NEW YORK—New York State Health Commissioner Nirav Shah, tapped with reviewing the state’s environmental study on shale gas development with regard to hydraulic fracturing, now has experts to aid him during his review process.
The experts are John Adgate, chairman of the Environmental and Occupational Health Department at the Colorado School of Public Health; Lynn Goldman, dean of George Washington University’s School of Public Health and Health Services; and Richard Jackson, chairman of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, according to The Associated Press.
The selection comes just two weeks before the Nov. 29 deadline to finalize the regulations. If the deadline is not met, a 90-day extension can be filled, however at least one public comment period would have to be opened and an updated proposal would have to be submitted.
Goldman said they expect their work to be wrapped up by mid-February at the latest, according to Gannett’s Albany Bureau.
The selection was welcome news to Katherine Nadeau, Water and Natural Resources program director at Environmental Advocates of New York, however she still would like more transparency. “While it is welcome news that three highly regarded professionals have agreed to review the DEC’s study on the public health impacts of fracking, the administration’s intentionally obtuse approach to this entire process is unacceptable,” Nadeau said in a statement.
Environmental Advocates of New York submitted Freedom of Information Act requests regarding how the study Commissioner Shah and the newly chosen experts will be reviewing was conducted, however they were told those documents would not be provided until Jan. 25, 2013.
“As a result, no one knows who completed the DEC’s study, what factors the DOH has considered in its initial review, and whether these three experts will truly have the independence and autonomy they need and deserve to do the job right,” Nadeau said.
Groups who support fracking have raised concerns over two of the selections, with claims of bias. John Adgate co-authored a report in listing the human health risks associated with fracking and Lynn Goldman wrote a piece in The Huffington Post pointing out the health costs associated with the new abundant energy.
“While we have confidence in the ability of the DEC and Health Department to guide us through this review, we also have an expectation that panel members will be impartial toward the issue of hydraulic fracturing, and we therefore are concerned that one member of the committee is the author of a Colorado study, which has been widely criticized,” read a statement from the landowners group, according to Politics on the Hudson.
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