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CCE IN THE NEWS

Source: Politics on the Hudson

Reaction mixed to DECís hydrofracking announcement

BY JON CAMPBELL

Posted: September 25, 2012
Originally Published: September 21, 2012

A late news drop from the state Department of Environmental Conservation solicited a wide array of reaction late last night and this morning, with environmental groups split and pro-drillers showing cautious optimism.

Just before 5 p.m. Thursday, DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens issued a lengthy statement signaling that he has asked the Department of Health to tap outside experts to help review its analysis of hydrofracking’s health impacts. He also wrote that he “rejects” calls from environmental and medical groups calling for a health analysis by an outside, non-governmental group.

The announcement means another likely delay for the state’s ultimate decision on high-volume hydrofracking; the DEC has been studying the controversial technique for over four years, with permits on hold until that study is completed.

Here’s a selection of reaction that poured into our inbox over the past 24 hours:

  • Susan Lerner, executive director, Common Cause/NY: “Commissioner Martens is certainly right that government must be the final arbiter of controversial issues like fracking. Government does not – and shouldn’t be expected to – have sufficient expertise in all of the issues implicated by the decision of whether or not to permit fracking. The public health impact of fracking is a major concern to New Yorkers. Use of outside public health experts would increase the public’s confidence that any ultimate decision was made objectively. Use of such experts shouldn’t be summarily rejected as part of a pre-litigation strategy. What might seem to be most desireable for a court of law may not be acceptable in the court of public opinion.”
  • Brad Gill, executive director, Independent Oil & Gas Association of NY: “IOGA supports the commissioner’s position that regulating mineral resource development is the role of the Department of Environmental Conservation. Environmental regulations, properly enforced and adhered to, protect human health, as well as all natural resources.”
  • Citizens Campaign for the Environment: “This is an important step in the right direction for government to assure the public that health and safety interests will not be trumped by corporate interests. CCE looks forward to analyzing DOH’s review and we would expect the DOH to enlist a truly independent and qualified panel of experts and solicit input from potentially affected communities. Finally, CCE calls on the DEC to maintain public trust and permit public comment when the updated document is released since this will be the first time a health component will be included.”
  • Dan Fitzimmons, president, Joint Landowners Coalition: “The outright rejection by the DEC of a delay tactic sought by special interests harboring extreme views opposing any natural gas development is good news,”said Dan Fitzsimmons, president of the JLCNY, representing over 77,000 New York landowners. “This position renews our faith that the long stated intentions of the Governor to lead, based on the facts will prevail even while biased groups recycle myths and distortions about natural gas development.”
  • Sandra Steingraber, co-founder, New Yorkers Against Fracking: “The gas-industry-entangled DEC and its silent brother, the DOH do not inspire confidence. Fracking is an accident-prone, carcinogen-dependent industry with a terrible track record for safety. With the health of millions of New Yorkers at risk, Governor Cuomo must demand a rigorous, comprehensive Health Impact Assessment by an independent team of public health experts. That’s what New York’s universities and medical institutions are there to provide.”