NY Delays Fracking Decision Again

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A February deadline on New York’s process to allow hydrofracking will be missed, with Governor Cuomo’s Health Commissioner now saying he needs more time to complete an ongoing health study.

Dr. Nirav Shah says he wants to further study potential health impacts from hydrofracking, and will review some new comprehensive studies on health and fracking that have been released over the past few weeks.

In a letter to Environmental Commissioner Joe Martens (see below), Dr. Shah recommends that any fracking permits should be delayed until he finishes, which he says will take at least a few weeks time. Shah says in the letter “The time to ensure the impacts on public health are properly considered is before a state permits drilling."

Katherine Nadaeu with Environmental Advocates says Dr. Shah is right to ask for a delay.

“This is good news,” she said.

Shah will review three recently published comprehensive studies on the health impact of hydrofracking, one by the US EPA, one by a Pennsylvania health care system, and one conducted by the University of Pennsylvania.

The health commissioner says he’s going to Washington and Pennsylvania in the coming days to get first hand briefings on the studies. 

Supporters and opponents of hydrofracking had been looking to February 13 as a key date to determine whether Governor Cuomo was indeed going ahead with fracking. Cuomo’s environmental agency would have needed to make public the generic environmental impact statement by then if it were going to complete a related rules making process by a February 27 deadline.

Department of Environmental conservation Commissioner Joe Martens says he won’t act until the health study is completed.

“We wanted to go the extra mile and have the commissioner of the Department of Health look at everything we’ve done and now look at outside studies,” said Martens. “New Yorkers should be assured that it’s getting the highest level of scrutiny.”

Martens also confirms that he would not be releasing the environmental impact statement on February 13. That means the February 27 extension of the rules making process, which expires then, will also be missed.

But Martens says he still has the power to issue permits even if the rule making part of the process is not completed. He says he can start issuing permits 10 days after the environmental impact statement is released. The environmental commissioner downplays the rule making process, saying it merely codifies whatever is decided in the environmental impact statement, and says it may not even be necessary to issue the permits.

“You don’t have to do the rules,” Martens said. “It’s good to have rules, they are enforceable, but we think we can do by permit conditions all the things that would be adopted in a rule making (process).”

Nadaeu, with Environmental Advocates, says if the environmental agency does not follow through with the rule making, it could wind up in court.

“There are top attorneys out there that would challenge his assertion on that topic,” Nadaeu said.

A group of landowners in the Southern Tier who live above the Marcellus Shale and would like to see fracking commence are not pleased by the news. Scott Kurkoski is the attorney for the Joint Landowners Coalition.

“We’re extremely disappointed that the state missed yet another deadline,” Kurkoski said. “That is really hard for our members to take since they’ve been waiting for so long.”

Kurkoski says his group is encouraged, though, by the news that the state could go ahead and issue fracking permits without undergoing another lengthy rule making process. And he says it seems the Cuomo Administration is throwing pro fracking interests a bone.

“That seems to be the intention here,” Kurkoski said.

The Joint Landowners Coalition had threatened to file a lawsuit if there were any more delays in allowing fracking, now Kurkoski says the group will continue to “evaluate” the situation.  

Environmental Commissioner Martens says he’s not doing anything, though, until he sees the results of the health review from the Govenror’s Health Commissioner, Dr. Shah.

“Be patient,” he says. “We’re going to get through a very, very thorough process before we get to a conclusion.”

The latest delay means the fracking review process will continue for at least a few more weeks.



Julianne Welby


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Comments [3]

mary from india

1. The Defendant states that Mrs.Nidhi Shah has gone to the extent of intruding into my personal relationship with Dr.Rajesh Mathew. Taking advantage of her proximity to him, she has used the same slander campaign with him to successfully derail our relationship, which until November 2005 was smooth and was heading for marriage. She appears to have pretended to befriend him and gain his confidence. Thus, she has prised out details of our conversations, emails and meetings and mis-represented these details in my office without my knowledge or consent. For the purpose of defamation and slander of my reputation, she has made use of the Plaintiffs official channels of communication at the cost of American Express Bank Ltd., New York which is the head office of American Express Bank Ltd., globally. The Plaintiffs should consider claiming damages from her for misusing company resources, causing loss of man-hours, breach of the company code of conduct and for obstructing justice, and not from me at all.

Mrs.Nidhi Shah has used her higher office authority to gain the support of the other Accused in first harassing me with their lewd and malicious propaganda and later covering up the matter by further intimidating me with veiled warnings. She, first made the unsolicited disclosure of my relationship with Dr.Rajesh Mathew. While these details were still being discussed in the Treasury department by the officers and directors she further moved ahead to make a disclosure of a supposed sexual relationship between me and Dr.Rajesh Mathew claiming to know and providing concocted graphic details of such act as though she had been an eye witness to the same. From November 10, 2005, this Defendant has been subjected to the eve teasing remarks, indecent discussions and remarks on the status of my virginity, humiliating discussions and remarks on the status of my supposedly illicit relationship as declared by Mrs. Nidhi Shah and speculation on my motives for carrying on the allegedly illicit relationship merely for monetary gain.

The entire time she has shrewdly remained sheltered by the Plaintiffs and the Accused. To date the Plaintiffs, its officers and employees staunchly refuse to disclose her whereabouts though they are very well aware of the details and are still in close contact with her.

May. 19 2013 03:56 AM
David Willinger from Manhattan

It is very sad that President Obama supports fracking and gas in general. I've never heard him say a word about the health dangers; he's very careful not to, but they're real and present regardless. Mr. Armesto asks: "Is it working for them?" He only has to see GASLAND to find out the answer. Stuck with unsaleable property totally contaminated in water and air. Flames shooting out of the tap. I guess he has his head in the tar sands.

Feb. 14 2013 02:15 AM
John Armesto from Buffalo, NY

Even the President realizes the potential of safe fracking for the country. Please do not let Arab money get in the way through a back door of hysteria funding. How is Pennsylvania doing? Is it working for them? We don't need another generation leaving NY for better jobs.

Feb. 13 2013 10:26 AM

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