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Dr. Nirav Shah, New York State Health Commissioner. Photo: NYS DOH
Dr. Nirav Shah, New York State Health Commissioner. Photo: NYS DOH

Fracking not in NY's economic development plans

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Governor Cuomo, who still has not issued a decision on whether hydro fracking should be allowed in New York, is backing further away from the controversial gas drilling process in his economic development plans for the future.

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Reported by

Karen DeWitt
NYS Capitol Correspondent

Two years ago, Governor Cuomo considered hydro fracking a key component of his plans for economic development in the faltering upstate regions of the state.

Now, with a decision stalled over a months- long health review by the Administration,  Cuomo is spending more time focusing on other ideas, like expanding casino gambling to three upstate regions,  and  attracting businesses through a  tax free offer for tech start ups near all  SUNY campuses upstate and on Long Island.

“Which are 100% tax free communities that will be located all across the State of New York,” Cuomo told a cheering crowd at the SUNY Albany Nanotech College.   

New businesses would pay no taxes for the first decade, even employees would not owe any income taxes.

Governor Cuomo was asked recently at a press conference about how fracking fits into his economic development plans.  His answer : It doesn’t.

“There’s been no change in where we are on fracking,” Cuomo said. “That’s not what I was referring to when I was talking about economic development ideas.”

The governor’s Health Commissioner, Dr. Nirav Shah, also said recently he continues to examine large scale studies being conduct by the EPA and in Pennsylvania on the long term health effects of fracking.

“My plan is to continue to work on this until I am confortable that we have a good review,” said Shah, who says the science on fracking continues to be a “moving target”.

Anti fracking groups held the latest of numerous protests at the State Capitol, this time joining up with tenant activists and advocates for campaign finance reform. Roger Downs, with the Sierra Club, says while “no news is good news” on fracking going forward in New York,  he’d like to see a more definitive answer from Cuomo.

“I think that he realizes that there’s an economic development downside to fracking, I think he’s very nervous about it,” said Downs. “But the public deserves to know what he intends to do.”

Downs and others are seeking another state moratorium on fracking. The measure has already passed the State Assembly, but is stalled in the Senate. It would take the gas drilling process out of consideration for economic development or any other plans for at least two years.

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