IOGA: Hydrofracking Opponents Pushing For “Death By A Thousand Studies” (UPDATE)

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A gas-industry trade group is pushing back against lawmakers’ efforts to launch a study of the health impacts of hydraulic fracturing.

Sen. Tony Avella, D-Queens, has introduced a bill that would require the state to complete a study of the effects hydrofracking could have on human health, while Assembly Democrats included $100,000 in their state budget proposal to have a SUNY school look at the health side of things.

Brad Gill, executive director of the Independent Oil & Gas Association of New York, said in a statement that Avella’s bill is meant to “intentionally delay the expansion of natural gas exploration in the Southern Tier.”

“Downstate lawmakers’ constituents are not impacted by natural gas development – except for lower home-heating fuel prices – and should not stand in the way of Upstate economic development,” said Gill (pictured).

Gill’s statement came after Senate Democrats on Thursday needled their Republican counterparts, urging them to include funding for such a study in the final state budget. Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County, said earlier this week that he’s not in favor of that, citing the Department of Environmental Conservation’s ongoing review of the hydrofracking technique. (Environmental groups have been critical of the DEC’s study for not focusing on health impacts.)

UPDATE: Erica Ringewald, a spokesperson for Environmental Advocates of New York, sent over to a response to Gill’s statement, saying that a bevy of medical groups have been “leading the charge” in calling for a health study, including the state Medical Society and the University of Rochester Medical Center.

“The doctors, health care associations, and respected universities who are asking for such a study aren’t looking at the potential payday for gas development. They are concerned about public health,” she wrote. “New York should not put *potential* economic benefits of fracking ahead of public health. New York must include science in its decision making, not just industry’s pie-in-the-sky projections.”

Here’s Gill’s statement, in full:

“It is unclear how a comprehensive health impact assessment would be performed on an activity that is not taking place in New York at this time.

That said, this bill was drafted to intentionally delay the expansion of natural gas exploration in the Southern Tier. Further delay denies Upstate New York businesses the opportunity to create jobs and keeps landowners from their right to lease their mineral rights.

Downstate lawmakers’ constituents are not impacted by natural gas development – except for lower home-heating fuel prices – and should not stand in the way of Upstate economic development.

There are no demonstrated cases of negative health impacts associated with natural gas development in the United States. In fact, a $1 million study, completed last August in Fort Worth, Texas, concluded natural gas development in the Barnett Shale did not lead to adverse health effects.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation is now in the fourth year of building new guidelines associated with permitting oil and gas drilling. These guidelines are designed to protect the environment and human health.

This is just delay for delay’s sake, part of calculated campaign designed to frighten New Yorkers.”

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