Riverkeeper > News & Events > News > Safeguard Drinking Water > Fracking/Gas Drilling > Groups Urge NYS Senate and Governor to Include Health Impact Assessment on Fracking in Budget

Groups Urge NYS Senate and Governor to Include Health Impact Assessment on Fracking in Budget

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contacts:
Tina Posterli, Riverkeeper, 516-526-9371, tposterli@riverkeeper.org
Larysa Dyrszka, MD, 845-583-4381, Lar917dy@gmail.com
Erica Ringewald, Environmental Advocates of New York, 518-210-9903, eringewald@eany.org
John Armstrong, Frack Action, 607-220-4632, John@FrackAction.com
Wes Gillingham, Catskill Mountainkeeper, 845-482-5400, Wes@CatskillMountainkeeper.org

Medical Professionals, groups push for health before politics
Ossining, NY – March 27, 2012 – A coalition of environmental groups and medical professionals are calling on Governor Cuomo and the NYS Legislature to honor his promise of putting science before politics by mandating and funding a health impact assessment on hydrofracking in the NYS Budget for 2012-2013.

The NYS Assembly included $100,000 in its budget resolution for a study by a school of public health within the state university system that would follow a model recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yet, the portions of the budget initially released last night do not include a mandate for such a health impacts assessment.

Fracking’s impact on public health, in particular our children’s health, is a serious issue that calls for swift action—action that both environmental groups and medical professionals are asking the NYS Senate and Governor to take.

“Rather than acknowledge and seek to understand the science that appears to establish a link between fracking and health impacts, the gas industry has fought studies at every turn. The Governor and the NYS Senate should not let them get away with it,” said Kate Hudson, Watershed Program Director at Riverkeeper. “If the Governor is truly committed to putting science before politics and protecting the public health, he should support efforts to understand the health impacts of shale gas extraction on vulnerable populations before moving forward with fracking in New York.”

The medical community across New York has become increasingly concerned about the health impacts of hydraulic fracturing. In October 2011, 250 physicians and medical professionals joined together in calling for a comprehensive public health impact assessment. On December 10, 2011 Dr. Sandra Steingraber, Lois Gibbs and Fran Drescher echoed that call with nineteen NY-based cancer advocacy groups in a letter asking for the same assessment.

Despite letters to the Governor, Senator Skelos and Speaker Silver from the Medical Society of the State of New York, The American Academy of Pediatrics of New York State, the NYS Nurses Association, Healthy Schools Network, the Academy of Family Physicians of NY State, and others organizations of health professionals in NY State, calling for the inclusion of a Health Impact Assessment in the budget, the leadership of this state has chosen to disregard the recommendations of thousands of physicians.

Larysa Dyrszka, MD explained, “Every doctor who has looked critically at this extreme form of gas extraction using high-volume, slick water horizontal hydraulic fracturing, as it’s currently done, has expressed concern that public health has not been adequately addressed. An HIA would have done that. I am deeply disappointed that the leadership of our state is choosing not to heed the recommendations of this state’s medical community.”

“Unfortunately Governor Cuomo has disregarded the call from the medical community in New York to look at the science on what is the greatest concern with fracking – public health. Governor Cuomo needs to realize that if he breaks it, he owns it, and he should heed the growing body of science showing the dangers of fracking and not fast-track the 66,000 comments sent to the DEC in order to have a swift turnaround to frack this spring,” said Julia Walsh, Campaign Director of Frack Action.

“The Governor and the Senate are again giving us a clear signal they just don’t get it, or they are deliberately putting politics ahead of the health and safety of New Yorkers,” said Wes Gillingham Program Director for Catskill Mountainkeeper. “This action makes people wonder if he is just getting pushed around by the gas industry.”

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