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Hydro-Fracking Issue Follows Cuomo On The Campaign Trail


Andrew Cuomo may have high approval ratings, but the Democratic gubernatorial candidate was twice confronted by protesters Thursday as he swung through central New York over plan to tap natural gas. NY1’s Josh Robin filed the following report.

The roving Cuomo camp hit a speed bump in the Finger Lakes region this week.

At issue was hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, which is tapping natural gas well below the ground. It's a process environmentalists describe as dangerous and dirty.

Drills are lowered vertically, and sometimes horizontally. Chemicals and waters are sprayed in, coaxing the gas out of the rock.

“We need to have [Cuomo] speak very clearly, very succinctly about what he wants to do about this immense challenge to his administration, if he gets elected,” said Walter Hang of the advocacy group Toxic Targeting.

At stake is drinking water, not only along the state's southern border, but also millions of taps in New York City, where water is pumped in from upstate.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is opposed to drilling in the watershed, and earlier this year won tough state regulations there.

As for the rest of the state, Cuomo is waiting for a final review. But critics’ charge that based on a preliminary examination, the document promises to be woefully inadequate.

What's more, after protesters came out by the dozens, some were peeved Cuomo didn't take questions from the podium.

“I suspect that’s because he didn’t want an embarrassing political moment,” said one environmental activist.

“I feel like he’s listening. I don’t feel like he knows the facts,” said another. “Perhaps he does. That’s just my guess.”

The candidate did spend a total of about 20 minutes speaking one on one.

“If there’s an economic advantage to pursue, we should pursue; however, we should not pursue it unless and until we know that environmentally it is safe,” Cuomo said. “

On the other side of the issue are those concerned about jobs. They say this long economically-troubled area could benefit from the lucrative drilling contracts.

“They’re going to bring jobs. They’re going to bring shopping. They’re going to bring families,” said Montour Falls Mayor Donna Kelley. “They’re going to bring other companies that work with these gas wall people. And it’s just going to be growth.

As for Cuomo, he tried some compliments to woo voters – that their activism is welcome and needed.

The final report was once due at the end of the year. Now state officials say they have no timetable – meaning the next governor is very likely to be the one facing the decision of whether to drill or not.