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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Steve Israel: State Senate leader blocked fracking-health study

We all know about the headline-grabbing items that were part of the New York state budget deal: increased education aid, a casino commission and that closed-door, self-promoting redistricting deal.
But we didn't hear much about what was left out of the budget:
A relatively measly $100,000 for a study on the health impacts of the controversial natural gas extraction method of hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," which uses sand, water and chemicals to fracture underground rock and extract the gas.
Environmental groups and anti-drilling organizations lobbied intensely for the study. The Assembly even included the money for a SUNY study in the proposed budget.
But Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos — one of the three men in the room who brokered the budget deal — wouldn't go for it. The reason, said a spokesman for Skelos, is that the Long Island Republican is waiting for the Department of Environmental Conservation to complete its review of fracking. That's the same reason Gov. Andrew Cuomo has reportedly given for not supporting the health study.