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Cuomo, still weighing decision, says natural gas economic benefits 'inarguable'

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo will host President Barack

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo will host President Barack Obama during the president's visit to upstate New York. (July 2, 2013) Photo Credit: AP

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who hasn’t decided yet on natural gas drilling, will greet President Barack Obama, who supports drilling, this Thursday in Buffalo.

Obama is making a swing through upstate New York, with other stops in Syracuse and Binghamton -- the latter is the epicenter of the natural gas debate in the state. The president has been bullish on natural gas -- as a result, some coal-industry officials more or less say he’s trying to shut them down to boost the need for natural gas.

 In New York, Cuomo has been considering whether to green light high-volume, horizontal hydraulic fracturing for natural gas for three years. He's been aggressive on almost every other high-profile issue but avoided a decision on this one, pushing back more than one deadline.

Cuomo said Obama’s point that “fracking,” as it is known, has economic benefits is “inarguable.” A report issued last week said that natural gas production in neighboring Pennsylvania has risen 50 percent.

 “Every area that has participated in fracking will tell you that it’s increased commercial activity and it has an economic boost effect,” Cuomo said on “The Capitol Pressroom,” a public-radio program. “The question is: Is there a cost to the environment, et cetera? And that’s what has to be assessed and that’s what has to be weighed and that’s what we’re going through now.” 

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