It does not appear that the looming Nov. 29 deadline for the state’s proposed hydrofracking regulations will be met.
For today’s Gannett newspapers, we spoke with Lynn Goldman (pictured), one of the three outside health experts who will review some of the state’s recommended guidelines for large-scale hydraulic fracturing.
When asked what timeline the state has given the experts for completing the work, Goldman said it has been pushed back in part because state officials have had their hands full with Superstorm Sandy. As of now, she said, the work is expected to be wrapped up by “mid-February at the latest.”
“I think it’s easy for people in the middle of a problem to lose sight of the big picture,” said Goldman, one of the three selected by the state. “I think the three of us will be able to assist them in reviewing their work and hopefully providing some guidance where it’s needed.”
Goldman is dean of George Washington University’s School of Public Health and Health Services.
The state faces a Nov. 29 deadline for finalizing its proposed fracking regulations under the State Administrative Procedures Act. Under that law, the Department of Environmental Conservation can obtain a 90-day extension—but would have to submit updated proposals and open them to comment for 30 days.
A mid-February timeline would seemingly put the state in line with that 90-day extension.
Meanwhile, a gas industry group and landowner group both took issue with the composition of the expert review panel.
The Joint Landowners Coalition of New York raised concern over John Adgate of the Colorado School of Public Health, who was the co-author of a report that raised health concerns about people living near natural-gas wells. Energy in Depth, an industry-funded group, raised similar concerns and also pointed to a Huffington Post piece authored by Goldman.
“While we have confidence in the ability of the DEC and Health Department to guide us through this review, we also have an expectation that panel members will be impartial toward the issue of hydraulic fracturing, and we therefore are concerned that one member of the committee is the author of a Colorado study which has been widely criticized,” read a statement from the landowners group.
Environmental groups, meanwhile, have signaled support for the selection of the experts, but are calling for more transparency from the Cuomo Administration about what exactly they’ll be reviewing. Environmental Advocates of New York has called on the state to release the DEC documents being reviewed by the Department of Health and independent analysts, but a deadline on a Freedom of Information Law request from the group has been pushed back to January 25.
“As a result, no one knows who completed the DEC’s study, what factors the DOH has considered in its initial review, and whether these three experts will truly have the independence and autonomy they need and deserve to do the job right,” Environmental Advocates program director Katherine Nadeau said in a statement. “From a Governor who promised transparency, this is anything but.”