Mike Groll / AP Photo

Constitution Pipeline Appeal Denied In Federal Court

A federal appeals court ruled against the Constitution Pipeline on Friday, in a challenge it brought against New York State’s denial of a water quality permit.

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Hydrofracking for natural gas is on hold in New York while the Department of Health reviews its potential health impacts. If New York permits the controversial drilling technique, one of the obstacles is how to handle the huge amounts of wastewater produced by each fracked well. In neighboring Pennsylvania, the use of privately owned treatment operations is spreading.

Governor Cuomo faces a tough choice as he continues to ponder the decision on whether to allow fracking in New York.  As Karen DeWitt reports, there’s no easy way to win for the governor.

It seems wherever Governor Cuomo goes these days, he’s followed by protesters who implore him not to allow hydro fracking in New York.  Hundreds gathered in the ornate Million Dollar staircase in the Capitol, where they listen to celebrities and actors like Mark Ruffalo, aka the Hulk.

“We’ll cream you if you open New York State to hydro fracking,” Ruffalo bellowed, to cheers.

A rally against New York’s newly enacted gun control laws drew one of the largest crowds to the State Capitol in recent decades.

With just three weeks and one day to go before a state budget deadline, Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders met to assess how far they have to go to reach a deal.

In order to meet their self imposed deadline of March 21st to complete a spending plan, Governor Cuomo and lawmakers will have to work through some thorny issues like disagreements over the state’s minimum wage and how to expand casino gambling.

“We have a number of issues on the table that are challenging,” Cuomo said. “It’s going well, but am I concerned? Yes”.

The Broome County Legislature approved a new Office of Energy Development during its meeting on Thursday, though the purpose of the office is not clear.

A leading budget watchdog group is urging rejection of a key component of Governor Cuomo’s budget plan. It would allow cities and schools to put off some payments to their pension funds.

The Governor’s proposal, known as the pension stabilization plan, would allow schools and municipalities to “smooth” out their pension payments over a 25 year period, by paying less now, but more later.

Governor Cuomo made several changes to his budget plan in 30 day amendments . As Karen DeWitt reports, the amendments range from imposing a teacher evaluation plan on New York City, to cutting the cost of hunting licenses.

Cuomo amended his budget to impose a teacher evaluation system on New York City. The Bloomberg Administration and the teacher’s union failed to reach agreement by a January deadline set by Cuomo, and the City stood to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in school aid.

The state’s largest teachers union has filed a lawsuit against the state’s property tax cap, arguing it’s unconstitutional.

New York State United Teachers President Dick Iannuzzi says the cap, passed by Cuomo and the legislature in 2011, arbitrarily limits property tax increase to 2%, regardless of whether a school district is rich or poor. The lawsuit also charges that the tax cap violates the principle of one person one vote, because a supermajority of 60% of voters is required to override the cap.

A group pressing for public campaign financing has compiled a list of large corporations who gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to some New York lawmakers. They charge that the donations are preventing the legislature from closing what they say are corporate tax loopholes.

On Tuesday, New York state officials announced another delay of their final decision on hydrofracking. The Department of Environmental Conservation will wait for a report on the health protections in its environmental review of fracking, then the environmental review can be completed. The delay could be less than a month, or it could be much longer.

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