the scientists decide this issue.” This may be an entirely disingenuous position, as the fracking debate in New York has been characterized by industry and state government viewpoints that include scientists for hire, academic investments by state funded institutions of higher learning, and well funded disinformation campaigns. We have known that the state decision would not be made until after this election. We have been waiting for the release of the reports. Now we know that if Cuomo wins the election, he says that they will be released by the end of the year.