NY to look at PA frack studies

New York to await Pennsylvania health studies before allowing fracking, as recommended by state's top doctor


Make text smaller Make text larger



Photos



  • This photo from the Web site of the nonprofit U.S. Water Alliance group shows a hydrofracking station in operation.




— In what activists are calling "an incredible victory," New York will await the results of two Pennsylvania health studies before permitting hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a controversial deep-drilling method used to extract natural gas from shale.

The recommendation to delay permits came from the state's health commissioner and was agreed to by the state's commissioner of environmental conservation.

"The decision to permit HVHF (High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing) involves complex questions about the impact of the process on public health," wrote Dr. Nirav Shah, the health commissioner, in a Feb. 12 letter to Joe Martens, head of the Department of Environmental Conservation.

Dr. Shah said his department was focused primarily on how fracking will affect drinking water and air quality, and fracking's "community impacts."

"The time to ensure the impacts on public health are properly considered is before a state permits drilling," Dr. Shah wrote. "Other states began serious health reviews only after proceeding with widespread HVHF. In my view, that is not the right approach for New York to take if we are serious that public health is the paramount question in making the HVHF decision. And as Health Commissioner, protecting the public health is my primary job."

Recent studies examine health effects

Dr. Shah goes on to say that in recent weeks, work has been "initiated or published by the scientific community to analyze these health impacts and which may help in addressing these areas." The two Pennsylvania studies — the Geisinger Health Study and the University of Pennsylvania study — are among the first comprehensive studies of fracking's health effects at either the state or federal level, he said.

Geisinger, which cares for many patients in areas of Pennsylvania where shale gas is being developed, is undertaking studies to analyze health records for asthma and other respiratory diseases, accidents and injuries, as well as birth outcomes.

The University of Pennsylvania study was only recently launched. It is being led by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania in collaboration with scientists from Columbia, Johns Hopkins, and the University of North Carolina.

Dr. Shah also cites the federal Environmental Protection Agency's progress report of the potential impact of fracking on drinking water resources. He said his department is still reviewing the 278-page document released a few weeks ago.

Commissioner Joe Martens agreed that New York needs more time. He said he and will join "his team in Pennsylvania and Washington in the coming days for first-hand briefings on these studies and their progress, which will assist in informing the New York review."

"I will not issue a final SGEIS (Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement) until that review is complete and I have received Dr. Shah’s recommendations," he wrote on Feb. 12.

Catskill Mountainkeeper applauds the decision.

"As Mountainkeeper has long recommended, Dr. Shah is wisely taking the time to come to a careful decision about what needs to happen to protect New York from the harmful effects of fracking," stated Kathleen Nolan, MD, High Peaks Regional Director of Catskill Mountainkeeper. "We hope that his future plans include a call for a rigorous, comprehensive, open and participatory Health Impact Assessment that will define and quantify the full range of health hazards involved in the production and distribution of natural gas."




Make text smaller Make text larger

Comments

Pool Rules



MUST READ NEWS

Zack Foley scores 1,000 points in Goshen Gladiators basketball
By Ginny Privitar
— Goshen basketball player and senior Zack Foley has scored over 1,000 points so far — and the season...

Read more »
Image

Free throw basketball coming to Chester Elementary
— There is no other sound in sports quite like it: The "swish" when the leather ball hits "NBC" (nothing but...
Read more »
Image

Teams from Goshen win two top spots, move on to next round in National Auto Tech Competition
— Teams from Orange-Ulster BOCES in Goshen took the two top spots on Jan. 9 at the National Automotive Technology Competition...
Read more »
Image

New York Legislature approves early voting
New York state may soon join most other states in allowing its citizens to cast a ballot before Election Day in a bid to improve its low voter turnout rates.
The state Senate...

Read more »
Image

VIDEOS



Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Community Newspapers



MOST COMMENTED



Find more about Weather in Chester, NY