Gas Drilling Is Called Safe in New York

Gas Drilling Is Called Safe in New York by Danny Hakim, January 3, 2013, The New York Times 
ALBANY — The state’s Health Department found in an analysis it prepared early last year that the much-debated drilling technology known as hydrofracking could be conducted safely in New York, according to a copy obtained by The New York Times from an expert who did not believe it should be kept secret. The analysis and other health assessments have been closely guarded by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and his administration as the governor weighs whether to approve fracking. Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, has long delayed making a decision, unnerved in part by strident opposition on his party’s left. A plan to allow a limited amount of fracking in the state’s Southern Tier along the Pennsylvania border is still seen as the most likely outcome, should the drilling process receive final approval. The eight-page analysis is a summary of previous research by the state and others, and concludes that fracking can be done safely. It delves into the potential impact of fracking on water resources, on naturally occurring radiological material found in the ground, on air emissions and on “potential socioeconomic and quality-of-life impacts.” But it remains difficult to discern how much original research the state has done on potential health impacts, and environmentalists worry that the administration’s lack of transparency is hiding a lack of rigor in its assessment of public health risks. … “The document itself is not a health impact study at all,” said Katherine Nadeau, the water and natural resources program director at Environmental Advocates of New York, who has reviewed it. “As drafted it is merely a defense or justification as to why the administration didn’t do a rigorous study.” Last September, Ms. Nadeau’s group submitted a state Freedom of Information Law request to the Cuomo administration seeking any health impact studies that had been conducted, but has yet to receive any such documents — a common delay tactic by the administration on various issues. “This is Governor Cuomo saying to the people of New York, once again, trust me on fracking, when on the health impact side of it, the public has been kept completely in the dark,” Ms. Nadeau said. [Emphasis added]

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