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Environmental groups target Cuomo

March 6, 2013

In a full-page ad in Albany’s Legislative Gazette, the grassroots organization Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy and the environmental law firm Community Environmental Defense Council (CEDC) call on Governor Andrew Cuomo to demonstrate leadership on hydraulic fracturing. The question of whether New York should permit high volume fracking has been debated for years, but the state still has not developed a coherent approach to the issue.

“Governor Cuomo has repeatedly promised us that ‘science, not politics’ will decide the fate of fracking, but where’s the science?” asks Catskill Citizens’ Kate Bowers. “After two years in office, the governor still hasn’t ordered an independent health impact assessment, something the medical community insists is vital if the state is to make an informed decision.”

Economist Jannette Barth also signed onto the ad. She’s been calling for an indepth, economic analysis of shale gas extraction for years. “The notion that fracking the Marcellus Shale will automatically benefit the state and local communities is simply not supported by the facts. One only has to look at the extreme poverty and endemic health problems in the coal mining regions of Appalachia to realize extractive industries can impoverish communities.”

CEDC Attorneys Helen and David Slottje are concerned that the governor will not stand up to the gas industry and protect rural residents. “The right of a community to control its own destiny is guaranteed by the New York State Constitution, but the governor has indicated he might try to overturn local laws if they get in the way of fracking,” says David Slottje. (Last summer Governor Cuomo was quoted as saying “You could override local government, or you could say, ‘Well we’re going to respect home rule if it coincides with the obvious and necessary ramp up period anyway.’”) Over the last three years CEDC has helped scores of municipalities enact moratoria and zoning ordinances that prohibit fracking.