It’s official: after years of edging steadily towards the decision to open up New York State to the danger and environmental degradation of fracking, Governor Cuomo has finally opened his eyes and ears to the groundswell of opposition to the controversial gas drilling method and put the breaks on the approval process. We’re pleased and encouraged by the fact that there will be no progress toward fracking in New York in 2012.
As we noted in October, intense pressure from the grassroots anti-fracking movement forced Gov. Cuomo to conduct a new health review of his proposed fracking regulations. Cuomo appointed three health professionals to conduct the review, but offered little detail in the way of exactly what their mandate would amount to. More questions were created than answered with the governor’s new twist to the review process. Meanwhile, a procedural deadline of November 29, 2012 still seemed to loom for his administration to approve final fracking regulations or be forced into some re-initiation of the review and regulation process.
Finally, last week, Gov. Cuomo confirmed that his administration would not meet that Nov. 29 deadline, assuring that nothing will be decided on the issue this year. While it seemed just a few months ago that Governor Cuomo was ready to carve a vast fracking sacrifice zone throughout the state’s Southern Tier, the immense pressure placed upon him by a broad coalition of thousands of concerned residents, activists and organizations has forced a rightful second-guessing of fracking by the governor. All of which buys our growing movement more time to energize, strategize, mobilize and activate anew against the still-looming threat that continues to cloud New York’s future.
Additionally, the fight for truth and transparency around fracking in New York enjoyed another victory this month, as a university research institute that had been closely tied to the oil and gas industry was shut down by the school’s president recently. In an era when it has become commonplace for corporate interests to coopt supposedly legitimate academic research institutions with funding, influence and biased engagement, to see such an entity rightly shut down is a win not just for concerned New Yorkers but for science and academics at large.
When the New York State University at Buffalo’s Shale Gas Resources and Society Institute opened last year, it was widely suspected that the institute was receiving financial support from the oil and gas industry. Last May, it released a study that was loaded with misinformation and drew the obviously false conclusion that fracking was a safe procedure that would have no negative effects on surrounding communities. After much criticism and controversy, the fact that the institute has been permanently shuttered should be affirmed and celebrated.
As the eyes of the nation remain on New York State and the prolonged fight to protect countless communities from the ravages of fracking, we can look forward to building our movement and our momentum in 2013. Help keep the pressure on Governor Cuomo by signing our petition and letting him know you won’t tolerate fracking in New York State this year, next year or ever.