Last Updated: 12:25 AM, September 4, 2012 Posted: September 04, 2012 NY Post Editorial
With Labor Day over and summer near an end, Gov. Cuomo is out of excuses: It’s time to fish or cut bait on fracking.
Cuomo’s been governor for 20 months now. Even before taking office, he signaled support for fracking, a process of extracting natural gas from underground shale.
Yet fracking — which can bring countless jobs and investment to New York — continues to be illegal in the state.
What’s the holdup?
Cuomo can no longer fairly blame his bureaucracy: It’s been 14 months since his own Department of Environmental Conservation issued a 900-page report blessing the gas-extraction technique. And that document itself had been long in the making.
“The report comes after tens of thousands of work-hours by dozens of professional experts,” Cuomo noted back then.
Albany would begin issuing permits, it was hoped, shortly thereafter.
Instead, Cuomo & Co. opened the door to endless delays, deadline extensions and prolonged reviews.
Opponents — who claim, without evidence, that the practice is unsafe — pounced, stepping up their scaremongering. Resistance grew.
The anti-fracking New York Times went into overdrive. (At one point, the paper said it finally found an instance where fracking had caused damage, disproving claims that there’s never been even one such case. But the story proved flawed.)
Cuomo did admit that he’d slowed down the review — so as, he said, to cut through all the “emotion” and “fear.”
Not to worry: A decision, he promised, was just “a couple of months” off.
“The debate has been going on for years,” Cuomo noted — quite rightly. “So it’s not like a few weeks this way or the other is going to make a significant difference.”
But that was last February.
Well more than “a few weeks” — or even months — have gone by.
Now it’s September — 2012. New York’s jobless rate hovers around 9 percent.
Upstate regions are desperate.
Yet fracking is still banned.
Let’s be honest: There’s little doubt the process can be done safely; even President Obama and his infamously overcautious EPA chief, Lisa Jackson, have blessed it.
Mayor Bloomberg backs it, too. Just last week, he released a study citing an urgent need for more natural gas for the city.
Recent reports suggest that a decision from Albany may be close.
But New Yorkers have heard that before.
It’s time for Cuomo to end the reviews and read the riot act to DEC technocrats, particularly Commissioner Joe Martens — making clear that he’ll abide no further delays.
A ban on fracking, or even over-regulating it — as Cuomo and DEC might do — would be a huge, tragic missed opportunity.
But either way, New York needs closure. Almost as much as it needs fracking itself.