Eight groups that have been critical of hydraulic fracturing mailed a joint letter to state Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joseph Martens on Thursday, urging him to stand strong in the face of a lawsuit from a defunct oil-and-gas company.
In the letter, the groups — including the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter and the New York Public Interest Research Group — argue that the lawsuit filed by a Norse Energy bankruptcy trustee and investor is filled with “hypocrisy,” pointing to annual reports from the company that acknowledge “environmental risks and hazards” associated with shale-gas drilling.
“Norse Energy’s claim that drilling operations and facilities are safe is plainly at odds with statements made in its own prospectus, as well as in annual reports by other companies,” the letter reads. “Its contention that public health inquiry is “improper” – in the face of an overwhelming call for such study by our leading medical and scientific experts and organizations – underscores the industry’s disregard for the public interest and wellbeing.”
The Norse lawsuit, filed late Tuesday, seeks to force Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration into finalizing a DEC report on high-volume hydrofracking, which has been on hold since the review was launched by the DEC in 2008. The suit contends that the DEC has improperly delegated its authority by asking state Health Commissioner Nirav Shah to complete his own analysis of the fracking report. (Shah on Monday gave no indication of when his work would be completed.)
The letter asks Martens to continue his agency’s review without being deterred by the lawsuit.
“In closing, we request that you add this important information into the public record and take it into consideration as you continue to study and evaluate the risks of drilling and fracking operations to New Yorkers’ water, air, land and public health and safety,” the groups wrote.
Here’s the full letter: