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Governor Cuomo begins to build trust on Fracking

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Nearly 300,000 comments have been submitted on fracking by increasingly concerned New Yorkers
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New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has postponed decision on fracking pending further health study

Ossining, NY – February 12, 2013 – In a testament to the power of one of the greatest grassroots movements this state has ever seen, Commissioners Dr. Nirav Shah of the Department of Health (DOH) and Joseph Martens of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) have announced today that they will postpone the decision on whether to allow high-volume hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in New York State pending further review of fracking’s impacts on human health. DEC will wait to finalize the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement on fracking until after DOH completes the public health review, which DEC requested in November of 2012.

In response to the inspiring news, Paul Gallay, President and Hudson Riverkeeper, released the following statement:

“Riverkeeper applauds Governor Cuomo and Commissioners Shah and Martens for postponing the decision on fracking, as the science and facts of fracking’s human health, environmental, and socioeconomic impacts remain unclear. Riverkeeper has long called for a robust and transparent Health Impact Assessment that will analyze the full range of fracking’s potential impacts to human health, and we are gratified that the actions taken today could allow the state to take the time to ensure such impacts are properly considered. We do not agree, however, with Commissioner Martens that DEC may issue fracking permits without first implementing protective regulations, and we will be watching this issue carefully.”

  • roscoe

    By ‘trust’ you mean ‘agreement’
    All the evidence points to the fact that drilling is safe.
    Solar panels are heavily polluting-there are highly toxic components that, once in the ground, pose a threat to the environment and water safety.
    NY needs drilling.

  • The pro frackers don’t trust him either so I guess Cuomo is doing his job.

  • Until the gas companies release all the chemicals they use to frack for gas, it should NOT be allowed ANYWHERE. I can’t imagine anyone would be willing to gamble on one’s drinking water.

  • Toward a sustainable future

    Our Governor Cuomo is walking a tightrope towards his political future. He cannot risk making the wrong decision about fracking in New York State. The right decision is one where the majority of New Yorkers will support his political future. If he stands up and faces the forces of big oil and natural gas, the majority of New Yorkers will support his political future, whatever he chooses it to be. We will be there supporting him. I do not think that fracking has the potential to act as a sustainable way to transition into the future as a long acting energy source, nor as a long range economic revenue source to its investors. Think of fracking investment as another way to put lots of money into someone’s coffers without their having to be responsible for the pollution and poison this process leaves behind.

  • Paul Gallay

    Here is Health Commissioner Shah’s letter. IT’s worth a read!

    February 12, 2013

    Commissioner Joe Martens
    NY State Department of Environmental Conservation
    625 Broadway
    Albany, NY 12233

    Dear Commissioner Martens,

    In September, you asked me to initiate a Public Health Review of the Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) for High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing (HVHF).

    The Department of Health review is considering whether the final draft SGEIS adequately identifies potential public health impacts of HVHF and whether additional mitigation measures are needed beyond those already proposed in the draft SGEIS.

    The decision to permit HVHF is important, and involves complex questions about the impact of the process on public health. The time to ensure the impacts on public health are properly considered is before a state permits drilling. Other states began serious health reviews only after proceeding with widespread HVHF.

    In my view, that is not the right approach for New York to take if we are serious that public health is the paramount question in making the HVHF decision. And as Health Commissioner, protecting the public health is my primary job.

    The Department of Health review of the EIS is on-going. In particular we are focused on the relationship of HVHF to the health impacts of drinking water contamination, but also other areas such as air quality and community impacts.

    In recent weeks, work has been initiated or published by the scientific community to analyze these health impacts and which may help in addressing these areas. These are the first comprehensive studies of HVHF health impacts at either the state or federal level. They include:

    • The US EPA hydraulic fracturing study. This is a study of potential impacts of HVHF on drinking water resources. Commissioned by Congress, this includes 18 research related projects. The EPA published a 278 page progress report a few weeks ago which we are reviewing.

    * Geisinger Health Systems study. Geisinger, which cares for many patients in areas where shale gas is being developed in Pennsylvania, is undertaking studies to analyze health records for asthma and other respiratory diseases, accidents and injuries, as well as birth outcomes.

    • University of Pennsylvania study. A study of HVHF health impacts was recently announced, led by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and in collaboration with scientists from Columbia, Johns Hopkins and the University of North Carolina.

    As we have been reviewing the scope of these studies, I have determined — and prudence dictates — that the DOH Public Health Review will require additional time to complete based on the complexity of the issues. My team and I will be in Pennsylvania and Washington in the coming days for first-hand briefings on these studies and their progress, which will assist in informing the New York review. I have also extended the term of the DOH outside expert researchers to continue to assist my review. I anticipate delivering the completed Public Health Review to you within a few weeks, along with my recommendations.

    From the inception of this process, the Governor’s instruction has been to let the science determine the outcome. As a physician and scientist, I could not agree more.

    Whatever the ultimate decision on HVHF going ahead, New Yorkers can be assured that it will be pursuant to a rigorous review that takes the time to examine the relevant health issues.


    Nirav Shah, MD, MPH

    Commissioner, Department of Health

  • Richard Lind

    NY does NOT need or Want Fracking. The evidence of which you speak is corporation funded, and biased. Corruption by industry on “science” is so prevalent you must live under a rock if you dont know that. Fracking poisons water, land,and food supplies. It PLUMMETS proprty Value and risks ppls health. BANFRACkING in NY. Ban it Now.

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