Industry groups angered by NY fracking delay, With deadline next week, groups object to length of process, health review experts

Industry groups angered by NY fracking delay, With deadline next week, groups object to length of process, health review experts by Jon Campbell, November 19, 2012, pressconnects
The natural gas industry expressed frustration Monday with the state’s ongoing review of hydraulic fracturing, with one trade group saying its trust in state government has been “exhausted.” The Independent Oil & Gas Association of New York sent a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, urging him to have his Department of Environmental Conservation release its long-awaited final report on large-scale hydraulic fracturing and to move forward with issuing permits. The letter came in advance of a Nov. 29 regulatory deadline, which if missed would require the DEC to re-open its proposed regulations to public comment.

Last week, the state Department of Health confirmed the names of three outside experts who will assist in reviewing the DEC’s efforts to limit or prevent potential health impacts…. One of the experts — Lynn Goldman, dean of George Washington University’s school of public health — said last week she was informed the independent review should be wrapped up by “mid-February at the latest.” The DEC’s report — known as the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement — was launched in July 2008 and must be finalized before permits for high-volume hydrofracking are issued. That report won’t be finished until the health-specific review is completed, according to the DEC.

The members of the gas trade group were “hopeful” the state would meet the November deadline, but are now “well past the tipping point.” … Katherine Nadeau, water and natural resources program director for Environmental Advocates of New York, said Cuomo has to ensure the “many significant questions about fracking’s impacts are answered before permitting is considered.” “IOGA’s letter says it all — the gas companies believe the state should care more about their bottom line than the public health and well being of the millions of New Yorkers who will be affected if fracking is permitted,” Nadeau said.

Meanwhile, a second industry-funded group mailed the Department of Health on Monday, criticizing its choice of outside experts to assist in the review. Energy in Depth — an effort funded by gas-industry trade groups — took issue with previous fracking-related comments made by Goldman and Richard Jackson, of the University of California, Los Angeles, and disputed the findings of a report co-authored by John Adgate, of the Colorado School of Public Health. “To be clear, we believe the three experts selected can provide valuable input in this review,” Energy in Depth Executive Director Lee Fuller wrote. “But in order to meet the demands of New York residents — who deserve and strongly support a fair, open and independent process — we encourage the state of New York to consider additional experts to allow for a true diversity of perspectives.” [Emphasis added]

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