The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Fracking Safe in NY State, Says Leaked Report

Thanks to a leak from an anonymous insider, we learned Thursday that a report commissioned by the State of New York has given fracking a clean bill of health. The insider “did not think it should be kept secret” and released the document, which is now nearly one year old, to the New York Times, which reported:

The state’s Health Department found in an analysis it prepared early last year that the much-debated drilling technology known as hydrofracking could be conducted safely in New York.

The eight-page analysis is a summary of previous research by the state and others…[that] delves into the potential impact of fracking on water resources, on naturally occurring radiological material found in the ground, on air emissions and on “potential socioeconomic and quality-of-life impacts.”…[It] concludes that fracking can be done safely.

The analysis and other health assessments have been closely guarded by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and his administration as the governor weighs whether to approve fracking. Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, has long delayed making a decision, unnerved in part by strident opposition on his party’s left.

This is very good news. Contrary to green fears that fracking is a mortal danger to both humans and the environment, this report finds exactly the opposite, arguing that fracking “can be done safely within the regulatory system that the state has been developing for several years.” With the environmental concerns largely settled, the ground is now set for New York to claim its share of the energy revolution and the jobs and industry that come with it.

Unfortunately, the fact that the Cuomo Administration attempted to keep the report a secret suggests that Albany was nonetheless worried about a green backlash. And rightfully so: New York’s greens have responded to the leak with characteristic force:

Environmental groups have long complained that the state has refused to make documents about its health assessments public.

“The document itself is not a health impact study at all,” said Katherine Nadeau, the water and natural resources program director at Environmental Advocates of New York, who has reviewed it. “As drafted it is merely a defense or justification as to why the administration didn’t do a rigorous study.”

Greens are quick to defend their climate change position with scientific evidence and have positioned themselves as a movement wedded to science. But it is becoming increasingly apparent that evidence is a flag of convenience for a movement that is rooted in emotion and passion far more than it likes to admit.

Let us hope that Governor Cuomo and his administration see this report for the good news that it is.

Published on January 5, 2013 3:00 pm