by Jeremy Moule
Yesterday, state Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joseph Martens said that he wouldn't agree to an independent health study of fracking. (See this post from yesterday for the statement.)
Environmental and medical groups have called for such a study. They believe that high-volume hydraulic fracturing, a natural gas extraction technique that the state is reviewing, poses serious environmental and health risks. Environmental Advocates of New York released a statement last night criticizing the commissioner's decision. Below is part of the statement, from Katherine Nadeau, Environmental Advocates' water and natural resources program director:
"We are disappointed that Governor Cuomo has rejected requests for an independent assessment on the public health impacts of fracking, ignoring the state’s health professionals, including the New York State Nurses Association and the Medical Society of the State of New York.
"It would be reckless for the administration to finalize and release the governor’s plans for fracking before his DEC’s internal health study is reviewed and vetted by the public."
In his statement yesterday, Martens said that a decision on whether to allow fracking won't be made until the health assessment is complete. But Governor Andrew Cuomo's administration has already floated a proposal to allow fracking in several Southern Tier counties, as long as the communities are in favor of the drilling.
Nadeau said there are too many unanswered questions about fracking's health impacts. She also questioned whether the study would include "a baseline assessment of a community’s health before drilling begins."
“We would fully expect that, at a minimum, the details of whatever analysis has been done be revealed to the public, its feedback solicited, and the entire environmental impact statement and draft regulations be re-noticed, if not withdrawn,” Nadeau said in the statement.