UPDATE 11/24 GRISANTI OUT AS DEC COMMISSIONER
“Environmental groups got nervous this week when they heard rumblings that the governor would tap soon-to-be-former Sen. Mark Grisanti to replace Joe Martens as head of the DEC.
Martens, who had a considerable environmental background before joining the administration, has been with the governor since 2011.
Grisanti is the outgoing Senate Environmental Conservation Committee chairman and is seen as especially close with the Cuomo administration.
During the campaign, Cuomo publicly praised the GOP senator – the last remaining Republican senator of the four who voted “yes” on same-sex marriage in 2011. The governor stopped short of endorsing Grisanti outright, but didn’t back his Democratic foe, Senator-elect Marc Panepinto, either.
But several sources on Monday didn’t just dismiss the idea, but slammed the door on the idea of Grisanti taking the job. And a DEC spokesperson also insisted a Grisanti-for-Martens switch is not in the offing.”
Frankly, this rumor seemed eerily plausible for about a New York minute. It seems unlikely that DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens would stick around to preside over the willful destruction of large swaths of New York state via infracstructure – pipelines, compressor stations, frack waste on roads, etc. But newly available Mark Grisanti could use the work, follow orders, take the heat and keep his mouth shut. Plus he’s been an insider on Cuomo’s on-going fracking scandal for years.
As chair of the Senate Environmental Committee, Grisanti was paid by the fracking lobbyists to block all fracking legislation, including the senate versions of all of the bills passed in the House. He was paid by Chesapeake to introduce a bill that would have enabled Chesapeake to tie up two square miles of mineral rights – in perpetuity – using the DEC to buy out landowners under compulsory integration. On behalf of the frackers, he introduced 5 bills to gut sections of the proposed SGEIS frack regs by way of side-stepping the more obvious reforms passed in the House.
Under Gristanti as Senate Committee Chair, New York retained the worst set of fracking regulations in the United States: It is one of only two states without a severance tax on oil and gas and one of only three states that do not keep their environmental oversight agency separate from their minerals management department. Plus New York has the worst compulsory integration law in America, the worst regulations on dumping frack waste on roads, etc. (I could go on) So naturally, Grisanti would be Cuomo’s top pick to preside over a set of 3rd world fracking regulations.
Grisanti is a Cuomo ally on the other side of the aisle. His support of Cuomo’s gay marriage and the gun control laws cost him his seat in the last election. In fact, Grisanti was the only Republican that Governor Cuomo actively campaigned for –
If this plays out, we will look back on the Martens years at the DEC as the halcyon days of New York fractavism. Because under someone like Gristanti, the DEC will approve every frackastrophe imaginable. No actual fracking gas holes would be needed, the infracstructure alone would be sufficient to trash the place.
Picking a 3rd rate operative like Grisanti to head the DEC would be a sad, cynical end to Cuomo 2.0’s political gamesmanship on fracking – as he becomes a footnote in the history of New York politics.
This rumor comes from Robert H. Boyle and Bruce Ferguson:
“An Albany insider reports that Governor Andrew Cuomo is preparing to lift New York’s six-year old de facto moratorium on high-volume fracking by opening the state’s Southern Tier to drilling companies. Department of Environmental Commissioner Joe Martens will step down and be replaced by former State Senator Mark Grisanti.
Throughout his four years in office, Cuomo has persistently sent mixed signals as to his intentions, and repeatedly hinted that a decision was imminent, only to let one self-imposed deadline after another elapse without action. Recently he said that he would announce his decision before the end of the year.
The decision to initially permit fracking only in the Southern Tier is not really a surprise—it’s the region of the state that thought to be most likely to hold marketable quantities of shale gas, and opinion polls show area residents are divided over the issue. The Cuomo administration first floated the idea of opening five Southern Tier counties to fracking in 2012, but then backed off in the face a sharply negative response.
It’s also no surprise that Joe Martens is leaving. He came to the DEC after twelve years as president of the Open Space Institute. By getting out now he can take credit for having held off fracking during the governor’s first term and rebuild his ties with the environmental community.
What is a surprise—and one that’s sure to enrage anti-fracking activists—is the choice of Mark Grisanti as the new DEC Commissioner. He’s a two-term Republican state senator who lost his seat this year after losing his party’s primary and then losing as a third party candidate in the general election.
As chair of the Environmental Protection Committee in the Republican-controlled Senate, Grisanti scuttled a bill sponsored by state Senator Cecelia Tkacyzkthat would bar New York from accepting frack waste from out of state. Before voting down the bill, Grisanti said, “I’m not sure this importation of frack waste is actually taking place.” In fact New York had been accepting millions of gallons of toxic, radioactive waste produced by gas extraction operations in Pennsylvania.“
As Martens packs up his boxes, muttering in sotto voce, “You’re going to miss me when I’m gone.” Which was Pete Grannis’s refrain, after Cuomo’s bag man him knifed him in the back.
In related news: Mark Grisanti Lands Southern Tier Pizza Franchise