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Fracking

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Two former Pennsylvania state officials have some advice for New York’s leaders dithering over the future of hydraulic fracturing in the state: Put aside your hypocrisy and move ahead with it.

Pennsylvania has reaped tremendous economic benefits from fracking, which uses millions of gallons of water treated with sand and chemicals to break apart rock to release natural gas and oil. The drilling boom in the Marcellus Shale, which extends under New York state, and nationwide has created jobs and boosted local economies through support of the industry and has substantially reduced energy bills.

New York, though, banned fracking in 2008 pending a study of its environmental impact. The state appeared ready to lift the ban until Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo earlier this year yielded to fracking opponents and asked the state Health Department to assess health issues.

As a result, the state Department of Environmental Conservation missed a Thursday deadline to finalize fracking regulations that could lead to lifting the moratorium and applied for a 90-day extension. It will allow the DEC to issue a revised set of rules and take into account the Health Department review rather than start the regulatory process over. The new rules will be subject to a 30-day comment period through mid-Jaunary, meaning a decision on drilling will be delayed well into next year.

However, former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell has offered his advice, telling Gov. Cuomo that “New York would be crazy not to lift the moratorium.”

Fracking opponents objected to the DEC’s extension of the rule-making process, but they aren’t objecting to the lower natural gas and utility bills resulting from a process they want to ban. That has not escaped the attention of Pennsylvania’s former environmental commissioner, John Hanger, who told the New York Post, “I do find it stunningly hypocritical to buy gas that comes from fracking wells somewhere (else) in the U.S. and then say fracking is bad.”

Maybe New Yorkers so adamantly opposed to fracking should stand by their principle and purchase higher priced natural gas from sources they find more suitable to them.

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