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Fracking Decision Delayed Again; Top Cuomo Energy Aide Resigns


Robert Hallman
Richard Kauffman
The neighboring state of Ohio has said "yes" to fracking. It has brought jobs and wealth to some. The environmental impact has not yet been fully assessed.

It appears that a decision on whether to go forward with hydraulic fracturing in New York State is at least a year away and possibly as many as five years as Gov. Cuomo, according to a recent story by the Associated Press, has canceled a plan for as many as 40 test wells in southern New York pending results of a new health study that has yet to begin.

The delay should come as no surprise to most New Yorkers as both sides in the fracking debate are loaded for bear and it is a highly-charged political issue for the governor who is already facing public wrath across the state for his hastily enacted gun-control legislation. This for a chief executive who had been riding high in the polls and eyeing a bid for the White House in 2016. He might be better off politically to keep fracking in a holding pattern, but that has political risks, too, with so much at stake for both sides.

In any event, the latest delay reportedly came after Cuomo talked to his former brother-in-law, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., about the fracking issue and the upcoming Geisinger Health System study which is described as still in its early planning stages. The new delay, and the political hazards for all state politicians, gives lawmakers more breathing room in the highly-charged debate between the drilling interests eager to capitalize on the natural gas boom and the star-studded anti-fracking forces led by Yoko Ono who fear that fracking is a health threat.

Whatever was behind the latest delay on fracking, it is probably fair to say the governor might be politically gun-shy (no pun intended) about the controversial drilling process given the backlash he is getting from his SAFE Act legislation that has triggered a run on gun sales and protests in Albany against Cuomo.

There's also another wrinkle in the fracking controversy as the man described as Cuomo's top environmental adviser has resigned his $150,000-a-year post as deputy secretary for energy and environment, effective March 1.

Robert Hallman, former chairman of the New York League of Conservation Voters, an environmental group, had been named last year to a 12-member state advisory panel by DEC to study hydraulic fracturing, according to the Albany Times Union.

Hallman declined comment on his resignation and Cuomo's press office told the Times Union the departure was amicable.

The governor's office said Hallman's energy role will be assumed by Richard Kauffman who was named by Cuomo as his energy czar during his State of the State speech in January.



Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr. www.niagarafallsreporter.com

Mar12 , 2013