Cuomo gives towns upper hand in fracking decision

ALBANY – Gov. Andrew Cuomo personally gave municipalities the upper hand in determining whether to permit natural gas companies from developing shale well sites within their jurisdictions, essentially supporting his own Department of Environmental Conservation’s earlier support of “home rule.”

Cuomo broadcast on a New York Public Radio show Monday that local sentiment would be used to determine whether the DEC will permit companies’ drilling applications or not.

“I think it’s inarguable that one should take into consideration home rule, and if you have communities that have an expressed desire to proceed, I think that should be taken into consideration if you decide to go down this road at all,” Cuomo said. “Obviously, if a community says that they oppose it, that should be taken into consideration.”

Permitting has been on hold since the DEC began reviewing high-volume hydraulic fracturing in 2008. Numerous environmental, health, and community groups are seeking a statewide ban on fracking, which frees gas from shale by injecting a well with millions of gallons of water mixed with sand, soap and chemicals at immense pressure. Opponents of drilling and fracking cite risks of water and air pollution.

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