Did NY Gov's Office Edit 'Politically Inconvenient' Findings of Fracking Study?
The administration of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo altered and delayed the findings of a key federal fracking study commissioned by the state, according to a review of internal government documents published on Monday.
An original draft of the United States Geological Survey (USGS) study, obtained and reported on by the Albany newspaper Capital, reportedly contained descriptions of environmental and health risks posed by the shale gas drilling technique. However, following “extensive” email communication between the USGS representatives, study authors and state officials—also obtained in “heavily redacted form” through a Freedom of Information Act request—those details were either “played down or removed” from the final published report.
“The messages reveal an active role by Cuomo’s Department of Environmental Conservation in shaping the text, and determining the timing of the report’s release,” writes Capital reporter Scott Waldman.
The study was commissioned in 2011 by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), Capital notes, as a potential stepping stone to implementing a controversial plan to begin fracking on a “limited scale” in a number of Southern Tier counties, generally found west of the Catskill Mountains along Pennsylvania’s northern border. According to the state’s contract with USGS, “the objective of the proposed study is to define a pre-shale-gas-development baseline.”
Fierce community resistance has thus far delayed those plans as local groups have repeatedly called for a permanent state-wide fracking ban to replace the temporary moratorium currently in place. The controversial drilling technique has been linked to the pollution of air and groundwater, as well the increased emission of methane, found to be a major contributor to climate change.
Anti-fracking advocates across the world are mobilizing for the 2014 Global Frackdown on October 11, during which over 200 organizations will band together for an international day of protests to call for an end to fracking and a shift to a renewable energy system.
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