Cuomo Gets Kudos, Scorn For Fracking Ban

ALBANY (AP) -

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is getting heaped with praise by environmentalists and scorn by business interests for a planned state ban on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, even as he insists Wednesday’s decision wasn’t his.

Residents statewide remain almost evenly split on the issue since the decision was predictable, Quinnipiac’s Mickey Carroll said Thursday.

“One area where it’s going to hurt old Andrew is in the Southern Tier. They wanted the money,” Carroll said. “Andrew Cuomo, for all the baloney that’s written about him, is a liberal Democrat.”

Marist Poll’s Lee Miringoff said the decision plays well toward a national Democratic constituency, if that was part of any calculation.

“Whether Cuomo is keeping an eye to that or not, it’s anybody’s guess,” Miringoff said. “But certainly if you ever are considering taking the show on the road, you want to be on the side of fracking that he’s on for Democrats.”

Cuomo has said for two years he’d await his health department’s analysis and let science determine the outcome.

Following his pledge again Wednesday to defer to experts on “this highly technical question,” his health and conservation commissioners described analyses that identified contamination threats to water, soil and air, the absence of reliable health studies or proof that drillers can protect the public, as well as diminishing economic prospects.

“The time to [ban fracking] is when gas prices are plummeting,” Miringoff noted. “In the short term, this cushions the blow.”

But Siena’s Steve Greenberg said only Cuomo himself can answer whether it was a political decision. He said if there was an advantage, it would have been in the fall when the governor was having trouble with the left side of the Democratic Party, making it easier for him to say now it was apolitical.

“The bottom line is supporters are going to be unhappy with this decision. Opponents of fracking are going to be happy with this decision,” Greenberg said. “Those who are unhappy are going to say, ‘See, it was a political decision.’ Those who are happy are going to say, ‘It was based on the merits.’”