State Taps Experts for Hydrofracking Review

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The state has identified three experts from major universities who will soon begin assessing its plan for large-scale hydraulic fracturing.

Top faculty members from George Washington University, the University of California Los Angeles and the Colorado School of Public Health have been tapped to review the state’s proposed guidelines for hydrofracking, according to a list obtained by Gannett’s Albany Bureau.

In late September, state Health Commissioner Nirav Shah was tasked with reviewing a Department of Environmental Conservation report on high-volume hydrofracking, a technique in which water, sand and chemicals are injected into deep shale formations to fracture the rock and release natural gas.

Shah’s review is nearing completion and will soon be reviewed by the outside experts, state officials said. Permits for hydrofracking with more than 300,000 gallons can’t be issued in New York until the DEC’s report — known as the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement — is finalized.

The three university officials who have been selected are: John Adgate, chair of the Environmental and Occupational Health Department at the Colorado School of Public Health; Lynn Goldman, dean of George Washington University’s School of Public Health and Health Services; and Richard Jackson, chair of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the University of California Los Angeles’ Fielding School of Public Health.

The DEC faces a key regulatory deadline on Nov. 29. If its proposed regulations aren’t finalized by then, they would have to be reopened to public comment.

Two previous comment periods on the DEC’s review — which was first launched in 2008 — brought in about 80,000 submissions, according to the agency.

When announcing the health-specific review in September, DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens said his agency’s proposals won’t be finalized until the review by Shah and the independent officials are completed.

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