Cuomo Administration Undermined Fracking Study

The administration of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has already faced severe criticism after attempting to sabotage a corruption investigation by stopping political consultants that had done business with the Cuomo for Governor campaign from being interviewed by investigators.

Now it has been revealed by Capital New York that the Cuomo Administration delayed and edited an important fracking study when it appeared that the initial results would be politically problematic.

Hydraulic fracturing or Fracking has proven to be a politically toxic issue due to concerns that the process can lead to contamination of ground water near the sites where the process is conducted. Many locations where fracking occurs are near water supplies and in some cases nearby residents have complained about contaminated drinking water.

The original version of the fracking study would have made it more difficult for Governor Cuomo to support various energy projects around New York state that used fracking in places that needed access to clean water.

A comparison of the original draft of the study on naturally occurring methane in water wells across the gas-rich Southern Tier with the final version of the report, which came out after extensive communications between the federal agency and Cuomo administration officials, reveals that some of the authors’ original descriptions of environmental and health risks associated with fracking were played down or removed.

The final version of the report also excised a reference to risks associated with gas pipelines and underground storage—a reference which could have complicated the Cuomo administration’s potential support for a number of other controversial energy projects, including a proposed gas storage facility in the Finger Lakes region that local wine makers say could destroy their burgeoning industry.

So Cuomo Administration officials were seemingly faced with a dilemma – support the energy projects to make campaign donors happy or support the public health concerns of residents. But there was an apparent third option – support the energy interests and try to subvert the public health argument so residents would not know how dangerous the fracking process is in the first.

Unfortunately for Governor Cuomo it is harder to mislead people when they don’t trust you to begin with. So while this deceptive strategy to promote fracking while undermining studies that showed it was dangerous worked the first time, people won’t be so trusting next time. Next time Governor Cuomo may have to make the hard choice between appeasing money interests and protecting public health rather than tell the easy lie that both can be done without cost.

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