A wide array of health and environmental groups joined more than 100 elected officials Wednesday to sign on to an effort to put a pause on the state Department of Health’s review of hydraulic fracturing, calling on the state to wait until three high-profile studies are completed first.
The letter, delivered today to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, praises the governor for the state’s decision not to meet today’s deadline to finalize a set of regulations for large-scale fracking, instead allowing the proposals to expire.
But the groups and officials call for a broader look at fracking’s potential health impacts rather than the “narrow” scope of Health Commissioner Nirav Shah’s review.
“With your decision to stop the clock, we hope that you will be guiding our state along a different path—by carefully considering any and all public health impacts before deciding whether to allow fracking in New York,” the letter reads. “Such a consideration must include a close examination of health impacts in other parts of the nation where (high-volume hydrofracking) is ongoing.”
In particularly, the letter points to three outside studies cited by Shah in a letter earlier this month. The groups want Shah to wait for results from those studies—which, depending on the study, could be a few years—before completing his own review.
The groups also call for Shah to open his review to the public and for a “comprehensive, independent Health Impact Assessment that is site-specific for New York.”
Permits for large-scale fracking have been on hold since 2008, when the state Department of Environmental Conservation first launched an environmental and regulatory review of the technique. Shale-gas drilling can’t move ahead in New York until that review is finalized.
Here’s Michael Seilbeck, vice president of public policy and communications for the American Lung Association in New York, discussing his group’s concerns: