The Corbett Administration has a well-worn line, when it comes to explaining its approach to regulating natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale. It needs to be based on science, not emotion.
“We need to protect the environment,” Governor Tom Corbett told the State Association of Township Supervisors in April, “but we must do it based on science and not emotion.”
The Republican’s drilling point man, Lieutenant Governor Jim Cawley, loves the phrase. During the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission’s closing meeting, he said, “one of the most significant challenges for us has been separating fact from fiction. The governor wants recommendations based on science, not on emotion or desire for profits.” He kicked off an August 8th Philly.Com livechat with the exact same statement, and on July 29th, challenged a Schuylkill County drilling panel to “get to the truth, get to the science,” of hydraulic fracturing.
Perhaps New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has been listening. During a fair visit yesterday, the Democrat told reporters drilling regulation should be based “on science, not emotion or anecdotes.” According to the Albany Times-Union, it’s a regular Cuomo quotation.
New York State trails Pennsylvania, when it comes to shale development. The Empire State has slapped an effective moratorium on fracking, as it develops drilling regulations. Cuomo wants to end the ban, but impose strict rules on drilling, which would bar gas extraction “within the upstate watersheds for New York City and Syracuse, on state-owned land and around certain aquifers, but would allow drilling on private land ‘with rigorous and effective protections,’” as the New York Times reported.
Update: Jimmy Vielkind, a Times-Union reporter and Friend-of-the-Blog, provides the full fracking exchange. Cuomo says “science,” “emotion,” or a combination of the two words six times.
Q: What do you say, in general, to folks who came here today to talk to you about fracking?
A: “I understand the emotion, and you’re right, I have heard both sides many times over many, many months. My basic point is, let’s make the decision based on science and not emotion. I understand the emotion. Let’s make the decision based on science. That’s what DEC is all about, in making the decision based on facts. We understand the possible economic benefits, we understand the possible danger to the environment. Let’s make the decision based on the facts, and that’s what the DEC process is all about.”
Q: The volume is down now.
A: “I don’t think it was ever about the volume and how much gas was there. We understand the economic advantages, and we understand the advantages to the energy industry, right? For clean energy, et cetera. And we understand the peril, and the possible danger, damage to the environment. And it’s weighing that on the science, on the facts. Not emotion, not anecdotes, not rampant speculation but on the facts.”