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Cuomo says health review of hydrofracking is "no step back"

New York state recently decided to conduct a health review of the controversial natural gas extraction method, hydrofracking. This will likely cause a November deadline to be missed and the public comment period to be re-opened. However, during a visit to Syracuse on Tuesday Governor Cuomo denied that he is stalling the process, saying a delay in the state’s decision on allowing hydrofracking is not a “step back.”Cuomo says the health review is in response to requests by environmentalists, who had wanted an outside survey. The governor says his agencies can do a better job. 

“We did agree that we could do more work on the public health review because it’s important for everyone. And we said the state will conduct it, but we will make ourselves – avail ourselves – of specialized, discrete expertise of the private sector,” he said.

He says conducting the health review will protect the state better against the lawsuits that are likely to happen.

“It will be a stronger review to withstand a legal challenge,” Cuomo explained. 

Although the review process has already stretched on for more than four years, the new delays mean fracking probably won’t begin until at least next year. That has angered some leaseholders hoping to make a profit from fracking.  

Environmentalists say they are cautiously optimistic.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.