The New York Department of Health has completed its public health review of high-volume hydraulic fracturing and Acting DOH Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker recommended Wednesday that high-volume hydraulic fracturing should not move forward in New York State.
Dr. Zucker announced his findings and recommendations at a Cabinet Meeting in Albany.
"I have considered all of the data and find significant questions and risks to public health which as of yet are unanswered," said Dr. Zucker. "I think it would be reckless to proceed in New York until more authoritative research is done. I asked myself, 'would I let my family live in a community with fracking?' The answer is no. I therefore cannot recommend anyone else's family to live in such a community either."
In 2012, Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens asked the DOH Commissioner to conduct a review of the draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement for High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing. Dr. Zucker's report fulfills that request.
As a result of Dr. Zucker's report, Commissioner Martens stated at the Cabinet Meeting today that he will issue a legally binding findings statement that will prohibit HVHF in New York State at this time.
"For the past six years, DEC has examined the significant environmental impacts that could result from high-volume hydraulic fracturing," DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said. "DEC's own review identified dozens of potential significant adverse impacts of HVHF. Further, with the exclusion of sensitive natural, cultural and historic resources and the increasing number of towns that have enacted bans and moratoria, the risks substantially outweigh any potential economic benefits of HVHF. Considering the research, public comments, relevant studies, Dr. Zucker's report and the enormous record DEC has amassed on this issue, I have directed my staff to complete the final SGEIS. Once that is complete, I will prohibit high-volume hydraulic fracturing in New York State at this time."
DEC will incorporate the findings of the public health review into the Final SGEIS, which will be released with a response to public comments early next year. A minimum of 10 days later, Commissioner Martens will issue the findings statement prohibiting HVHF. This action will conclude the State Environmental Quality Review Act process for HVHF.
DOH's review found significant uncertainties about: the adverse health outcomes that may be associated with HVHF; the likelihood of occurrence of adverse health outcomes; and the adequacy of mitigation measures to protect public health.
DOH's report concludes that it will be years until science and research provide sufficient information to determine the level of risk HVHF poses to public health and whether those risks can be adequately mitigated.
Given the red flags raised by current studies, absent conclusive studies that disprove health concerns, the report states the activity should not proceed in New York State.
In conducting its public health review, DOH reviewed and evaluated scientific literature, sought input from outside public health experts, engaged in field visits and discussions with health and environmental authorities in nearly all states where HVHF activity is taking place, and communicated with local, state, federal, international, academic, environmental and public health stakeholders.
A full copy of the DOH’s review is available online.
API New York State Petroleum Council Executive Director Karen Moreau said Gov. Cuomo acted irresponsibly by issuing a statewide ban on hydraulic fracturing, putting the state's economy on a reckless path and ignoring the needs of New York families, economic opportunity, job creation, revenue to the government, and America's need for energy security.
"Today's action by Gov. Cuomo shows that New York families, teachers, roads and good-paying jobs have lost out to political gamesmanship. This is the wrong direction for New York.
"Robust regulations exist at the federal and state levels nationwide for natural gas development and environmental protection. A politically motivated and equally misinformed ban on a proven technology used for over 60 years – throughout the country to great success – is short-sighted and reckless, particularly when New York depends on safely produced natural gas just over the border in Pennsylvania.
"New York is sitting on a major opportunity to help fuel America's future. Just next door in Pennsylvania, more than $630 million has been distributed to communities since 2012 – including more than $224 million in just 2014. These once economically challenged areas are now thriving. The Commonwealth has also benefited from over $2.1 billion in state and local taxes generated by the shale energy industry. Revenue from natural gas production supports road and bridge improvements, water and sewer projects, local housing initiatives, environmental programs and rehabilitation of greenways. We are resolved to continue to fight for these benefits in New York.
"We look forward to continuing to work with the landowners and our labor allies, who are focused on creating jobs. This is a missed opportunity to share in the American energy renaissance, and for New York's future prosperity."
In response to the recommendation, Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper said, “Gov. Cuomo has made the right decision for the right reasons—he required technical analysis and comprehensive inquiry from his Administration’s qualified experts;he gave his agencies the arm’s length they needed from the push and pull of politics; and he allowed science to inform the policy decisions that we needed. We applaud and thank Gov. Cuomo and New York for applying caution and clear-headed reason in reaching this historic decision.
“This will surely lead the way for other states, especially Pennsylvania, where a new Governor will be taking the helm and making policy decisions regarding the ravaging impacts of fracking and in the Delaware River Watershed, where a tentative drilling moratorium is in place.”
In an email to supporters Thursday, Clean Water Action said, “Gov.(-elect) Wolf cheers fracking, our resistance to Wolf must be strong” (on the fracking ban issue). They also criticized Gov.-elect Wolf for not naming a “single statewide environmental organization” to his Environmental Transition Team.
The email went on to say, “Gov.-Elect Tom Wolf's Press Secretary stated yesterday in response to Cuomo's move, “Gov.-elect Wolf opposes a ban, and he will work hard to make sure the process is safe.” “But if he wants to make Fracking "safe" why is there not a single statewide environmental organization represented on his Environmental Transition Team?”
“Gov. Wolf's desire to make Fracking "Safe" is not as strong as he would say.
“Here are a few initial steps we are taking:
“1. On January 20th when Gov. Wolf will be Inaugurated, Clean Water Action will be helping lead the Pennsylvanians for Fracking Rally at the State Capitol. We must take the battle against unlimited Fracking to Gov. Wolf. Clean Water Action will be putting organizing time and resources into this effort.
“2. Clean Water Action will push Gov. Wolf to draw a BIG LINE around our State Forests and Public Lands. Wolf must reinstate the Moratorium on leasing in our State Lands.
“3. Clean Water Action will force Gov. Wolf to actually enforce DEP regulations. Under Corbett, Pennsylvania's enforcement of environmental regulations concerning Fracking has been a joke. Clean Water Action is demanding accountability from the PA Department of Environmental Protection.
“Gov. Wolf promises to be a vast improvement over Governor Tom Corbett. While that is probably true, that is not enough! From someone who promises as much as Tom Wolf, we will expect so much more.”
NewsClips:New York Move To Ban Fracking Heartens Critics