Niagara Gazette

April 24, 2014

GLYNN: New York still delays decision on hydrofracking

By DON GLYNN
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Many people across the state remain puzzled why the decision to allow hydrofracking has been delayed for so long.

The answer it seems is Gov. Cuomo insists the administration conduct a thorough health study on the controversial process of drilling for natural gas. For the record, a number of other states have already completed comprehensive studies but that task didn’t take 18 months. To compound matters, much of the process and review to date has been in total secrecy.

The Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association, a group that raised serious concerns about the risks involved, even filed a Freedom of Information request, asking for documents and related communications about the study. A spokesman said that when the group finally received the available documents, they were convinced that the administration was, in fact, committed to a thorough review of numerous studies. They also were impressed with the reputable sources that were consulted. So, maybe the public should be more acceptable of the delay.

The overall review process was not helped when state Health Commissioner Dr. Nirav Shah suddenly resigned to take a post with the California-based Kaiser Foundation. Ironically, earlier that same day Rob Astorino, Cuomo’s opponent in this year’s election, had asked Shah to quit.

Fracking is the process of deep drilling into the earth and using small explosions and a mix of water, sand and chemicals to smash the shale rock formations that contain natural gas and oil. Proponents contend that fracking would be a major step toward combatting high energy prices. Critics argue that the waste water might poison drinking water wells and public water supplies in additon to causing air pollution and heavy truck traffic.

Much of the Marcellus Shale — where fracking has been under way for some time — is in northern Pennsylvania. The geologic formation, however, also stretches from the Southern Tier in New York to Ohio and West Virginia.

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OFF THE PRESS: “Energy & Light In Nineteenth-Century Western New York,” by Douglas Wayne Houck (The History Press, 160 pages, paperback, $21.99). Houck, who grew up on a farm near Forestville, N.Y., now divides his time between Westfield, N.Y., and Punta Gorda, Fla. The author provides an informative story of the first commercial developments of natural gas and petroleum products in the 1800s.

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UPSTATE ENTRY: Owners of the Traditions Resort and Conference Center in Broome County have submitted the $1 million application fee to the state to build a casino. That state constitutional amendment approved last year authorizes casinos in the Albany-Saratoga area, the Catskills, and the Southern Tier.

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CHEERLEADING: No one is keeping an exact count but Assemblyman John D. Ceretto  R-Lewiston, appears to be among the front runners in state lawmakers pumping out press releases from Albany. 

This past week, for instance, he promised to work with “potential suitors” to assure that the Buffalo Bills will remain in Western New York. He also is excited about the prospects of a partnership between the Bills and the City of Niagara Falls. On another matter. Ceretto seeks to explore ways to bring high-wire artist Nik Wallenda back to this area. That should have happened for this tourist season but Wallenda has opted to spend the summer at Darien Lake. Obviously he needs some kind of venue in the Cataract City for his performances and there is nothing now on the horizon.

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TRIVIA QUIZ: Name the eye-catching New York State landmark ‘destroyed’ in the 1997 film “Men in Black.”  It is, of course, still standing. (Answer Sunday)

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

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