Thousands of pages of former state Health Commissioner Nirav Shah’s schedules show the leaders of New York’s hydraulic fracturing review met with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s political advisers twice last year.
More from this weekend’s Gannett newspapers:
Twice last year, Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens, then-Health Commissioner Nirav Shah and Cuomo’s top aides huddled with Phil Singer and Peter Kauffmann, senior advisers to Cuomo’s successful 2010 campaign who now work for the state Democratic Committee.
The two January 2013 meetings were held during a tense time in the state’s fracking debate. One came as a public-comment period on proposed shale-gas drilling rules drew to a close; the other came the same day reports surfaced about an internal state analysis suggesting fracking could be done safely.
Both proponents and critics of fracking have long accused Cuomo of politicizing the decision-making process, though the governor has denied that politics are at play. Cuomo, Martens and Shah are currently facing two lawsuits from fracking boosters that claim a decision on shale-gas drilling in New York has been delayed for political reasons.
The record of the two meetings in question can be found here. (Shah stepped down as health commissioner earlier this month.)
Gannett’s Albany Bureau first filed a Freedom of Information Law request for Shah’s schedules back in July. In March, the Department of Health provided 2,000 pages of documents detailing Shah’s daily meetings.
But those documents were heavily redacted, with the subject and location of the meetings — and, at times, who attended — routinely blacked out. In April, the agency rejected Gannett’s appeal to have the redaction information restored, arguing that revealing the location of the past meetings could jeopardize Shah’s safety.
Here are the schedules as provided by the Department of Health:
(AP file photo)