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Saved by Ian Balcom (Dr B.)
on November 16, 2012 at 7:29:07 am







  • The Wall Street Journal
  • Updated November 15, 2012, 6:08 p.m. ET

NY agency names panel to review fracking study

Associated Press

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York's health department has named experts from George Washington University, the University of California Los Angeles and the Colorado School of Public Health to review the state's environmental study on shale gas development using hydraulic fracturing, a state official said Thursday.

The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the announcement had not been formally made.

Health and environmental groups have pressed for a comprehensive and independent health impact analysis before hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is allowed. Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens rejected that request in September, saying state Health Commissioner Nirav Shah would do the review with help from outside experts.

The DEC faces a regulatory deadline of Nov. 29 to complete new regulations for fracking. Martens said the agency's proposals won't be finalized until Shah's health review is finished. If the deadline isn't met, the regulations may have to be reopened to public comment.

New York has had a moratorium on shale gas drilling since 2008, when regulators began an environmental review of fracking, which releases gas from rock by injecting a well with millions of gallons of chemically treated water.

Regulators contend that overall, water and air pollution problems related to gas drilling using hydraulic fracturing are rare, but environmental groups and some scientists say there hasn't been enough research on those issues.

The experts chosen for the health review were John Adgate, chairman of the Environmental and Occupational Health Department at the Colorado School of Public Health; Lynn Goldman, dean of George Washington University's School of Public Health and Health Services; and Richard Jackson, chairman of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the University of California Los Angeles' Fielding School of Public Health.

Environmental groups criticized the state agencies for not making public the DEC health review that the outside experts will be evaluating.

"We continue to call on the state to perform a comprehensive public Health Impact Assessment," said Katherine Nadeau of Environmental Advocates. "And to ensure the credibility of this study, strongly encourage the administration and the governor's appointees to undertake a more open and transparent process that fully involves the public."

A letter signed by 91 health professionals and scientists was sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday saying there's no indication the health department's review will meet the standards of a full health impact assessment.

"New York's community of medical professionals reiterate our call for an independent, comprehensive health impact assessment," Dr. Andrew Coates of Albany Medical College said in a statement. "Nothing less than a transparent investigation with full public participation is acceptable."


Associated Press Writer Michael Virtanen contributed to this report.

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An Unfractured Look at Hydraulic Fracturing,



Listen to the free podcast, "An Unfractured Look at Hydraulic Fracturing," which provides a fantastic summary of what's happening right now across the various federal agencies responsible for the regulation of hydraulic fracturing. Hear three top speakers in the field, Rob Kirsch, Jeanne Briskin, and Richard McNeer, as they provide a background on the EPA's multiyear study on the impact of fracturing on drinking water resources, as well as discuss the uptick in petitions and lawsuits seeking to further encourage fracturing regulations. This is part of ALI CLE's new, free podcast series, Off the Record, which is available on iTunes



Gas Drilling: The Story So Far

ProPublica, June 26, 2010, 8:42 a.m.

The country's push to find clean domestic energy has zeroed in on natural gas, but cases of water contamination [1] have raised serious questions about the primary drilling method being used.

Vast deposits of natural gas, large enough to supply the country for decades, have brought a drilling boom stretching across 31 states. The drilling technique being used, called hydraulic fracturing [2], shoots water, sand and toxic chemicals into the ground to break up rock and release the gas. The Environmental Protection Agency has declared the process to be safe [1], but water contamination has been reported in more than a thousand places where drilling is happening. Gas companies, exempt from federal laws protecting water supplies, may conceal the identities of their chemicals as trade secrets, making it difficult to determine [3] the cause of contamination.

The EPA is now conducting a deeper study [4] of the drilling, New York state has blocked drilling [5] in New York City2019s watershed, and lawmakers are pushing for closer oversight of the industry. The industry -- in the form of millions of dollars spent on lobbying, a slew of court cases, and a robust public relations campaign -- is pushing back [6].


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