There was a moment in last's night's gubernatorial debate when Governor Andrew Cuomo broke some fracking news.
In response to a question about fracking, Cuomo said that he expects a long-awaited report from the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of Health by the end of the year. Previously, he'd only said that the report wouldn't come prior to this year's elections.
Whether that means that the state plans to approve fracking is unclear. During last night's debate, Cuomo said that he'd defer to the scientists reviewing the matter, which has consistently been his position. Republican candidate Rob Astorino said that as governor, he'd green-light fracking; Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins said he'd ban it; and Libertarian candidate Michael McDermott said that he opposes fracking and that industrial hemp is a promising industry that the state should encourage.
New York has had a de facto moratorium on high-volume hydraulic fracturing since 2008, when state officials initiated an environmental review of the natural gas extraction technique. That evaluation must be completed before the state could issue high-volume fracking permits.
In 2012, State Health Department Commissioner Dr. Nirav Shah, who has since left the job, began a review of fracking's potential health impacts. The review was supposed to take a few weeks, but no report has been released yet.
Otherwise, last night's gubernatorial debate offered little that the public hasn't already heard. Cuomo, a Democrat, and Astorino, a Republican, took jabs at each other, with Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins taking a couple of shots at Cuomo and Astorino. Hawkins and McDermott largely used the debate to explain the basics of their platforms, a smart approach since they don't get the same media exposure as Cuomo and Astorino.