Health Department: Nothing new on fracking review

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With a Nov. 29 deadline still looming, there’s been little — if any — movement on the state’s health-centric review of large-scale hydrofracking.

Bill Schwarz, a spokesman for the state Department of Health, said Wednesday that the agency has not yet come to an agreement with “outside experts” who will help assess the state’s hydrofracking recommendations.

“We don’t have the final plan worked out with the outside experts,” Schwarz said. “The scope of work is still being worked on and we hope to have that developed soon. When we have that, we’ll announce the specifics — including the scope of work, the number of consultants and the financial arrangements we can share.”

Under pressure from fracking critics and the state’s medical community, Health Commissioner Nirav Shah in September was tasked with appointing independent experts to review the Department of Environmental Conservation’s recommendations for dulling the negative impacts of fracking.

Hydrofracking with more than 300,000 gallons of liquid has been on hold in New York as the DEC completes an environmental and regulatory review of the technique. That review was first launched in 2008.

Neither the DEC nor the Health Department provided comment Tuesday when asked for an update on the process.

As of 5 p.m., the DEC still hasn’t responded to a set of written questions on the state of its review — specifically whether the agency believes it can hit a Nov. 29 regulatory deadline. If final regulations for fracking aren’t issued by then, the agency would have to reopen their proposals to public comment.

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4 Comments

  1. The idea that any review of whatever the DEC has come up with to cover the serious flaw in the SGEIS of no health risk assessment could be done in two weeks is nonsense. And wouldn’t we all like to see whatever it is that DEC has created?

    It also appears that DEC has made other changes in the SGEIS, so until the public has a chance to review all of them, it would be silly to put regulations based on the flawed SGEIS we saw a year ago into effect. The regulations must be based on a proper SGEIS and no permits should be issued until the SGEIS is formally opened for public comment and until the regulations are based on an SGEIS without serious flaws.

    Any attempt to shortcut the procedure toward issuing permits will only result in lawsuits and even longer delays.

  2. Rebecca Casstevens on

    In light of the appalling and deliberate shortcomings of the DEC’s sham, the existing SGEIS — as revealed by Senator Sam Avella’s hearing on fracking held in NYC in August — it is an insult to citizens, particularly those of us in the five-Southern-Tier-county sacrifice zone, that some phony deadline still holds any sway in such important decision-making. Having heard all the testimony of world renown scientists whose input has been IGNORED by the DEC, I have zero faith in that body to decide my fate! Dump the DEC and its pathetically inadequate SGEIS, and until an unbiased and thorough review can be done, for god’s sake hold off on the fracking!!

  3. A true review of the health impacts of fracking requires an independent review by a third party. That review would need to be peer-reviewed before it could be trusted. Further, any substantial health risk only solidifies the fact that fossil fuels are a thing of the past. Big Oil’s effort to push forward with fracking for a fuel at all time low prices using enormous amounts of fresh water laced with toxic substances to shatter the last remnants of gas out of solid rock only underscores our addiction to fossil fuels. We must face our addiction, accept it, and heal ourselves by moving forward to sustainable, renewable fuel options.

  4. Here, here! The DEC’s so called ” health risk impact” is a complete sham, as it was developed using the gas industry’s ridiculous data! The public knows this, and we are demanding an independant review by health experts who have nothing to gain by whatever results they come up with! People who are actually still in favor of fracking here in NY- those who want to sell or lease their land to the gas industry and who obviously don’t care one whit about their neighbors or their environment-go talk to the thousands of Pennsylvanians who also originally wanted fracking in their area and who are now sick to death-literally AND figuratively-of the whole process… Fracking will NOT benefit our state; on the contrary, it will destroy it. Ban fracking now!!