New York State to ban fracking because of red flags to public health. Health Commissioner Howard Zucker: “Would I let my child play in a school field nearby? After looking at the plethora of reports, my answer would be no.”

Communities nationwide react to NY fracking ban Press Release by Earth Works, December 17, 2014

Quotes from fracking impacted citizens in NY and around the country. After health review, NY Department of Health commissioner declares he wouldn’t want his children to live near fracking; DEC Commissioner says risks outweigh any benefit. …

“Would I let my child play in a school field near [fracking]?,” asked Health Commissioner Zucker. He continued, “The answer is no.”

In response, Governor Cuomo said, “If you wouldn’t want your children to live near fracking, no one’s children should have to.”

The DEC will include those findings in its own long-awaited impacts document, which will be released in early 2015 with a clear recommendation to prohibit fracking in the state.

Reactions from fracking-impacted communities around the country:

New York statement
“New Yorkers are so fortunate to have decision makers who have listened to the public and the emerging science, and are not willing to sacrifice communities, public health, and local and sustainable economies,” says Jill Wiener of Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy and Advisory Council Member for Stop the Frack Attack. “This courageous decision in the face of industry pressure strengthens our resolve to help all our neighbors nationwide who are living with the nightmare of drilling–and who equally deserve protection of their air, water, and health.”

California statements
‘Congratulations to all of the hardworking communities and activists that worked to protect New York from the many negative impacts of fracking. Let’s hope that California’s Governor Brown sees the sanity in Governor Cuomo’s decision to ban fracking in New York.’ — Paul Ferrazzi, executive director from Citizens Coalition for Safe Community.

“We are thrilled and excited for the win in New York. This is a bold action on fracking, a practice we know well in here California, particularly in the Central Valley. It is damaging and putting residents at risk here. We look to Governor Brown to protect our schools, farms, families, and communities the same way the New York Governor Cuomo has protected the people of NY. Its important to know that 354,000 CA public school students are exposed to the impacts of fracking everyday and this is something NY students will never have to know.” — Madeline Stano, staff attorney for Center on Race Poverty and the Environment

Colorado statement:
‘The only path forward regarding fracking industry operations should be to exercise the precautionary principle. It is very clear the fracking industry and the oil and gas regulatory state preemption framework does not conduct itself in a manner consistent with public health safety and welfare.’ — Shane Davis, Executive Director, and Advisory Council Member for Stop the Frack Attack

Pennsylvania statements:
“Given what the New York State Department of Health (NYDOH) has concluded, that ‘the risks are too great’ to allow fracking, we should ask for a point-by-point response to the NYDOH health impact analysis from Pennsylvania’s Gov-elect Tom Wolf. He needs to talk immediately to the NY DOH people. If the public health risks are too great in NY, then why are they not too great in PA?” — Stephen Cleghorn, owner of Paradise Gardens and Farm and former Advisory Council Member for Stop the Frack Attack

“New York’s decision will prevent even more people and communities from being harmed,” says Rebecca Roter, Pennsylvania resident and founder of Breathe Easy Susquehanna County. “Elected officials everywhere should also pay attention to the science, exercise caution, and hit the pause button on fracking–and make this a victory for the common good as well as New Yorkers.”

Texas statements:
‘It is really great that after seeing destruction around the country from oil and gas fracking that the people of NY took matters into their own hands to protect themselves from an industry that couldn’t care less about their health and welfare.’ – Calvin Tillman, former mayor of DISH Texas, coordinator of ShaleTest, and member of Stop the Frack Attack advisory council

“We congratulate New York for reaching the same conclusion through study that Denton residents had to live through to find out,” said Cathy McMullen of the Denton Drilling Awareness Group. DAG was the main group that successfully pushed in this past election the first fracking ban within a Texas city via ballot initiative. She continued, “We hope that Texas regulators will learn from New York’s example and not block Denton’s ban, or any Texas city that wants to protect its citizens from fracking’s impacts in any way it finds necessary.”

Washington, DC/National statement:
“In effectively banning fracking, New York’s state regulators confirmed what those living with it for years already know, hydraulic fracturing isn’t safe,” said Earthworks’ Executive Director Jennifer Krill. She continued, “It’s time for President Obama, the EPA, and states across the country to take all possible measures to protect the tens of millions of people living near oil and gas development outside of the State of New York. No one should be made to sacrifice their health for fossil fuel development. The time for clean, renewable energy is now. ”

New York state to ban fracking over ‘red flags’ to public health, Decision comes after two-year study spearheaded by health commissioner into the effects of fracking on the state’s air and water raises ‘serious questions’ by Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent, December 17, 2014, The Guardian
The state of New York said it would ban the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing on Wednesday because of “red flags” about its risks to public health. The ban puts one of the last great areas of untapped potential in the Marcellus Shale off-limits to the oil and gas industry.

The decision was reached after a two-year study into the effects of fracking on the state’s air and water, and announced at a cabinet meeting in Albany.

“The takeaway that I get from the data is that there are serious questions about public health,” the governor, Andrew Cuomo, said.

New York’s two-year review raised multiple concerns about the effects of fracking on public health. “I cannot support high-volume hydraulic fracturing in the great state of New York,” Howard Zucker, the health commissioner, said. “There are many red flags.”

Zucker admitted there was still a lack of hard data about the effects of fracking on public health, but he said: “Would I let my child play in a school field nearby? After looking at the plethora of reports, my answer would be no.”

Asked why other states had allowed fracking given those health risks, Zucker said: “The fact is that many of those states didn’t bring their health teams to the table.”

“I’ve never had anybody say to me ‘I believe fracking is great’. What I get is: ‘I have no alternative to fracking’,” Cuomo said on Wednesday. “But if you say I have no alternative, there is no economic opportunity.”

He went on: “The point is: they need jobs, and they need income, and what’s the alternative to fracking?” [Emphasis added]

Cuomo to Ban Fracking in New York State, Citing Health Risks
by Jesse McKinkley, December 17, 2014, The New York Times

ALBANY — The Cuomo administration announced Wednesday that it would ban hydraulic fracturing in New York State, ending years of uncertainty by concluding that the controversial method of extracting gas from deep underground could contaminate the state’s air and water and pose inestimable public-health risks.

“I cannot support high volume hydraulic fracturing in the great state of New York,” said Howard Zucker, the acting commissioner of health.

That conclusion was delivered publicly during a year-end cabinet meeting called by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in Albany. It came amid increased calls by environmentalists to ban fracking, which uses water and chemicals to release natural gas [and oil] trapped in deeply buried shale deposits. The state has had a de facto ban on the procedure for more than five years, predating Mr. Cuomo’s first term. The decision also came as oil and gas prices continued to fall, in part because of surging American oil production, as fracking boosted output. …

As months and years passed, the governor repeatedly suggested that the Health Department’s report was near completion, but its findings did not surface until Wednesday.

Dozens of towns and cities across New York have passed moratoriums and bans on fracking, and in June, the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, ruled that towns could use zoning ordinances to ban fracking. … [Emphasis added]

New York bans fracking after health report by Daniel Wiessner in Albany and Scott Disavino and Edward McAllister in New York; Editing by James Dalgleish and Steve Orlofsky, December 17, 2014, Reuters
New York state will ban hydraulic fracturing after a long-awaited report concluded that the oil and gas extraction method poses health risks, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration said on Wednesday. New York Environmental Commissioner Joseph Martens said at a cabinet meeting he will issue an order early next year banning fracking, which has been under a moratorium since 2008. Once that happens, New York will join Vermont as the only states to completely prohibit fracking.

The state’s health commissioner, Howard Zucker, said there is not enough scientific information to conclude that fracking is safe. “The potential risks are too great, in fact not even fully known, and relying on the limited data presently available would be negligent on my part,” Zucker said.

The oil and gas industry immediately slammed Cuomo for the decision.

“We hope that this determined leadership Governor Cuomo has displayed will give courage to elected leaders throughout the country and world,” said Deborah Goldberg, an attorney with the group Earthjustice.

Cuomo, answering questions from journalists, said the decision on whether to allow this kind of drilling in New York was ultimately up to Martens. He said it was “probably the most emotionally charged issue I have ever experienced,” more than gay marriage, gun control or the death penalty. [Emphasis added]

New York Will Ban Fracking by Emily Atkin, December 17, 2014, Climate Progress
The state of New York is officially moving toward a fracking ban. After presenting the findings of an exhaustive five-year study on the potential environmental, economic, and public health effects of fracking, state Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner Joseph Marten said he would issue a “legally binding findings statement” seeking prohibition of the controversial process.

The study presented Wednesday had few good things to say. It noted that peer-reviewed studies on how fracking affects public health were few and far between; that the process had the potential to pollute New York’s many reservoirs and aquifers; and that the economic benefit to the state would be “clearly lower than intially forecast.”

“Would I live in a community with [fracking] based on the information we have now? … After looking at the plethora of reports, my answer is no,” acting state health commissioner Howard Zucker said. “I cannot support high volume hydraulic fracturing in the great State of New York.” …

“Let’s bring the emotion down and let’s ask the qualified experts what their opinion is,” Cuomo said on Wednesday before the results of the report were announced. “I will be bound by what the experts say because I am not in a position to second-guess them with my expertise.”

Describing the results of the report, Zucker and Marten painted a picture of a process with great risk and little benefit. “The potenial adverse impacts are wide-ranging and widepread,” Martens said, noting increased truck traffic and accidents, the potential for air and water pollution, and the inability of small communities to deal with the “overwhelming” costs of compliance with safety measures.

Marten also cited legal prohibitions either proposed or already in place in New York, including the “legal game changer” of a recent court decision that allows towns to ban fracking themselves. With that decision and proposed fracking bans near aquifers and in state parks, Marten said that 7.5 million acres, or 63 percent of Marcellus shale, would already be off limits to fracking. Activists say that 170 towns and cities in New York have already passed fracking bans or moratoria.

Health Commissioner Zucker said his department spent a cumulative 4,500 hours working on the public health review, which he said compiled all the peer-reviewed research on the potential health effects of fracking. What he found, he said, was a decisive lack of long-term studies to make an informed decision.

2014 12 17 New York Dept Health, Review on risks and harms caused by high volume hydraulic fracturing

2014 12 17 New York Dept Health, Review harms caused by high volume hydraulic fracturing, pg 176 NY State indoor Radon

[What did Canada get:

2014 10 14: Why was a 2012 Health Canada Report, admitting significant health hazards and risks to groundwater and air from hydraulic fracturing, kept from the public?

[Refer also to:

2014 12 16: Quebec’s Premier Declares Province-wide Shale Gas Ban after Environmental Review Board (BAPE) says Fracking Not Worth The Risk, “Too many negative consequences to the environment and society…risks to air and water quality…noise and light pollution”

2014 12 12: State of Science on Harms by Fracking to Public Health and Water: Health Professionals, Scientists Release Analysis of 400 Peer-Reviewed Studies on Fracking along with Major Scientific Compendium Update

Health professionals and scientists released two new, independent summations of the state of the science on the risks and harms of shale gas development and fracking. The two documents – which have both been sent to Governor Cuomo and Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Zucker – address speculation and concerns raised by Governor Cuomo this fall about the status of scientific inquiry into the impacts of shale gas development, decisively showing that independent, peer-reviewed studies overwhelmingly identify environmental and public health hazards and risks of shale gas development.

The first is a new working paper analysis from the energy science organization, PSE Healthy Energy. Covering a wide range of outcomes—air pollution, water contamination, and public health—the PSE Healthy Energy analysis is a statistical evaluation of the approximately 400 peer-reviewed studies to date on the impacts of fracking.

Among the key findings:

  • 96% of all studies published on health impacts indicate potential risks or adverse health outcomes.
  • 87% of original research studies published on health outcomes indicate potential risks or adverse health outcomes.
  • 95% of all original research studies on air quality indicate elevated concentrations of air pollutants.
  • 72% of original research studies on water quality indicate potential, positive association, or actual incidence of water contamination.
  • There is an ongoing explosion in the number of peer-reviewed publications on the impacts of shale or tight gas developments: approximately 73% of all available scientific peer-reviewed papers have been published in the past 24 months, with a current average of one paper published each day.

2014 12 11: Alberta Energy and Environment Regulators Play Catch 22: Fracking and ill health, Albertans take fracking head on

Bob Willard, Senior advisor at the Alberta Energy Regulator, agreed to speak about current regulations.

David Kattenburg: Why aren’t these things being monitored for in the gases that are coming out from flaring and incineration stacks?

Bob: The long list that you’ve identified would be the responsibility for monitoring of not only the Alberta Energy Regulator, but the Environment department themselves, and I would direct you once again to ESRD for them to identify what their plans are relative to updating those guidelines.

David: I have actually, I’ve tried valiantly I’d say to try to get them to explain to me why they have these guidelines that say all industry MUST conform to these guidelines, and then I said well why does directive 60 of the Alberta Energy Regulator only establish monitoring requirements for sulfur dioxide and he said: “speak to the Alberta Energy Regulator.” 

Bob: Um, it is important, and this is something the Energy Regulator does lead, is capturing the metrics of the volumes of material, so we do have good metrics as to the volumetrics.

David: But essentially nothing about the composition of those gases, other than sulfur dioxide.

Bob: A totally accurate composition, I would certainly volunteer that no, we do not have a totally accurate comprehensive information on the flare composition rather, we have it for the uh volumes, but not necessarily for the compositions. ]

2012 ERCB (now AER) lawyer letter to Ernst (in response to repeat requests  by Ernst for chemical disclosure of fracturing fluids injected by EnCana into Rosebud drinking water aquifers and in approximately 200 gas wells fractured above the Base of Groundwater Protection around Rosebud.)

“However, the ERCB does not currently require licensees to provide detailed disclosure of the chemical composition of fracturing fluids.”

2008 New York’s Gas Rush Poses Environmental Threat

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