Earlier this week, CBS reported that New York state will roll out new guidelines to allow fracking sometime after Labor Day. It’s a vague story, to be sure, but it meshes with reports from late June about fracking companies getting an early peek at the restrictions.
There’s another reason to believe a rule is imminent: both pro- and anti-fracking groups have taken to the airwaves along the state’s southern border with Pennsylvania. That’s the region most likely to be cleared for new drilling, sitting on the northern rim of the natural gas-permeated Marcellus shale.
The Times reports on the advertising battle:
Two coalitions of landowners and businesses that support hydrofracking began a new advertising campaign last week, arguing that fracking would be an important source of new jobs and economic activity. Those groups are running an advertisement in newspapers in the Southern Tier, as well as 30- and 60-second radio ads in Albany and the Southern Tier, that focus on President Obama’s support for expanding natural gas production; the ads are scheduled to continue for several weeks.
The radio advertisements include Mr. Obama saying, at an appearance in Cincinnati last month, that “there are a lot of folks right now that are engaging in hydraulic fracking who are doing it safely.”
“We agree with you, Mr. President,” a voice says. “Governor Cuomo, please listen to the experts: issue clear, statewide guidelines for safe natural gas development now.”
On the other side of the debate is Food and Water Watch, which released this ad:
No politician enjoys making a decision on a controversial issue. And opinion on fracking in New York is about evenly split; a poll from the Siena Institute [PDF] suggests:
Sixty-three percent of likely voters say they have heard or read at least some about [the Department of Environmental Conservation]’s expected decision on hydrofracking, down slightly from 66 percent of voters in May. Currently, 39 percent of voters support DEC allowing hydrofracking to move forward in New York and 38 percent oppose it (it was 37-36 percent in May).
Hence the advertising push. The more support advocates and opponents demonstrate to lawmakers in the region and in Albany, the more likely it is that politicians will feel comfortable making a tough call.
If CBS is right — which seems likely — that call is coming shortly.
Update: A large anti-fracking protest greeted New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo today.