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Fracking Issues Discussed After Cuomo Wins Another Term

One issue that wasn't on the ballot but was very much on the mind of many voters in the area: fracking.

Now that Governor Cuomo has won re-election, could his victory finally spur a decision on whether the state will allow the drilling practice?

Pro and Anti-Fracking Groups Will Greet President in Binghamton

Another big element of the President's visit will of course be both the pro and anti fracking groups that are expected to be on hand as he arrives in Binghamton:

And the fireworks have already begun.

Anti-Frackers Respond to Cuomo's Comments

With Governor Cuomo making positive comments about the economic benefits of fracking in advance of President Obama's visit to Binghamton Friday, reaction continues to come in.

Cuomo: Decision On Fracking By 2014 Election

Too soon or not soon enough? Governor Andrew Cuomo says he'll have his decision on fracking by the 2014 election.

Written reports say the Democratic Governors been waiting for State Health Commisioner, Dr. Nirav Shah's health review before making any decision on hydraulic fracturing.

Activists Write Governor Cuomo on Health Impact Study

Anti-fracking activists continue to barrage Governor Cuomo with calls for a health impact study of the drilling process.

Fracking Health Campaign

Activists who want to keep the state's moratorium on fracking are pressuring the governor to open the state's health review of the drilling practice open to the public.

They also came armed with maps showing current toxic sites and locations of uncapped wells in New York State to argue the d-e-c hasn't been able to properly regulate conventional drilling. State DEC commissioner Joe Martens said his department won't set forth fracking regulations before the health review is finished.

"It is being undertaken completely in secret. There has never been a single piece of paper released to the public about the scope of the Department of Health review, about how it is being undertaken," said Walter Hang of Toxics Targeting.

"New York state had a great record and that's why we didn't have to recreate the wheel? Well it's clear we have to recreate the wheel especially for an industry that is far more intrusive than vertical drilling," said Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan.

Fracking Protesters Send Message to Governor

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Governor Cuomo stayed silent on the issue of fracking during his State of the State Address today. Judging by the crowd in the halls leading to Cuomo's speech, he was one of the few who did.

"I've worked here for 35 years. I've never seen this kind of demonstration. It is an unmistakable message to the Governor - 'Don't go forward with fracking,'" said Walter Hang of Toxics Targeting.

"$500 million or more has been spend on the GEISs (Generic Environmental Impact Statements). It's time to move forward," said landowner Vic Furman of Chenango Forks.

With public comment on the state's Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement ending Friday, anti-fracking activists pushed their message on one of the highest-profile days of the state's political calendar.

"Governor Cuomo, that is shameful. Your state scientists and health professionals are calling on you. Enough with the improvisational, ad hoc, made-up studies that serve to justify a public health atrocity," said author and ecologist Dr. Sandra Steingraber.

Is Public Comment Period End of Fracking Review?

The 30-day public comment period which began today is part of the 90-day extension the state DEC is using to finish it's fracking review. That 90-day period ends February 27th - a date pro-gas supporters say will be the finish line in the battle to bring fracking to New York.

"For many this means the process of implementing regulations to proceed with the SGEIS and drilling in New York is almost done," said Scott Kurkowski, attorney for the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York.

Not surprisingly, those in favor of keeping the moratorium on fracking disagree.

"That's wishful thinking on a level that's unsupported by the facts," said Walter Hang of Toxics Targeting.

Hang says three things have to happen for the state's fracking review to end: it needs to finish it's health review, complete the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement, and complete the rule making for fracking.

"So it's an extraordinarily challenging scenario where all three of those bureaucratic hurdles would be surmounted," said Hang.

Many groups question health review & fracking delay

With word that the state's health review of hydrofracking will force it to miss a November 29th deadline that opens the door for more public comment and potentially longer delays in gas-drilling regulations, pro-fracking interests are - not surprisingly - upset.

"It was never necessary for the DEC to go back to the drawing board. I think what we're seeing is a lot of claims and fear mongering that is turning out not to be true," said Jim Smith, spokesperson for the Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York.

But anti-fracking activists are upset as well. Walter Hang of Toxics Targeting has led the charge to keep the state's moratorium on fracking in place. But he says because the review is limited to the DEC's own report instead of a comprehensive review of fracking's health and environmental impact.

"It fundamentally fails to address the critical questions: What's the broad spectrum of toxic pollutants associated with fracking. What happens to those pollutants when they're released into the environment?" asks Hang.


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