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Outside Experts Shut Out of Fracking Review in New York

By Kristen Meriwether
Epoch Times Staff
Created: September 20, 2012 Last Updated: September 23, 2012
Related articles: United States » New York City
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A Cabot Oil and Gas natural gas drill stands at a hydraulic fracturing site on January 18, 2012 in South Montrose, Pennsylvania. Hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, stimulates gas production by injecting wells with high volumes of chemical-laced water in order to free-up pockets of natural gas below. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

A Cabot Oil and Gas natural gas drill stands at a hydraulic fracturing site on January 18, 2012 in South Montrose, Pennsylvania. Hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, stimulates gas production by injecting wells with high volumes of chemical-laced water in order to free-up pockets of natural gas below. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

NEW YORK—The public health impacts from hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking,” will be reviewed only by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) experts, and not by outside experts as opponents of fracking had wanted.

On Thursday, DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens rejected the demand made by advocacy groups: “I believe deferring to an outside group or entity would be an inappropriate delegation of a governmental responsibility. Government is the public’s independent reviewer—that is the essence of the current process,” Martens said in a statement. “To suggest private interests or academic experts bring more independence to the process than government is exactly wrong.”

Martens said he has asked NYS Health Commissioner Nirav Shah to assess the DEC health impact analysis and to identify the most qualified experts. “While the review will be informed by outside perspectives on the science of hydrofracking, the decision-making will remain a governmental responsibility,” Martens said.

Sen. Tony Avella, an outspoken proponent of fracking, said in a statement, “While this decision is not the independent study that I and other environmental advocates have been calling for, it is a positive step in the right direction. I am pleased that DEC and Department of Health (DOH) will be working together to assess hydrofracking’s health impacts, which has the potential to affect millions of New Yorkers.”


Litigation is expected regardless of the study’s conclusions, but Martens said he believes in the process. “The review will also ensure the strongest possible legal position for the Department given the near certainty of litigation, whether the Department permits hydrofracking or not.”

On June 28, the Environmental Working Group released a report saying that gas industry representatives were given exclusive access to drilling regulations six weeks prior to their being made public, and have called the process unfair and lacking transparency.

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