ALBANY, NY – Senator David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Westchester) today introduced legislation in the State Senate that would suspend hydrofracking in New York State for a period of 24 months to accommodate three ongoing and major public health studies. The proposal would require the Commissioner of Health to take these outside, independent studies into consideration. In turn, all scientific data compiled would have to be reviewed before the DEC finalizes and proposes any recommendations relating to the permitting of hydrofracking in the state.
Standing beside Senator Diane Savino (D-Staten Island) of the Independent Democratic Conference, Senator Carlucci stressed that a decision of this magnitude should not be made in a vacuum without all of the facts presented and available to policy makers.
The group of legislators was also joined by 10 statewide environmental organizations, led by the Natural Resources Defense Council, which urged the Legislature to adopt and pass this legislation without delay.
Senator David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Westchester) said: “A quick buck is not worth the long-term debt that our children will have to live with if we get this decision wrong. Rushing to judgment without all of the facts is a recipe for a disaster, particularly involving a hydrofracking process that lacks transparency and accountability, and has appeared to pose significant harmful health effects towards populations surrounding the Marcellus Shale. I cannot in good conscience support any measure that does not first fully evaluate all related scientific data, and that is precisely what we are advocating for here today. Let’s get the facts at our disposal before we launch into unchartered territory.”
Horizontal hydraulic fracturing (HVHF), commonly referred to as hydrofracking, involves extracting natural gas from underground shale formation. Typically the process includes the introduction of millions of gallons of fracturing fluid – a mixture of water, proppants and chemicals – under high pressure into a previously drilled wellbore.
Majority Coalition Leader and IDC Leader Jeff Klein (D-Bronx), said: “Before making a decision, we need to ensure that state agencies have the best and most up to date information available. As I’ve said before, I have serious concerns about the process. These studies will provide the Department of Health with a much clearer sense of whether or not hydrofracking can ever be conducted safely.”
The proposed legislation comes at a critical time as the commissioner of Health conducts his own public health review of what is known as the revised draft supplemental generic draft environmental impact statement, or SGEIS.
On February 12, 2013, the Commissioner of Health had notified the DEC Commissioner that the public health review was ongoing and that he was evaluating the three comprehensive studies of HVHF-related health impacts in conjunction with outside experts. These reports are currently being undertaken at the state and federal level, including:
· A U.S. EPA Study entitled, “Study of the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water Resources,” which assesses the potential impacts of hydrofracking on drinking water. A final draft report is expected to be released for public comment and peer review in 2014.
· A Geisinger Health System study reviewing detailed health histories of hundreds of thousands of patients who live near wells and other facilities producing natural gas from the Marcellus shale formation. Results are expected to be released within the next year.
· A university-based research study of HVHF-related health impacts recently announced by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania in collaboration with scientists from Columbia, Johns Hopkins and the University of North Carolina.