Shah: Fracking transparency will come after work’s done

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New York’s top health official Monday said his review of hydraulic fracturing will continue behind closed doors because science needs to be conducted in a “sacred place.”

Following a meeting of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s cabinet, state Health Commissioner Nirav Shah said scientific studies must be conducted in private to maintain objectivity.

“The process needs to be transparent at the end, not during,” Shah told reporters.

When asked when the public will be able to see his work, Shah said: “When I’m done.”

The state Department of Health began its own review of fracking — a technique used to help extract natural gas from underground shale formations — in September 2012, while the Department of Environmental Conservation began crafting permitting guidelines in 2008.

As far back as January, Shah had said his work would be completed within weeks. High-volume fracking remains on hold in New York until Shah’s work is finished, allowing the DEC to complete its review.

“For the last few months, I’ve said that as the science evolves, we will reflect the science in my recommendations,” Shah said. “As recently as a month ago, we got new data from Texas and Wyoming ,and until I’m comfortable with the state of the science, I’m withholding my recommendation.”

Cuomo said that while his administration has moved quickly on other efforts, such as building a new Tappan Zee Bridge in the Hudson Valley, fracking is a complex issue.

“I want the right decision, not necessarily the fastest decision,” Cuomo said Monday. “When it’s appropriate to move fast, we can move fast. I think we’ve shown that over and over again.”

Cuomo said Monday that there is no timeline, though he “would expect” a decision before Election Day. He said he wouldn’t pressure Shah into a decision.

“But my timeline is whatever Commissioner Shah needs to do it right and feel comfortable,” Cuomo said. “It’s a major decision.”

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12 Comments

  1. A growing body of science says that fracking cannot be done safely. Too many people are getting sick from this heavy industry across the country. Hopefully Dr. Shah will pay attention to solid peer reviewed science on the issue and let the facts show that a ban on fracking is the only way to go.
    tinyurl.com/frackingscience

  2. I live in New York’s Southern Tier and am very pleased to learn that Dr. Shah will take his time and let the science guide him in his health review. That’s exactly what we need in this process. Just because the gas companies are itching for a profit at our expense is not a good reason to go forward on fracking.

  3. This is a political cover story. Dr Shah’s work will be done when the Governor has decided, not before. Property owners have had their rights confiscated by these politicians. Why is drilling and HVHF acceptable in 30 other states? Do they not have health departments and regulatory agencies to ensure safe energy development? Of course they do, and the politics trumps the people of NY again.

  4. Also, the State is allowing the Dunkirk Power Plant to burn natural gas instead of coal, this means jobs and tax revenue for the community. Over 500 MW of energy. How many solar panels and bird-killing windmills would that take, thousands. The plant will now use clean-burning natural gas, but where will it come from? NY needs to participate in this energy revolution instead of listening to fear mongers. The fractivists are finally loosing to reason and common sense. And Cayuga is next, right in the heart of anti-land.

  5. Does Dr. shaw not know that science is ever changing on every aspect of our lives and each time a new study comes out it does not mean we delay but adopt. This Excuse is Horse S. and everyone knows it. For Proud NYer aka Issac Gorn to spout his BS is expected as he receives a paycheck for his activisim, Sue Rapp dubbed the Byrd Lady by reporter Mary Esch, delay is a victory of measurement for something she doesnt even understand. I too live in the Southern Tier and in the past two major elections everyone who ran on the anti gas drilling platform lot to pro gas canadates, They anti oppisition may have the biggest mouth but thats only because liars rely on the mouth but the fact is in Upstate NY just as in the last nationwide poll, Americans Favor Natural Gas Drilling

  6. I had a tough time seeing the strings coming from Shah’s shoulders as his puppet master has a firm grip on them still. Cuomo is playing politics with this and I don’t understand why. His power base in NYC is hundreds of miles from where drilling will occur and the Downsville and Pepacton reservoirs have a substantial setback to mitigate any surface spills that MIGHT occur. This whole thing is one big soap opera with landowners being the scapegoats in the whole drama with Josh Fox reaping millions from his disingenuous movies. Proud NYer above says “too many people are getting sick from this”. BULL….this is the standard parroting coming from just another NIMBY with zero facts or figures. Lies always lose to the facts.

  7. I agree that what Dr. Shah is doing should be done in secret and am agreeable to his taking as much time as needed. The concerns about air, water, and ground pollution and resulting illnesses to people and animals are very real. There are a number of medically related studies out there for him to review like the U of Colorado School of Public Health’s effort which showed a higher incidence of cancer among people living within a half mile of a gas well.

    Also, wells, pipelines, and compressor stations all leak methane, a very potent greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. This also is a problem the industry has not been able to solve.

    At the same time, I do think that the most recent version of the SGEIS which includes whatever DEC did in the health area should be made public so that we can all look at what Dr. Shah is trying to review. I would also like to see DEC responses to the comments the public submitted in 2011 and again in 2012. Why shouldn’t this be public information?

  8. WAIT TILL JAN 8TH… 35,000 PEOPLE WILL ARRIVE IN ALBANY DRESSED AS IDIOTS AT THE STATE OF THE STATE ADRESS. WE WILL OWN THE DAY JUST LIKE WE OWN CUOMO’S ARSE

  9. True Reporting on

    BREAKING NEWS:

    NATURAL GAS DRILLING OPPOSITION OUTED FOR
    FALLSE REFERENCES TO GOVERNOR CUOMO’S OFFICE:::::

    Opposition against natural gas drilling has been outed as using false information, basement science, and phony papers, and reports full of mis-leading and simply false information:

    National Institute of Investigated Science put out a 25 page report stating that nearly 80 percent of all anti gas facts were first documented by the groups themselves based on fear projections not science. The NIIS reviewed and investigated reports from Anthony Ingraffea, & Proffessor Howorth from Cornell University as well as Josh Fox’s Gasland one and two, the findings made official today show that most every report and action taken by these people and groups against gas drilling have been fabricated to sway public opinion using false fear senerio’s and outright false claims. A spokesman for the Governor upon hearing this report stated the truth “right or wrong” has never played a part in the Governor’s decision process, The Governor simply wants to appease the loud voice of the minority until after the election because being the Governor of NY is his only goal. This reporter asked the head of the National Institute of Investigated Science what was the largest example of misinformation uncovered, Well we would have to say the very same document that put us on the trail of this what we call criminal activity to mis guide NYkers, “The List Of The Harm” stated Professor Rotciv Namruf, when we reviewed the document we found that many many many of the complaints were authured by the creater herself.

  10. True Reporting on

    Study: methane in 15 percent of upstate NY wells
    12:18 PM, Dec 17, 2013 | Comments

    Written by
    The Associated Press

    FILED UNDER
    Local News
    State
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    ZOOM
    Web graphic Marcellus Shale
    TROY — A new federal study has found high levels of methane gas in some upstate New York state water wells, even in areas that aren’t near oil and gas drilling.

    The U.S. Geological Survey says in a Tuesday release that 15 percent of groundwater samples from 66 household wells across south-central New York contained methane at levels high enough to warrant monitoring or remediation. Higher concentrations of methane were found in water wells located in valleys.

    The USGS says the testing was done in the summer of 2012 and the study area includes about 2000 square miles in parts of Broome, Tioga, Chemung, Chenango, and Delaware counties.

    USGS scientist Paul Heisig says the testing shows that methane is already common in some water wells, especially in valleys.
    http://www.pressconnects.com/viewart/20131217/NEWS10/312170028/Study-methane-15-percent-upstate-NY-wells

  11. True Reporting on

    The U.S. Geological Survey says in a Tuesday release that 15 percent of groundwater samples from 66 household wells across south-central New York contained methane at levels high enough to warrant monitoring or remediation. Higher concentrations of methane were found in water wells located in valleys.

    The USGS says the testing was done in the summer of 2012 and the study area includes about 2000 square miles in parts of Broome, Tioga, Chemung, Chenango, and Delaware counties.

    USGS scientist Paul Heisig says the testing shows that methane is already common in some water wells, especially in valleys.
    http://www.pressconnects.com/viewart/20131217/NEWS10/312170028/Study-methane-15-percent-upstate-NY-wells