In 2012, the United States Geological Survey set out to study methane levels in the groundwater in south-central New York [PDF], where an ocean of natural gas tempts corporations with big machines. An early draft of that report, released last year, stated that the "drilling, extraction, transport via pipelines and underground storage" of those hydrocarbons could cause methane seepage into the water that we drink. Governor Cuomo's administration, always game to challenge the meaning of the phrase "independent research," begged to differ.

According to Capital New York, which obtained the draft report and the final report approved by Cuomo, references to "pipelines" and "underground storage" were removed, and this sentence was added: “This risk can be reduced if the casing and cementing of wells is properly designed and constructed.”

Not always.

New York commissioned this methane groundwater study because Pennsylvania failed to do any sort of meaningful research into fracking and potential public health hazards, and now that state is experiencing flaming puddles and 30-foot "methane geysers" due to the incontrovertible fact that methane gas wants to move elsewhere when it feels pressure from giant hydraulic drills and millions of gallons of chemicals and sand.

Casing has failed to stop leaks in Pennsylvania, at least 243 times, and it failed to stop a leak at a test drilling site in Owego, New York in 2012.

Capital also obtained redacted emails between the USGS and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, which found that Cuomo's administration vigorously attempted to influence the report's final draft.

After one flurry of emails from state officials, USGS spokeswoman Noserale cut and pasted federal policy governing studies for use by the report’s author, as he corresponded with New York officials, to “clarify our role as a science organization.” A section of text highlighted in that email stated that “information products do not advocate or appear to advocate a particular public policy.”

An appeals court ruled this summer that individual towns in New York State may prohibit fracking as they see fit. Governor Cuomo, emulating the man who occupies his desired public office, has declined to take a position on fracking until after November's election.