Niagara Gazette

February 13, 2013

Cuomo's new title is 'Hamlet on the Shale'

By DON GLYNN
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo must have winced Wednesday when he glanced at the New York Times article that stated he was becoming 'Hamlet on the Shale.'

It was an obvious reference to Shakespeare's character known for being overly analytical and indecisive. In this case, it's all about Cuomo's apparent reluctance to push the agenda on the thorny issue of hydraulic fracturing, the drilling system to extract natural gas from rock formations like the Marcellus Shale that extends from the Appalachians to the Southern Tier of New York. The controversial process has been under review for the past couple of years — even before Cuomo was sworn into office — so the disappointment and frustration over the delay is somewhat understandable. 

In an effort to explain the additional delay, state Health Commissioner Dr. Nirav R. Shah said his agency was still reviewing the potential effects on health from the drilling. Since that report is unlikely to be completed by the deadline this month, it may be necessary to start the overall regulatory process again. That  would mean another 45-day comment period.

Initially, the governor had cited hydraulic fracturing as a potential factor for creating jobs and promoting economic development. 

An editorial in the New York Post on Wednesday noted the coincidence of Cuomo's decision to delay action on the fracking issue and the same-day ad in the DesMoines Register warning him not to approve such drilling in New York. The Register is published in Iowa, the traditional launching pad for the presidential primaries. The Post  editors also asked if there was any better evidence that Cuomo's interests in fracking lie not in what it might mean for New York's depressed economy but what it could mean for his chances in the 2016 presidential race.

Despite the latest delay, Joseph Martens, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, said New York could still decide to grant gas-drilling permits relatively quickly if the Health Department study puts to rest concerns about harmful effects to the water supply or other risks to the environment.  

By the way, it should be noted that the governor's father, Mario Cuomo, was known as 'Hamlet on the Hudson' when he resided in the Executive Mansion.

•••

ON THE PRESS: "Scribblin' For A Living: Mark Twain's Pivotal Period in Buffalo," by Thomas J. Reigstad (Promethus Books, 301 pages, paperback, $19) is bound to appeal to anyone with an interest in the famous journalist who once edited the Buffalo Morning Express, a forerunner to the now-defunct Buffalo Courier-Express. The book set for publication in March also offers a fascinating glimpse of Western New York history.

Reigstad, a Twain scholar and Kenmore resident, is emeritus professor of English at the State University College at Buffalo.

•••

TROUBLE MAKERS: On a recent cable television show Lockport Mayor Michael Tucker was asked about the popular summer concert series in his city. The mayor said the events have been successful with the public, except for the frequent intrusions of kids (13 to 15 years old) who just hang out past the curfew. Tucker said that even if they're taken to the police station it doesn't solve the problem because it's often difficult to find the parents.

•••

MARK THE CALENDAR: Forget the frigid temperatures and those snow mounds at the end of the driveway. Think green! 

After all, it's only 31 days until St. Patrick's Day. Plans already are in the works for 'The World's Shortest Parade.'

•••

OUT OF THE PAST: Longtime basketball fans of the Little Three Conference vividly remember Larry O'Connor, who starred on the Canisius College teams in the 1950s. O'Connor dominated the action —especially in 1952 — when he led the Griffins with 18.7 points and 15 rebounds per game. Those conference games (Niagara, Canisius and St. Bonaventure) were usually sold out at the 12,500-seat Memorial Auditorium in downtown Buffalo. O'Connor, 80, a member of the Canisius College Sports Hall of Fame, died Feb. 7 in Tonawanda.

•••

CALORIE COUNTER: Overheard in a Youngstown restaurant: "I wonder how many vegetables had to die to make this salad" — a customer glancing at the bowl in front of him. 

Contact reporter Don Glynn at 282-2311, ext. 2246.