The Cuomo administration is set to restart its regulatory process of the controversial natural gas drilling process known as fracking, just months after approving the process in several upstate counties on the New York/Pennsylvania border. The decision comes after pressure from environmental groups asking Cuomo to conduct more studies of hydraulic fracturing’s impact on public health. According to the New York Times, restarting the regulatory process will likely push a decision on fracking into next year.

“Andrew has a very good political antenna, and we’ve never seen anything like this in terms of grass-roots power,” Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a close confidant of Cuomo’s told the Times. “In 30 years, I have not seen anything come close to this, in terms of the mobilization of the grass roots. You’ve got 20,000 people in the state who consider themselves to be anti-frack activists. So I think that’s got to impact the political process all around.”

Opponents of hydraulic fracturing, which uses water and chemicals injected deep into the earth to access pockets of natural gas, point to the potential for health risks and contamination of the groundwater supply that come along with the process. Proponents of the drilling method say it will bring and new jobs to struggling local economies upstate.

(Photo: CREDO: Cuomo Policy Summit 8-22-2012/Flickr)