Blogs > Don't Frack with New York > Health Experts Appointed by State but DOH Remains Silent on What is being Reviewed and Whether there will be Opportunity for Public Input

Health Experts Appointed by State but DOH Remains Silent on What is being Reviewed and Whether there will be Opportunity for Public Input

Riverkeeper applauds Department of Health (DOH) Commissioner Nirav Shah for appointing three highly-regarded public health experts to review the Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) analysis of health issues in its Revised Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (RDSGEIS) on fracking.  The experts—Lynn Goldman, Dean of George Washington University’s School of Public Health and Health Services; John Adgate, Chair of the Environmental and Occupational Health Department at the Colorado School of Public Health; and Richard Jackson, Chair of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health—have significant experience in the field of health impact assessment (HIA).

However, in spite of calls from more than 90 members of the medical community for a transparent and inclusive study, DOH and DEC have yet to make public the DEC health analysis that will be reviewed and have failed to provide for an opportunity for input from the public and key stakeholders, including potentially impacted communities.  In order to ensure the assessment of health impacts is robust and credible, Governor Cuomo must allow the public an opportunity to communicate information to these experts and review their findings. We also encourage the Governor to give these experts unfettered access to information, data, and public health professionals from local communities across the state to help complete this work in a comprehensive and independent manner.

While we are encouraged by the choice of personnel to review the analysis DEC has already conducted, this review will not fulfill the public’s request for a comprehensive HIA, which would identify specific risks to the health of New York’s communities—particularly those most vulnerable, such as the young and the elderly—and develop a plan to mitigate them if possible.  We continue to encourage Joe Martens to honor the commitment he made in his September 20, 2012 announcement: “if there was a public health concern that could not be addressed [DEC] would not proceed.”  The only way to answer the question of whether fracking will present such public health concerns is for the state to do a truly comprehensive health study with all relevant stakeholders at the table.  Anything less will be unlikely to provide the basis for public trust in NY’s fracking review process.

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