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Cuomo and fracking

Capital New York:

Andrew Cuomo has a problem that can't be solved by any amount of legislative horse-trading, or any number of cajoling phone calls.

Upstate business interests, and many residents, want the governor to open parts of New York State to hydraulic fracturing, in order to generate revenue and jobs in the economically moribund region.

But environmental activists want the opposite, and have threatened to brand Cuomo a traitor and a sellout, and to forever dog his future ambitions, if Cuomo allows any drilling at all.

At some point, maybe soon, Cuomo will make a decision about whether to allow fracking under certain circumstances or to ban it indefinitely. But while he and his administration can delay a final decision, as they did again on Tuesday, he can't really finesse it.

On fracking, there is no Cuomoesque middle ground.

"NOT ONE WELL," read a full-page ad in the Des Moines Register on Tuesday morning, in an unsubtle nod to Cuomo's undeclared plans for 2016.

"Governor Cuomo, America is looking to you," said the ad, which was sponsored by a consortium of environmental groups including Greenpeace. "Don't allow a single fracked shale gas well in New York. This is your chance to be a national leader on climate. Your choice now will be remembered forever."

The predicament has given the governor pause, with the administration missing a series of deadlines in the name of ever more studies of the potential impact of drilling. On Tuesday, the state health commissioner, Nirav Shah, said in a letter that the state's health review will "require additional time to complete," meaning the state will not meet a February deadline.

The issue defies the usual political methods of Cuomo, who has been lauded by pundits, and rewarded in the polls by the public, for his ability to negotiate compromises among competing interests in Albany.

The public is evenly split on the issue, with 40 percent in favor, and 40 percent opposed, according to a Siena poll last week.

Interesting, especially the 2016 [!!] jab.

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