NYC mayor comes out swinging against fracking

New York City's newly-inaugurated mayor, Bill de Blasio, made it clear he's opposed to hydraulic fracturing in New York State in a speech to fellow mayors in Washington D.C. on Thursday.

De Blasio told the U.S. Conference of Mayors that "the one thing I am firm about is that I don't see any place for fracking," Capital New York reports. The mayor spoke in favor of a statewide moratorium: 

“The science simply isn’t reliable enough," de Blasio said on Thursday. "The technology isn’t reliable enough. And there’s too much danger to our water supply, to our environment in general. So my view is that there should be a moratorium on fracking in New York State until the day comes that we can actually prove it’s safe, and I don’t think that day is coming any time soon.”

De Blasio's position is likely to earn him some eye-rolling from drilling advocates upstate, but the mayor is sticking to a more consistent line on the topic than his predecessor did. The Capital New York article notes that former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg was a supporter of hydraulic fracturing -- although not in the city's unfiltered, 1,600-square-mile west-of-Hudson watershed.

Under the Bloomberg administration, in 2009, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection called on state environmental regulators to forbid gas drilling in the watershed and near the city's massive (and leaky) underground aqueducts. In 2012, Bloomberg told reporters that he thought fracking could be done safely outside the watershed

The Bloomberg administration's stance on fracking has come under fire from both drilling opponents -- who have accused city officials of not caring about the wells and water supplies of those outside New York City -- and pro-drilling advocates in the watershed, who felt the city was seeking to infringe on the property rights of landowners

In draft regulations, the state Department of Environmental Conservation has proposed a ban on hydraulic fracturing in all unfiltered watersheds in the state. But with the regulations in limbo, waiting on a review of research by the state Health Department that has no clear timetable, the issue is currently moot.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has dropped few clues as to when the state might act on the proposed regulations. But Albany tea-leaf-readers, take note: The governor has proposed a 5.5 percent budget cut for the DEC for 2014, a move that seems on its face to conflict with releasing new gas drilling regulations this year.