Raul Larios

Will Fracking Be Approved in New York?

200,000+ comments against frackingThis is a tough one to answer.  On the one hand, there are reasons to be optimistic.  As you may remember from my blog post last month, New York law offered a 30-day period for public comment on the proposed regulations that would govern hydrofracking.  The response was overwhelming.  Over 200,000 comments were submitted, many of them in paper format, which means that the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) was inundated with hundreds of boxes.

Moreover, on the day of Gov. Cuomo’s State of the State address (January 9, 2013), about 1,500 anti-fracking activists descended on the Empire State Plaza in Albany to urge Gov. Cuomo to ban hydrofracking.  See a short video of the rally here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tfcqzJ7iGTo.  I’m told that this was one of the largest demonstrations (ever!!) in Albany history.

On the other hand, there are many indications that the approval for hydrofracking is signed, sealed and merely waiting delivery.  Consider the following facts:

1.  At the very outset of the review process, DEC gave the natural gas industry access to DEC’s early draft on proposed rules, regulations and permit language, thereby giving the drillers a golden opportunity to influence the re-drafting of the provisional language.  In one blatant example, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), industry lawyers tried to “weaken testing requirements for radioactive pollution that might run off of drilling sites during heavy rains.”

In response to the allegations of misconduct, DEC stated that there was nothing illegal about their behavior.  That in fact, access was necessary to meet DEC’s “obligations under state law”.

But according to EWG, “nowhere in the law does it say regulators must share detailed rule proposals or specific permit language with the drilling industry outside of the public’s eye, behind closed doors…  [And] nowhere in the law does it say regulators must engage in preferential treatment and leave it up to public interest groups to file records requests [under the Freedom of Information Law] to reveal how the Department’s draft plan could be so tilted toward the drilling industry.”

2. DEC took the unusual step of choosing another Cuomo-controlled state agency, the Department of Health (DOH), to review DEC’s internal analysis on the potential health impacts – instead of a totally independent non-governmental evaluation.  Moreover, this examination is happening in total secrecy (the Cuomo administration has refused multiple requests to make the DEC’s health review public).

3. DEC has already issued its revised regulations, even BEFORE the completion of DOH’s health review or the release of the final version of DEC’s Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS).  The way some cynics see it, the Dept. of Environmental Conservation does not really care what the Dept. of Health or the scientific community have to say about the SGEIS…because DEC has already made up its mind.

4. According to EWG, at least one member of Gov. Cuomo’s inner circle (top advisor Lawrence Schwartz) stands to profit from the approval of fracking.

5. According to a Siena College poll last month on the question of allowing hydrofracking in New York, public opinion is pretty evenly split (44% against; 40% in favor, 16% undecided).

6. The January 9th anti-fracking demonstration in Albany (one of the largest in history), barely got any media coverage.

7. And most telling of all, Gov. Cuomo did not say anything against hydrofracking in his State of the State address last month, as thousands outside clamored for its total ban.

Given points 1 – 7 above, do YOU think that the review process has been fair, transparent or science-based, as promised by Gov. Cuomo?  Do you think (as some cynics do) that the decision to approve hydrofracking has already been signed and sealed, and is merely awaiting the required date by law to be delivered?

Speaking of dates, DEC is expected to release its Environmental Impact Statement by February 13.  Once the SGEIS is released, DEC can start issuing permits.  Only Gov. Cuomo can stop the process.

Therefore, please write him to let him know what YOU want.  His address is:

The Honorable Andrew Cuomo / Governor of New York State / State Capitol Building / Albany, NY  12224

In addition, the group “New Yorkers Against Fracking” set up a toll free line that will connect you directly with Gov. Cuomo’s office in Albany that is tabulating calls for and against hydrofracking.  The number is 866-584-6799.

You CAN make a difference: start by writing AND calling Gov. Cuomo directly, and then by telling your friends, family and acquaintances to do the same.  Simply forward this blog post to your social networks on LinkedIn or Facebook via the share buttons below.  But you must act NOW because time is running out.

Good luck and thank you!!

Until next month…

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February 1, 2013 - Posted by | New York | , , , , ,

5 Comments »

  1. Quick update – I hear from my sources at “New Yorkers Against Fracking” that over 5,000 calls were placed in just a few days, actually jamming up Gov. Cuomo’s phone lines!! That’s great news; thanks so much. Keep up the pressure…

    Comment by Raul Larios | February 4, 2013 | Reply

  2. So by now you may have heard the good news…that your phone calls, letters and demonstrations have paid off big time. The Cuomo administration has decided NOT to proceed with fracking anywhere in the State of New York, at least for the time being.

    Cuomo’s Dept. of Health (DOH), headed by commissioner Dr. Nirav Shah, stated in an open letter addressed to the Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) just a day before the February 13th deadline, that DOH needed more time to complete a comprehensive study of the potential impact of hydraulic fracturing to public health. And, therefore, that DEC should not proceed with the issuance of drilling permits until such time that the study is completed.

    In light of DOH’s public letter, DEC decided not to release its revised Environmental Impact Study by the legally-required deadline. Consequently, the entire permitting process has come to a screeching halt. Not one single high-volume hydraulic fracturing well is going to be allowed in the State of New York!!

    However, this does not mean that the risk of fracking in New York is gone forever; it has merely been postponed. So our work is not done yet.

    In fact, all options are still open to the Governor. There are no precise deadlines prescribed by law, moving forward. His Department of Health could complete the “comprehensive” study in 2 weeks or 2 months or 2 years or 2 decades. Therefore, we will have to remain watchful. We’ll reach out to you the moment we hear of any significant new developments.

    Until then, allow me to thank you (again!) for all your incredible help.

    Comment by Raul Larios | February 21, 2013 | Reply

  3. More good news! Earlier this month, the New York State Assembly passed a bill (by a 103 to 40 vote) that mandates a two-year moratorium on fracking in order to allow more time for studies on the health impacts of fracking. This puts us closer than ever to a complete ban on fracking in New York State — at least until the public health threats of fracking are thoroughly investigated before any final decisions are made.

    Thank you!!

    Comment by Raul Larios | March 24, 2013 | Reply

  4. There was another big rally in Albany last week (June 17, 2013). Several thousand anti-fracking demonstrators descended on the state capital calling on Gov. Cuomo to PERMANENTLY ban fracking in New York state. Rumors are that Cuomo’s Dept. of Health is near completion of its “comprehensive” (yet highly secretive) review of the potential impact of fracking on public health.

    Here is a link to some local coverage of the event (please cut and paste): http://www.newstimes.com/business/energy/article/Anti-fracking-groups-rally-in-Albany-urge-ban-4604598.php#photo-4797808

    Comment by Raul Larios | June 22, 2013 | Reply

  5. FANTASTIC news — On December 17, 2014, Governor Cuomo made his long-awaited decision: given the preponderance of scientific evidence demonstrating the inherent dangers of fracking to public health and the environment, high volume horizontal fracturing will be banned in New York State. What a great Christmas gift for all New Yorkers!

    Comment by Raul Larios | December 24, 2014 | Reply


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