Breaking News: Huge Victory – Fracking Delayed in New York

GOVERNOR CUOMO DELAYS FRACKING DECISION

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH COMMISSIONER DR. SHAH SAYS HE NEEDS MORE TIME TO COMPLETE HEALTH REVIEW FORCING THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION TO MISS KEY DEADLINE

In an incredible victory for Mountainkeeper and activists across New York State – Dr. Shah, the State Department of Health Commissioner sent a letter to Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens stating:

“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.”  Read the entire letter here

In response Commissioner Martens issued a press release stating:

“Commissioner Shah advised me today that the Public Health Review of the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) of high-volume hydraulic fracturing is still on-going.  The Department of Health’s (DOH) Public Health Review, which was undertaken at my request, is important to our consideration of high-volume hydraulic fracturing and I will not issue a final SGEIS until that review is complete and I have received Dr. Shah’s recommendations.  He has indicated he expects his review to be complete in a few weeks after he has had an opportunity to review recent studies underway which are pertinent to the evaluation of high-volume hydraulic fracturing impacts on public health.”  Read the entire press release here

According to Dr. Kathleen Nolan, MD, MSL Catskill Mountainkeeper’s High Peaks Regional Director:
“As Mountainkeeper has long recommended, Dr. Shah is wisely taking the time to come to a careful decision about what needs to happen to protect New York from the harmful effects of fracking.  We hope that his future plans include a call for a rigorous, comprehensive, open and participatory Health Impact Assessment that will define and quantify the full range of health hazards involved in the production and distribution of natural gas.”

Catskill Mountainkeeper commends the Governor, Commissioner Shah and Commissioner Martens on their decision to take the prudent approach to this very controversial issue by proceeding with the utmost caution.  We hope that the DOH and the DEC will continue to recognize the need for more in depth study of this dangerous practice.  We will keep you updated as we learn more.

Department of Health Letter to Martens

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.

Commissioner, Department of Health

DEC Statement on Delayed Fracking Review

NEWS

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

Commissioner Joe Martens

For Release:  IMMEDIATE                                                           Contact:  Emily DeSantis

Tuesday, February 12, 2013                                                                         518-402-8000

Statement from DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens

Commissioner Shah advised me today that the Public Health Review of the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) of high-volume hydraulic fracturing is still on-going.

The Department of Health’s (DOH) Public Health Review, which was undertaken at my request, is important to our consideration of high-volume hydraulic fracturing and I will not issue a final SGEIS until that review is complete and I have received Dr. Shah’s recommendations.  He has indicated he expects his review to be complete in a few weeks after he has had an opportunity to review recent studies underway which are pertinent to the evaluation of high-volume hydraulic fracturing impacts on public health.

The previously proposed high-volume hydraulic fracturing regulations cannot be finalized until the SGEIS is complete.  However, this does not mean that the issuance of permits for high-volume hydraulic fracturing would be delayed.  If the DOH Public Health Review finds that the SGEIS has adequately addressed health concerns, and I adopt the SGEIS on that basis, DEC can accept and process high-volume hydraulic fracturing permit applications 10 days after issuance of the SGEIS.  The regulations simply codify the program requirements.

If, on the other hand, the DOH review finds that there is a public health concern that has not been assessed in the SGEIS or properly mitigated, we would not proceed, as I have stated in the past.

In either event, the science, not emotion, will determine the outcome.

###

 

Mountainkeeper and Allies Hold Health Rally Opposing Fracking

The day after DEC Commissioner implied the state could miss a regulatory deadline that could extend New York’s moratorium on fracking.  Anti-fracking activists are keeping the pressure on.

Joe Martens, DEC Commissioner, said the DEC won’t finalize fracking regulations without the state’s health review being complete.  If it isn’t complete in time for the February 13th deadline, a decision on fracking could be delayed for months.  Tuesday, the activists said the health concerns should keep Governor Cuomo from allowing one well to be fracked in the Southern Tier.

“Our waterways are interconnected in the ground, just as they are on the surface.  The industry can not keep it’s claim to keep toxic chemicals under ground and keep them in one place. They can’t do it,” said Dr. Kathleen Nolan of Catskill Mountainkeeper.

The activists criticized Cuomo for what they call a secret health review. But according to energy in depth, an industry-funded group, health stats from communities surrounding the Barnett Shale in Texas show rates of cancer, heart and respiratory disease decreased from 2000-2008, possibly due in part to revenue from drilling giving more people access to health care.
WATCH DR. KATHLEEN NOLAN FROM MOUNTAINKEEPER ON FOX 40.
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VIEW VIDEO

MORE STORIES ON THE RALLY

http://ecowatch.org/2013/dont-frack-our-health/

http://www.newschannel34.com/news/local/story/Anti-Fracking-Rally/GCfNHaB-OkORTAvGYDaIvA.cspx

http://binghamton.ynn.com/content/top_stories/636582/fracking-advocates-and-opponents-react-to-siena-poll/

http://www.wbng.com/news/local/Not-One-Well–189905431.html

http://www.wicz.com/news2005/viewarticle.asp?a=26650

http://www.wicz.com/news/video.asp?video=2-5-13frack%2Eflv&zone=News