Critics of hydraulic fracturing are out with a pair of open letters today, calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to keep funds for a fracking regulatory program out of his budget and his commissioners to release information on a health review.
First, more than a dozen environmental groups joined with Common Cause/NY and the Working Families Party to formally call on Health Commissioner Nirav Shah and Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens open up a much-anticipated review of the health impacts of fracking. The review was unveiled by Martens in October, and is being aided by three outside experts named by the state last month.
But formal contracts with two of those experts prevent them from releasing any information about the review, and the state has declined to release any specifics about it.
“We remain deeply concerned that the health review is proceeding under a veil of secrecy and without any opportunity for input by the potentially affected public, state-based health professionals or other key stakeholders,” according to the letter, which was signed by groups such as the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter and Environmental Advocates of New York.
Specifically, the groups called for the “scope and substance” of the report to be released publicly, followed by a 60-day comment period and a public hearing.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation is currently in the midst of a 30-day comment period on its latest set of proposed fracking regulations, which were unveiled late last month. It faces a Feb. 27 deadline to finalize them.
UPDATED: Brad Gill, executive director of the Independent Oil & Gas Association of New York, said the state has done more than enough to look at the impacts of fracking.
“IOGA members believe that state agencies have met – and exceeded – their obligations to assess potential health impacts,” Gill said in a statement. “While other states are seeing the benefits of natural gas exploration, New York has waited more than four years. We strongly oppose any further delay.”
Later in the day, more than a dozen environmental and anti-fracking groups sent a letter to Cuomo, urging him to keep money for fracking regulators out of his budget until a decision is made on whether to allow the practice in New York.
“Any decision asto whether or not to fund a fracking regulatory program should not be made before the impacts to our health, environment and economy have been comprehensively and properly assessed,” they wrote.
The budget letter is below. The health review letter can be read here.