Friday, July 15, 2011

Notes on "An Announcement for Andrew Cuomo on Hyrdaulic Fracturing"

For Andrew Cuomo I think the answer to the hydrofracking issue comes down to this: I am not a scientist. You’re probably not a scientist. These people are the experts we chose to advise us on this matter, but the public largely doesn’t accept their findings. So, let’s send it back to a new group scientists. Eventually there will probably be a solution that makes drilling safe and then we will need to make sure that solution is properly enforced.

Originally I was going to have Cuomo call for a doubling of the areas around drinking sources where drilling would be prohibited. That makes sense, would be supported by the public, and appeals to a desire for cautiousness. The thinking goes that if 500 feet is probably safe, then 1,000 feet is definitely safe. But the moment you talk about modifying that specific regulation you set yourself up as the final arbiter of every recommendation made by scientists. The most useful regulatory powers aren’t specified by lawmakers, but are rather broad tools handed to an agency along with a powerful mandate. This also happens to be easier to support politically.

The risks of just lifting the moratorium are too great for the governor. The people who feel strongly about this issue are overwhelmingly against it. He needs to address their concerns and persuade those who can be persuaded. Being tough on the drilling corporations is an extremely good way to begin gaining the trust of these groups. At the end of the day he needs to make it abundantly clear that the state has given this subject the full time and consideration it deserves, and something like this is how you do that.

Thanks to Dan Barbato for his advice on this topic!

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