Gov. Andrew Cuomo said an internal health review of hydraulic fracturing, otherwise known as fracking, begun by his administration could actually speed an approval process along.
On Monday, Cuomo said he supports his environmental commissioner’s decision not to launch an independent health study and to instead have the administration’s health department review new health assessment data compiled by the Department of Environmental Conservation. Cuomo says he agrees with Commissioner Joe Martens that the government agencies are the most “objective” reviewers.
“Government is the independent, objective reviewer,” said Cuomo, adding “it makes no sense” to go to a private firm that may have an opinion or an economic interest.
And Cuomo thinks the internal health review could result in hastening an approval of fracking, because it will cut down on the time spent fighting lawsuits that are expected to be filed once the final environmental impact report is released.
“You can actually be expediting the process,” said Cuomo, who said “months or years” of protracted litigation could be “avoided.”
Environmental groups disagree with the decision to conduct an internal health review, saying it could be biased. One group, Environmental Advocates, has filed a freedom of information law request asking to see the details of the health study, which have not been publicly disclosed.
Cuomo said the “facts and science” of the gas drilling process are still being studied, and he could not say how long the health review will take. The governor would not rule out fracking in New York being delayed beyond the end of this year.
“It’s done when it’s done,” Cuomo said.
But Cuomo said his health department will provide an estimate soon for a time table on how long the health review might take.