New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he will make the long-delayed decision on whether to lift a moratorium on high-volume hydraulic fracturing (HVHF) before the next gubernatorial election in 2014.
During an editorial board meeting with the Post-Standard of Syracuse, NY, on May 22, Cuomo said he was still waiting for state Department of Health Commissioner Nirav Shah to complete a health impact analysis of HVHF (see Shale Daily, Sept. 24, 2012).
Cuomo spokesman Josh Vlasto could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
The 2014 New York gubernatorial election will take place on Nov. 4, 2014. Cuomo, a Democrat, is eligible to run for re-election, although he has not formally announced his intention to do so. He was elected to his first term as governor in 2010.
"We were expecting something last year and the year before," Jim Smith, spokesman for the Independent Oil & Gas Association of New York (IOGA), told NGI's Shale Daily on Tuesday. "It would be another great disappointment if we had to wait until days or weeks before the election to hear a decision from the state.
"He was asked the question about the election because there is so much speculation that he's waiting until after the election. And so he answered the question that was asked: 'Will it be before the election?' It was really about the election, not about hydrofracking or natural gas development. I think I know why he answered it that way, but we would expect a decision very soon. To wait five years, there is something other than science at play."
Asked if IOGA was surprised by Cuomo's comments, Smith said, "We're not surprised by anything at this point."
But David Laska, spokesman for the New York Republican State Committee, said he doubted that Cuomo would make a decision before the election.
"Anyone who believes that Gov. Cuomo will make a decision on fracking before the 2014 election probably also believes that New York is 'open for business,' just because Robert De Niro says so," Laska told NGI's Shale Daily on Tuesday. He added that the Democratic governor "has been trying to have it both ways on fracking from the start; he's too afraid of his political left to grant permits and too afraid of his political right to ban fracking outright.
"While Andrew Cuomo tries to make the best political decision for Andrew Cuomo, New York's tax climate and business climate remain the worst in the nation, and our unemployment rate remains above the national rate."
The Republicans have not yet selected a candidate for governor in 2014.
New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joseph Martens asked Shah to conduct the health impact analysis of HVHF last September, before the DEC completed a supplemental generic environmental impact statement (SGEIS) on HVHF.
Nearly one year ago, Cuomo administration officials hinted that HVHF could first be allowed in five counties along the Pennsylvania border -- Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Steuben and Tioga -- provided that DEC grants regulatory approval (see Shale Daily, June 14, 2012).
This month the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research concluded that personal income for the residents of 28 counties in New York that overlay the Marcellus Shale could grow by 15% or more over the next four years, if the state lifted the HVHF moratorium (see Shale Daily, May 9).
Meanwhile, the New York State Petroleum Council launched a series of free public webinars on fracking, and landowners in western New York filed a lawsuit against Norse Energy Corp. USA after the company declared a force majeure, citing the HVHF moratorium, and extended oil and gas leases (see Shale Daily, May 22; May 21).
In July 2008, then-Gov. David Paterson ordered the DEC to complete the SGEIS, which effectively placed a moratorium on drilling horizontal wells. Paterson requested the SGEIS because the original impact statement was completed in 1992, before technological changes in unconventional development.