Dear Commissioners Shah and Martens:
Our groups write today to call on the Administration to commit to conducting a robust, comprehensive and – above all – open process as you proceed in your consideration of the potential health impacts associated with proposed high-volume hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in New York State.
We write in follow up to the letters sent by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Riverkeeper, Inc. and the Waterkeeper Alliance on October 5 and November 21, 2012 (copies of which are attached) making this same request.
We remain deeply concerned that the health review is proceeding under a veil of secrecy and without any opportunity for input by the potentially affected public, state-based health professionals or other key stakeholders. Among other things, the “health impact assessment” purportedly prepared by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) through the on-going Revised Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement process, and under current review by the Department of Health (DOH) with the aid of three outside experts, has never been publicly released.
To be valid and meaningful, it is absolutely critical that the health review process provide a genuine opportunity for input by local, county and New York State medical and public health professionals, as well as the community members in potentially affected areas of the state. We therefore call on your agencies to announce a public review process that includes, at a minimum:
- Public release of the scope, substance, and any supporting data or information used to complete the “health impact analysis” conducted by DEC and announced by Commissioner Martens on September 20, 2012.
- Public release of the scope, substance and any supporting data or information used in the DOH review of the analysis, as well as the scope and substance of the outside experts’ evaluations of that review.
- No less than a sixty-day public comment period on the scope and substance of the Department of Environmental Conservation’s “health impact analysis,” the scope and substance of the Department of Health’s review, and the scope and substance of the outside experts' review.
- One or more public hearings conducted by DOH throughout the potentially affected parts of the state to receive testimony from interested parties, before DOH and the experts finalize their review.
In addition, we are concerned that the recent decision to release revised draft regulations prior to completion of either the health or environmental review processes will put undue pressure on your agencies to make a final decision on fracking in New York that is not appropriately informed by those processes and that is subject to an arbitrary, unfounded deadline.
Consequently, we also ask that your agencies reiterate your commitment not to make any final decisions related to fracking, including but not limited to finalization of the draft regulations, until this public health review process has been completed and due consideration has been given to the information elicited during that process.
We thank you again for your decision to conduct an evaluation of potential health impacts from proposed new fracking in New York, and we are confident that you will ensure that evaluation is both open and legitimate.
Neil F. Woodworth
Adirondack Mountain Club
Citizens Campaign for the Environment
Common Cause NY
Maya van Rossum
Delaware Riverkeeper Network
Earthworks Oil and Gas Accountability Project
Environment New York
Environmental Advocates of New York
Kate Sinding and Eric A. Goldstein
Natural Resources Defense Council
Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
Senator Mark Grisanti, Chair, Senate Environmental Conservation Committee
Senator Kemp Hannon, Chair, Senate Health Committee
Assembly Member Robert Sweeney, Chair, Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee
Assembly Member Richard Gottfried, Chair, Assembly Health Committee